The Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba has called on the States and Union Territories to step up their preparedness by advance planning and deployment of human, physical and financial resources ahead of the monsoon season. In his inaugural address at the annual conference of Relief Commissioners/Secretaries to review Preparedness for South West Monsoon-2019, he said that the Centre would provide all possible assistance under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) besides mobilization of Central Forces. Gauba said the Centre had released more than Rs. 7,000 crores under SDRF and an additional Rs. 10,000 crore under NDRF last year to the States for Disaster Relief.
He called upon the States to undertake capacity building of urban local bodies, State Disaster Response Force, Fire Service and Civil Defence since they are the first responders during a calamity. He urged the States to increase coverage of farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana crop insurance scheme to provide immediate relief to farmers in the event of natural disasters.
During the recent Cyclone Fani, Gauba said loss of human lives was minimal due to accurate and early weather forecasting by India Meteorological Department (IMD) and timely mobilization of resources besides better coordination among Centre, State Governments and other relevant agencies. Commending the excellent work done by various agencies in mitigating the hardships caused by Cyclone Fani, he asked the States to further improve their capabilities to be able to effectively handle the disaster situations.
Citing a UN Report, the Union Home Secretary said disasters had caused economic losses of US $3 trillion globally during the last two decades. India alone suffered losses to the tune of $80 billion during 1997-2017. Stating that our country is prone to various kinds of disasters, Shri Gauba called for building Disaster Resilient Infrastructure as a long term measure to minimize the economic losses.
The Union Home Secretary said the Government has sanctioned additional Battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and new Battalions are being set up in J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi NCR.