Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said over three lakh people have lost their lives in SCO countries during different natural calamities in two decades beginning 1996 while two lakh of them died due to earthquakes.
Inaugurating the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) joint exercise on Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue (SCOJtEx)-2019 here, Shah said that it will be very useful for improving collective preparedness and building a common understanding of internationally recognised procedures to coordinate post-earthquake responses.
"During 1996-2015, more than three lakh people have lost their lives due to natural calamities. Earthquakes have taken more than two lakh lives, which account for two-thirds of disaster related mortality in SCO countries," he said.
Shah said the joint exercise with SCO member states will be helpful in developing personal understanding amongst counterpart teams when they will work together to tackle any disaster situation.
Establishing the centrality of SCO nations in tackling disasters, the home minister said none of the global targets on reducing disaster losses- whether they are enshrined in the Sendai Framework or Sustainable Development Goals -can be met by 2030, unless achieved by the SCO countries.
"International cooperation in this area is, therefore very important," he said.
Shah said India attaches special importance to the SCO as an excellent platform for synergising the efforts of all member states in the field of multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region.
He noted that the SCO has emerged as a major international organisation as it represents 40 per cent of global population, 20 per cent of global GDP and 22 per cent of the global geographical area.
Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave 'HEALTH' mantra for SCO members for cooperation in six areas which are healthcare, economic, alternate energy, literature and culture, terrorism-free society and humanitarian cooperation.
The homeminister said India is making concerted efforts for strengthening the response capabilities and taking focused steps.
"Our national disaster management plan was launched in 2016. All our 28 states, nine Union Territories and 90 per cent of our districts have completed their disaster management plan," he said.
Shah said that now efforts are on to revise this national plan which has taken into consideration not only the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction but the sustainable development goals and agreement on climate change also.
Highlighting India's effort to reduce preventable deaths and other losses from disaster, the home minister cited the example of effective handling of Phaillin, Hudhud and Fani cyclones in the recent past and said that this was the direct outcome of a series of policy initiatives and enhancement of early warning capabilities, advance preparation, training and capacity development.
"During cyclone Fani, loss of lives was reduced to 64 persons compared to 10,000 lives in the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone. In the other words, in a little over a decade, India has been able to reduce the loss of lives to less than 1 per cent in the comparisons to that of past," he said.
Talking about India's focus on disaster resilient infrastructure to minimize deaths, Shah said India is championing a coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure, which will be multi-hazard oriented and will also help in minimising the losses to property and infrastructure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched this Coalition during the UN Climate Summit in New York.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)