The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju has highlighted the need to strengthen the first responders by building their capacity to ensure swift and efficient response during a disaster. Delivering the valedictory address at the 13th Formation Day function of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here today, with School Safety as its theme, Shri Rijiju said Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) education should be integrated into the school curriculum to give a fillip to the culture of disaster preparedness. Shri Rijiju said that under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Government has taken several steps towards building capacities in Disaster Management. Referring to the 10 point-agenda for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) given by our Prime Minister during the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) last year, Shri Rijiju said the Government is committed to the vision of a safer, stronger and resilient India. Underlining the fact that India is a disaster prone country and facing disasters is inevitable, Shri Rijiju said positive results in DRR can only be achieved with the participation of the State Governments, district and local administration and community-based organizations as the first responders in a disaster eventuality.
He said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has conducted training for earthquake preparedness at schools across the country and hundreds of school children have been sensitized. We will have to mainstream Disaster Management into our day-to-day activities, he added. Dr. P.K. Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, said education is the backbone of any kind of development and it starts from the school. He added that ensuring the safety of our schools and schoolchildren is absolutely necessary. Citing the examples of Gujarat and Latur earthquake, Dr. Mishra said after a disaster strikes, the reopening of schools helps boost morale of the victims and the affected people and rebuild lives. The Formation Day function of the NDMA was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh earlier today. Appreciating NDMA for its efforts to mainstream DRR in the country, Shri Singh reiterated India's commitment to stand with other countries on humanitarian issues, including disaster prevention, mitigation and response. Speaking during the Inaugural Session, the Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba said that legal and institutional systems in place for Disaster Management should be further strengthened. Speaking on the theme of ‘School safety’, he said that lot of school infrastructure is lost in disasters and education services also get affected in post-disaster phase. Children become more vulnerable, so special care and attention needs to be given to them, he added. Setting the agenda for the day, NDMA made a presentation on the National Disaster Management Guidelines on School Safety Policy.
The Guidelines, released by NDMA in February last year, aim to strengthen the risk resilience of schools across the country. Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Shri Anil Swarup spoke about the role of Education Departments in the implementation of these Guidelines. He said that implementation of the laws and regulations on ground is very important. He also said that the Department will extend all support in the efforts of NDMA for school safety. Various States shared their experiences in terms of Best Practices and lessons learnt in their initiatives towards school safety. They covered various aspects of school safety such as safety audits, capacity building and training, simulation exercises, structural safety and incorporation of Disaster Management in school curriculum. Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) gave a detailed presentation on retrofitting of unsafe school buildings and explained how it is important for ensuring safety of schoolchildren. Representatives of schools spoke about how they ensure Disaster Preparedness and the key challenges that they face while implementing their DM Plans. They also highlighted the need for collaboration between school authorities and government agencies for school safety. In his welcome address, Shri R. K. Jain, Member, NDMA said that Disaster Management requires all stakeholders to come together to ensure implementation and monitoring of all initiatives. National Disaster Management Guidelines on Boat Safety and Cultural Heritage Sites & Precincts, and a study report on Chennai Floods of 2015 were also released during the day.