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Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
05-November-2016 15:14 IST
Remarks by MoS (Home) Shri Kiren Rijiju on the occasion of World Tsunami Awareness Day

Following is the text of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju’s remarks during the commemoration of first Word Tsunami Awareness Day here today:

Following is the text of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju’s remarks during the commemoration of first Word Tsunami Awareness Day here today:

 

Tsunamis, though infrequent, are significant natural hazards that can cause great destruction and loss of life within minutes on shores near and far. Tsunamis are disasters that threaten coasts and beaches all over the world. Scientists agree that about ten major tsunamis occur every century. Basing on historical data, about 76% of the world's major tsunamis have occurred in the Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas, 10% in the Mediterranean Sea, 11% in the Atlantic Ocean, and 3% in the Indian Ocean. In less active geological oceans like the Atlantic, Indian or Mediterranean oceans tsunamis can cause significant damage and death toll. In recent history, Japan is the most frequent sufferer of tsunami in Asian region.

 

While Japan may have the longest recorded history and high frequency of tsunami occurrence, the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, caused due to the great Sumatra earthquake of magnitude 9.1, was the most devastating tsunami ever, causing unprecedented loss of life and damage to property in the Indian Ocean rim countries. While the loss of property was enormous the most devastating fact was that it resulted in around 230,000 fatalities. In India, it claimed 10,749 lives according to official estimates.

 

We were caught unaware and unguarded and the tragedy was one of the worst.     Notwithstanding this, the Government of India rose to the challenge and the tsunami of 2004 proved to be a watershed in the history of disaster management in India. Not only we overcame the crisis and ensured relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction alongwith livelihood generation to the affected communities within a short span of time, but also we put in place the legislative provisions, institutional mechanisms and technological interventions for dealing with different types of disasters, including tsunami.

 

The Disaster Management Act enacted in 2005 has provided a legislative framework in National, State and District levels for effective disaster management including every facet of preparedness, response, capacity building and mitigation. India has become one of the first countries to frame the National Disaster Management Plan 2016 in line with goals of Sendai Framework. The State and District level Disaster Management Plans have been notified by the various State Governments. These plans provide clear cut Standard Operating Procedures to respond to various natural disaster situations including Tsunami.

On the front of technological interventions and building our capabilities for disaster preparedness and enhancing disaster risk reduction, we are investing into Science & Technology especially in weather forecasting, early warning systems, knowledge sharing networks, Metrological services etc.  The Government of India has set up Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services (INCOIS) for dealing with tsunami. INCOIS has prepared multi-hazard vulnerability maps to identity the coastal areas under threat. The National Tsunami Early Warning System in INCOIS was set up in 2005 to provide early warnings for any possible tsunami. The warning centre is capable of issuing Tsunami bulletins in less than 10 minutes after any major earthquake in the Indian Ocean and is providing tsunami early warnings and advisory services to 28 other countries on the Indian Ocean rim.

 

Centre is also organizing national & international workshops, training sessions and seminars to create awareness about tsunamis to general public, school children and disaster management community. The recent, tsunami mock drill (IOWave16) that was conducted in September 7-8, 2016 by INCOIS is a great example of the implementation of the plan to build tsunami resilient community. The main objective was to test the efficiency of communication links, exercising the standard operating procedures of the emergency services and the evaluation of the readiness to handle the emergency situations. I am happy to note that large number of people from coastal areas participated in this exercise.

 

To raise awareness about dangers of tsunami among people, November 5 has been designated UN as World Tsunami Awareness Day to coincide with the annual anniversary of the 1854 Inamura-no-hi or “Fire of Inamura” event. On November 5 of that year a Japanese villager through his quick action saved countless lives when he set fire to sheaves of rice, thus warning people of the imminent danger of a tsunami. Role of the World Tsunami Awareness Day is critical, because knowledge and awareness to tsunami risk will lead effective evacuation behavior which can save lives. This is directly related to the target 1 of the Sendai Framework, “reducing global disaster mortality”.

 

On this important day of the 1st World Tsunami Awareness Day, I as the Champion for DRR in Asia wish to call all countries in Asia to promote public tsunami awareness and education for the people of coastal population to enhance community resilience through a facilitated education and outreach program.

 

We cannot prevent tsunami, but we can control the damages that can be inflicted by Tsunami. Therefore, I would like to urge all the Countries to commemorate this 1st World Tsunami Awareness day by taking a pledge to sensitize Local Self Governments, communities and vulnerable people about the risk of Tsunami.”

 

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KSD/NK/PK/KM