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Mitigating Disasters

10 Jun 2020

India’s geography is as diverse, vivid and vibrant as its demography. The Himalayas in the north to deserts, plateaus and a 7000+ kilometres coastline gives India unique geo-climatic conditions, which also makes the country vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Floods are the most common natural disaster in India. Earthquakes, cyclones, drought, and landslides are the other natural disasters commonly occurring in India.

Traditionally, a reactive and relief-centric approach to disasters has been taken. With better planning and concentrated efforts, a proactive and collaborative approach has been brought about for building holistic capabilities for disaster management.

Key stakeholders from Government departments, agencies, the corporate sector, and the community have played a critical role in devising a balanced approach in disaster management with an increased focus on pre-disaster aspects such as disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness. 

As per a report, the average global economic loss due to natural disasters annually was around 232 billion dollars in 2019. 

Integrating disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness can minimise the loss of lives and assets. Therefore, as early as in 2005 in India, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was envisaged to make India disaster resilient.

Through a diverse set of activities related to awareness generation, disaster preparedness, and mitigation planning, concentrated efforts have been underway since then. The Government of India-United Nations Development Programme Disaster Risk Management Programme also encourages the promotion of partnerships with the private sector for devising efficient disaster risk management plans.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), with a direct membership over nine thousand industrial and corporate houses has been leading many national disaster management initiatives. CII was the first industry organisation to form a Disaster Management Committee in May 2001 to advise its member industries in planning and initiating disaster risk reduction steps to protect them from natural and man-made disasters. Currently, CII’s Disaster Management Division works towards involving Indian industry in schemes under the National Disaster Management Plan. 

CII played a key role in disaster relief management after the devastating Kerala floods, and has been instrumental in disaster relief and rehabilitation initiatives covering the Odisha super-cyclone, the Bhuj earthquake, the Uttarakhand floods and landslides, and others. The CII Foundation (CIIF), established in 2011, which carries out developmental and charitable work to promote inclusive development in society, undertakes community support and rehabilitation work but also facilitates skill development and livelihood projects, establishing health and education facilities, and generating environmental awareness in the eco-sensitive zones. 

CII has also partnered with the Government and development organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the effective execution of disaster risk reduction activities. The Public-Private-People (PPP) Partnership for Natural Disaster Risk Management’ is the result of various initiatives carried out by CII.

Ensuring sustainable development is at the core of disaster management. To maintain ecological balance, every stakeholder has to work in tandem. Through the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre and the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, CII is promoting sustainable development and green initiatives across the country. The road towards a cleaner and safer environment goes through the path of maintaining environmental harmony. 

The recent outbreak of Coronavirus, which is a global pandemic, has once again propelled CII into action to mitigate suffering and losses.  While on the one hand, CII has been working very closely with Government and industry on policy advocacy and recommending ways to restart the economy in a safe, and calibrated manner, on the other hand, along with CII Foundation, Young Indian (Yi) and affliated associations SIAM and ACMA, it is providing relief and rehabilitation across 28 states in India. As on 02 June 2020, over 78.85 lakh people have directly benefitted from the measures, and 65.20 lakh hygiene material such as masks and gloves have been distributed. Community kitchens, distribution of food and ration kits as well as counselling are part of the ongoing initiatives to help those affected by and suffering during to the Coronavirus. 

 We might not be able avoid all disasters, but we can surely stop it from becoming a catastrophe.