India begins preparatory meeting for joint SCO exercise in 2019

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India on Thursday began a preparatory meet for the first phase of main Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) joint 2019 exercise with all eight member countries to chalk out plan and modalities, said a Home Ministry statement.

The representatives of the SCO member countries India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China and Uzbekistan attended the two-day meet for the main exercise on ‘Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue’ scheduled between February 21-24, 2019 in New Delhi. 

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been entrusted with the responsibility to organise the exercise, said the statement. 

Delivering the keynote address, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member R. K. Jain, said that in the 9th meeting of the Heads of Departments of disaster prevention of SCO countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states, led by Union  Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, held at Kyrgyzstan in August, 2017, India volunteered to organize the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization Joint Exercise on Urban Earthquake Search & Rescue- 2019 for the region.

Jain, further said that the preparatory meeting would be helpful in chalking out the plan, discuss requirements, details and modalities of the main exercise. “The exercise will be based on INSARAG guideline.”

Highlighting the increasing trends of disasters, especially hydro-metrological disasters in the region, R.K. Jain said: “As all the countries are interconnected with each other. Hence, action in one part of the world affects the other. The challenges in disaster management are common in the world. If we are able to prevent and reduce the impact of disasters, it will be a huge global benefit.”

“India has always been at the forefront of the Disaster Risk Resilience (DRR) efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx), Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) and Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Corporation (BIMSTEC),” Jain added.

Additional Secretary (DM), Ministry of Home Affairs, Rajni Sekhri Sibal, highlighted on sensitization about the dimensions of disaster and responsibility of SCO.

Joint Secretary (SCO), Ministry of External Affairs, Madhumita Hazarika Bhagat underlined the uniformities of disasters in the region and emphasised the need of effective coordination among the member nations for unified response.

Director General, NDRF, Sanjay Kumar said the types of events, modalities, venues, protocol and requirements would be worked for smooth conduct of main exercise during the course of this two-days Preparatory Meeting.

Kumar further added that the simulation exercise will provide an opportunity to practice and strengthen the national and international response, coordination protocols and methodologies, in a major earthquake scenario requiring international assistance.

Representatives from all eight-member countries addressed the audience and shared their introductory remark.