Mangaluru: A national symposium on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 was held at School of Social Work Roshni Nilaya on July 15. The symposium was jointly organized by the Center for Health and Development(R) Mangaluru.
The programme began with an invocation. Dr Edmond Fernandes, a medico-social activist and CEO of Center for Health and Development, welcomed the gathering and mentioned that disasters should be opportunity to create more innovative solutions to address rapidly depleting natural reserves, issues of environment health and climate change and create new jobs in this sector and train minds to focus on creating sustainable solutions for tomorrow’s generations.
The programme was inaugurated by Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim by lighting the traditional lamp along with other dignitaries on the dais. Dr Ashwini, Project head of Center for Health and Development and Assistant Professor, Dept of Anatomy Yenepoya University, explained the importance of the programme.
Addressing the gathering, chief guest DC A B Ibrahim, said that our systems are such that building licenses are given without sufficient precautions. “There should be fire entry/exit locations in buildings, but they are not provided, making it inaccessible to fire tenders when a fire breaks out. The information which is required is not updated at all. We do ‘adjustment’ everywhere. Yesterday, there was an accident in Maripala in which three people were killed. It was not an accident at all. We created it! We give permission for a building without an entry road at all; if anything goes wrong, then a rescue vehicle would have difficulty to enter the site.”
“In India, disasters seems to happen in everything. There is weakness in our infrastructure, system and approach. No importance is given to disaster mitigation. In a developing country like ours, ‘roti, kapda, makhan’ will be the most important objectives. Alleviation of poverty, i.e., to provide 2 square meals or shelter are the primary objectives of most of our state governments. Other issues don’t get prioritization at all; they say, ‘No, this is not social security; disaster mitigation is not important. First, you must provide bread to the people’. They are right, but what happens in the process?” he questioned.
He further said that if a single objective of elimination of poverty and providing shelter and economic upgradation is only set, many disasters can take place. “China is a shining example of this. Very often you get some or the other news about disasters in the Chinese industry because they don’t take care of the other issues involved – security, safety and longevity. They want instant success and in this process, lots of disasters do take place.”
He also stressed on holding officers accountable and responsible for man-made disasters which can happen in their areas. He highlighted the need to prepare citizens to work towards disaster mitigation. Recalling Bhopal Gas tragedy and other disasters, the DC said that often disasters are taken lightly and this attitude should change.
Superintendent of Police, Dr Sharanappa emphasized the role of police and law and order situations during any disaster. He also urged young minds to be more responsible and anticipate situations in advance and work towards its preparedness. “When a man-made disaster happens, the society, local government and people from all over the world get together and put their efforts in helping the victims. When this is possible, why can’t we get together to prevent disasters from happening in the first place? In day to day administration and social life, man creates imperfect regulatory structures which can lead to disasters. Yesterday (July 14) there was an incident in Maripala where 3 people died during construction work; all were labour class workers from outside the state. If the permit givers and contractor had taken proper precautionary measures, then this incident could have been prevented. After a disaster occurs, lots of resources are utilized. A study states that only 4% of our funds are reserved for disaster mitigation; if we increase the importance in this area, we can save more lives and reduce the damages caused.”
Dr Abhay Nirgude, Professor and Head, Dept of Community Medicine, Yenepoya University spoke on how Community Medicine Experts play a very crucial and delicate role to tackle and address disasters.
The speakers for the day were Dr Saurabh Dalal (Consultant- Disaster Healthcare section, National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi), Dr Shivaprasad Rai (Ex Commandant, Home Guards, Gov of Karnataka), Dr Ashok (Assistant Commissioner, Mangaluru) and Dr Ramachandra Kamath (Professor, Dept of Public Health, Manipal University). Dr Saurabh Dalal in his keynote address said that disaster healthcare response is taking baby steps in the country but a giant leap is yet to be taken for providing mass medical and psycho social care, and Corporates, Ministries and Inter-country organizations should invest into Disaster Risk Reduction at all levels.
Dr Philomena D’Souza (Director, Roshni Nilaya Mangaluru), Dr Sophia Fernandes (Principal, School of Social Work), Dr Rameela Shekhar (Dean, PG Dept, School of Social Work) and other faculty members, NGO representatives, students of public health and social work were present.