Home Minister Rajnath Singh today pitched for diplomatic efforts to bring consensus among different countries on sharing hydrological data on rivers, a month after China did not share information on Brahmaputra. Inaugurating the 13th formation day of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here, Singh said hydrological data on rivers should be shared by the neighbouring countries for flood mitigation and a consensus needs to be developed in this regard.
The home minister said India is hit by floods every year and hence there is a need to take diplomatic initiatives to deal with flood problem in the country. “Some may ask what kind of diplomatic efforts should be taken to solve the flood problem. Hydrological data of some rivers, which come from another country, should be shared. “As of now, I think, there is no such arrangement. I think there should be diplomatic initiatives in this regard. We must try to enhance cooperation and consensus with our neighbouring countries,” he said.
On August 18, the External Affairs Ministry had said there is an existing expert-level mechanism, established in 2006, and there are two MoUs under which China is expected to share hydrological data on rivers Sutlej and Brahmaputra with India during the flood season of May 15 to June 15. “For this year, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said. However, Kumar had said, it was “premature” to link it with the floods in Assam as there can be “technical reasons” behind China not sharing the data. At that time, the border standoff at Dokalam between India and China was on.
The home minister expressed hope that a beginning in this regard will be made during the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) disaster management exercise to be held in India next month. Singh said all countries stand together when there is any humanitarian issue. He said there could be differences on some issues among the countries, but all nations stand together in case of any disaster in the world. The home minister said when any country enhances its capabilities and expertise, it gets success in getting others close to it.
Singh said every country has a boundary, but the nature does not recognise these boundaries. Any disaster happening in any country is bound to affect the neighbouring country in that geographical area. He said India had extended help to earthquake-hit Nepal in 2014 and also India had sent NDRF team to Japan for help. Speaking on this year’s theme of ‘school safety’, Singh said the children can volunteer in this area and their energy and imagination can be of great help to NDMA.
In his address, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba said legal and institutional systems in place for disaster management should be further strengthened. He said climatic conditions and density of population make India prone to disasters. He said 2 per cent of the GDP is lost due to disasters. Gauba said now there is a paradigm shift from relief- centric approach to holistic approach towards disasters. He said a 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 said.