Puri: The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical & Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an International organization of seven Nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people. The BIMSTEC members states are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal & Bhutan. BIMSTEC, a sector-driven cooperative organization, has identified 14 priority areas where a member country takes lead. India is lead country for Transport & Communications, Tourism, Counter Terrorism & Transnational Crime and Environment & Disaster Management.
In the recent past it has been noticed that there is an increasing trend in the frequency of disaster and the extent of damage to human lives, properties and cultural heritages. The BIMSTEC region is prone to almost all possible types of disasters including earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, floods, cyclones, tsunami, drought, forest fire etc.
During the 4th BIMSTEC Summit at Kathmandu in August 2018, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India proposed to host the 2nd BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise at the Expert Group meeting of NDMAs / NDMOs of BIMSTEC Nation in 2019 in India. Accordingly, it was decided that BIMSTEC-DMEx will be conducted at Puri, Odisha in February, 2020 with the theme “Cultural Heritage Site that Suffers Severe Damage in an Earthquake” and a “Cultural heritage site that is affected by flooding or storm surge”. In view of the above, the preparatory meeting for the 2nd BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise for the year 2020 is being organized in Puri involving the delegates from all the 7 BIMSTEC nations on 14-15 November, 2019 by NDRF. Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), on behalf of the State Government is co-hosting this prestigious International event which will be culminated in organizing BIMSTEC DMEx-2020 and BIMSTEC Expert Group meeting in February 2020.
The main objective of the preparatory meeting is to work out the modalities requirement of BIMSTEC-DMEx 20 in advance, so that maximum benefit can be derived from the exercise. The objective of the proposed BIMSTEC event is to test the existing emergency procedures for notification, preparedness and emergency response in coordinated manner during a major earthquake scenario at cultural heritage site. This will test multi-stakeholder coordination in and disaster scenario involving International, National, State, District and local agencies.
Cultural heritage are a nonrenewable resource to be transmitted to future generations. Considering the immense importance of cultural heritage in the life of community and the strong physiological faith of the people of BIMSTEC region, there is a dire need to pay attention to save these sites during emergencies. The earthquake that occurred in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April 2015 or the 2013 Himalayan region flood are high profile examples of the vulnerability of cultural heritage in the region.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had chosen the historic city of Puri for the preparatory meeting and for main exercise to get the exact scenarios as it houses a number of cultural heritage sites of India that are highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
This is 1st kind of exercise being planned among the BIMSTEC members nations. This exercise will be helpful to chalk out a plan to save our cultural Heritage sites during disasters. We should prefer to pay especial attention to these heritage sites during disasters, augment distinct and combined preparedness.
The main exercise shall be conducted on two scenarios-viz, floods and earthquakes. During this preparatory meeting Conduct of Table Top Exercise (TTx), Field Training Exercise (FTx) and After Action Review (AAR) were discussed. Besides, logistic plan for final BIMSTEC DMEx-20 was also discussed amongst the number Nations.
The preparatory meeting was chaired by Lt. General N.C Marwah, Member, NDMA, Shri Pradeep Jena, Principal Secretary (DM) & Managing Director, OSDMA graced the event as Guest of Honour along with Sri Satya Narayan Pradhan, Director General, NDRF.