Manipur Relief and Disaster Management Minister Awangbow Newmai on Saturday sought 100 per cent CSS funding from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to strengthen the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) of the Northeast states.
Speaking at the 3rd session of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) 2023 chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, Newmai pointed out that all the Northeastern states are facing serious problems of remoteness and inaccessibility.
He said earthquakes and landslides are huge problems for all the states in Northeast which fall under seismic zone-V except Sikkim, which falls in seismic zone-IV.
As a result the Northeast states are vulnerable to earthquake, he added while citing some of some major earthquakes such as Assam Earthquake 1897 (June 12, 1897) of magnitude 8.3 on Richter scale, Manipur Earthquake 1988 of magnitude 7.2 on Richter scale and Manipur Earthquake 2016 (January 4, 2016) of magnitude 6.7 on Richter scale.
Highlighting the Centre’s plan to implement a larger national initiative in landslide and earthquake risk mitigation, he stressed the need of significant investments in these areas for a long time so that the Northeast become more resilient states in dealing with seismic and geological hazards.
While the NE states always draw upon NDRF for better response, there is indeed a need to strengthen the SDRF, he said, pointing out that the institutional setup in Northeast is small and do not have many professionally trained people in the area of disaster management.
Generally, the officials and personnel for SDRF are drawn from state police by attachment, he informed, stressing the need of a committed independent SDRF as they have to be given specialised training.
Pointing out that the Northeastern states are facing resource problems for payment of their salaries, the minister drew the attention of the Central government to consider funding the expenses of SDRF on the similar lines of IRB.
“The NDRF may like to think of support to provide necessary funding for engagement of necessary staff or consultants to all states as a 100 per cent CS scheme,” said Newmai.
The minister also pointed out the need to depend upon community-level responders as first responders in any disasters and the need to implement a more evolved and comprehensive capacity building programme for effective local level response through community level volunteers.
He further stressed the need for more resources for strengthening the fire services so that they can reach the most remote corners of the states.
“In fact we need better technical and professional support in our immediate neighbourhood and, therefore, your kind attention to these issues would be extremely helpful,” he added.
Newmai also extended gratitude to the Central government as the allocations of the SDRF and State Disaster Mitigation Fund SDMF through the 15 Finance Commission recommendations have been raised significantly for all the states.