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Need to upgrade technological infrastructure to tackle natural disasters: Hardeep Singh Puri

He also said that the response of the integrated command and control centres set up in smart cities would be qualitatively superior during emergency situations.

In order to deal with the problem of urban flooding, it is essential to have technological infrastructure in place that can anticipate natural disasters and help cities deal with emergency situations at a press of a button, says housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

He was briefing reporters on the National Institute of Urban Affair (NIUA) workshop on 'Urban Flood Resilience' where experts suggested a number of ways to tackle the issue.

The recommendations broadly fall into various categories - early warning before disaster strikes, identifying which agency should be the first to respond during an emergency, the list of bodies that can provide emergency services and dealing with the eventuality of communication breakdown during such emergency situations, he said.

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He also said that the response of the integrated command and control centres set up in smart cities would be qualitatively superior during emergency situations.

Right now only 11 are operational, 28 are in advanced stages of work being completed and by December 2019, as many as 50 are expected to be operational. But these are only for 100 cities whereas the total number of cities is 4000.

“All our cities must have the same capacity to respond as these smart cities. We are trying to create this for all our cities. Citizens should be able to access these services at a press of a button,” he said.

He said, the idea is to chalk out ways of prevention and mitigation of floods in Indian towns and cities and set into motion the national guidelines on management of urban flooding.

While it is not easy to make the guidelines enforceable, flood mitigation and management could be made a reform condition in various flagship missions of the ministry, he said.

“We have to deal with disaster management in the context of robust urbanisation. There are measures that cities can undertake, such as changing the nature of buildings and materials used, ensuring water conservation or planting more trees, and overall design an eco-system that helps prevent and mitigates the impact of floods,” he said.

He also called for mapping of emergency services and disaster management response centres, strengthening of communication services, solid waste management, rejuvenating water bodies and involving the civil society and NGOs, generating awareness among people to making the systems urban flooding resilient.

There has been an increasing trend of urban flood disasters in the country over the  years - Hyderabad in 2000, Ahmedabad in 2001, Delhi in 2002 and 2003, Chennai in 2004, Mumbai in 2005, Surat in 2006, Kolkata in 2007, Jamshedpur in 2008, Delhi in 2009 and Guwahati and Delhi in 2010. The most recent devastating ones were Srinagar in 2014, Chennai in 2015, Kerala and Nagaland in 2018.
First Published on Oct 12, 2018 08:53 am
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