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Policies on disaster management need to reach people:Rijiju

NEW DELHI: Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju on Monday declared although political leaders made policy in the case of disaster management “at our level”, but these needed to ‘percolate’ to the ground level.
Rijiju was inaugurating a two-day international conference on disaster management, “When the Mountains Move and the Waters Rise” with a focus on health and housing organized by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia.
Rijiju said that it was necessary to be better prepared to face the risks of disaster and that mere dependence on government was not enough. He added that this could happen by bringing in local communities into policy formation and implementation because family members and neighbours were the “first responders to any calamity”. He also emphasized the need to develop infrastructure that was “conducive to the surroundings” and that people need to understand that traditional structures and not concrete ones can withstand the pressure of earthquakes.
The Chief Minister of Mizoram, Lal Thanhawla said that state governments were handicapped by weak regulatory mechanisms and inadequate resources to enforce building code of conduct.
He said that 70% of RCC constructions in North east cities did not conform to regulations and that a proposed common building code for the North east remains largely on paper”. He spoke of the need to develop audio visual aids and improve a network of health workers with access to media.
Others who spoke at the session included Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, JMI who suggested the need to develop “a corridor of study in the Himalaya” “to enable field trips by students and faculty to understand the geography and geology of the region. Prof. Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, underlined that the vulnerability of the region and urban structures saying “earthquakes don’t kill, buildings do”.
The conference is being supported by the North Eastern Council, GoI, and the National Institute of Disaster Management, Government of India whose Executive Director, Prof. Santosh Kumar suggested further collaborations with Jamia to develop a focussed study on Disaster Management.
The international conference heard in detail about the need to deal with consequences of post-disaster trauma, and also about the multiple effects of the Nepal earthquake. It is being attended by scholars, practitioners, scientists, technical specialists, media, NGOs and students.

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