Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said that disasters, whether natural or manmade, cause extreme distress and disruption because of wide-spread human, material or environmental losses. Health Minister said it while speaking on the occasion of first session of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction meet held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi today.

Referring to the topography of Himachal Pradesh, Kaul Singh said that as Himachal Pradesh falls in the seismic zone V, which was considered to be more vulnerable to the earthquakes and other Natural disasters. He said that one National Disaster Management Force (NDMF) may permanently be stationed in Himachal Pradesh so that it could reach out to the people without delay during disasters.

Besides earthquakes, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and other states with similar geo-physical conditions are more prone to natural hazards; therefore, the Government of India (GoI) should consider Himachal Pradesh and other similar States in Special Category for greater allocation of funds for disaster relief.

He urged to Union Government to enhance the National Disaster Relief Fund so that adequate compensation could be released to the sufferers during their hour of distress.

Stressing the need for strengthening the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the minister said that it was necessary to have NDRF stationed at appropriate places to quickly respond to disasters. As disasters occur without any pre-warning, the NDRF has to be expanded substantially equipped with all essential paraphernalia to mitigate the disasters. This becomes even more necessary as transportation in Himachal was slow and more time consuming and the onus to provide relief to people affected is on the government said he.

Raising concern over the mild intensity earthquakes occurring in the Northern Region of the Country and particularly in the Himalayan belt during the past few months, the minister said that urgent preparedness measures were required to lessen the impact of earthquakes and other natural disasters. He also stressed for adequate training of all Governments personnel, NGO’s, and above all, the people as well, so that they could play a ‘role of saviour’ during the occurrence of disasters.

He said that such platforms were handy for, organising, operating and Managing risk reduction related to disasters and wished that they may be held more occasionally both at the Central and State level in which besides Officials, representatives of the People, members of Local self Governments, Yuvak Mandals, Mahila Mandals, NGO’s, Representatives from the Media, academic institutions etc should be invited rather should be made mandatory for them to attend such seminars.