Saarc experts in India for first disaster management exercise

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Delegates from all Saarc nations — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, besides India — will take part in the first joint exercise on strengthening the disaster response mechanism in the region that will start here on November 23.

India will host the first joint exercise — South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx-2015) — that aims at strengthening regional response towards two things — earthquakes and chemical emergencies.

Delegates from each of the eight nations under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) will take part.

The five-day exercise will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Delhi.

“The main focus of the exercise will be to test coordination efforts, create synergy and synchronize efforts among the response forces of member countries to institutionalize regional cooperation on disaster response.

“The aim will be to ensure coordinated and integrated efforts of the response forces as one unit at the time of disasters,” said R.K. Jain, member secretary of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said during the 18th Saarc Summit in Kathmandu on November 26, 2014 that India’s expertise in disaster management would always be available to South Asia.

NDRF director general O.P. Singh said that on the first day of the exercise, “there will be table-top sessions in which different kinds of disaster situations will be simulated and both individual and joint response measures will be discussed”.

“On the second day, response for Collapsed Structure Search and Rescue (CSSR) will be carried out in Ghaziabad to demonstrate the CSSR capabilities of the participating nations, followed by field exercise on chemical emergency response at a factory in Greater Noida on the third day,” he said.

On the fourth day, de-briefing and After Action Review (AAR) will be conducted.

The joint exercise will be followed by a day-long Saarc regional workshop on sharing best practices on “Disaster Risk Reduction” on November 27.

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