The Union Cabinet on Wednesday, August 18 approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the field of disaster management, resilience, and mitigation.
In March 2021, the memorandum of understanding was signed between the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs, the Republic of India and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on cooperation in the field of Disaster Management, Resilience and Mitigation. The aim was to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to manage the climate and disaster risks.
Disaster Management, Resilience and Mitigation
The MoU signed between the two countries seeks to put in place a system, whereby both India and Bangladesh will be benefited from the disaster management mechanisms of each other. Furthermore, it will also strengthen the areas of preparedness, response and capacity building in the field of disaster management.
Status of Disasters in India
Disasters are naturally occurring or human-infused events, catastrophe, mishap, or calamity, that may result in loss of life and damage to property. India is a peninsular country and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west and the Bay of Bengal on the east.
According to India’s National Policy on Disaster Management, India is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, droughts, cyclones, tsunami, landslides, and avalanches. Almost 59% of India’s landmass is prone to earthquakes; over 12% of the land is prone to floods; about 76% of the coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; 68% of the cultivable area is drought-prone, and hilly areas are subject to wet and dry landslides and avalanches.
The National Disaster Management Authority under the Government of India looks after the management, rescue, and mitigation operations in India. The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) for capacity building and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the response have also been set up for the management of disasters.
Disasters in Bangladesh
According to the study (Disasters in Bangladesh, Rahman et al), the geographical setting and meteorological characteristics has made the country vulnerable to different geo-hazards and hydrometeorological hazards or disasters. The frequently occurring disasters in the country are floods, cyclones, droughts, tidal surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, river erosion, fire, infrastructure collapse, arsenic contamination of groundwater, water logging, water and soil salinity, cold wave, building collapse, epidemic and various forms of pollution, etc.
The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Bangladesh, looks after and is responsible for disaster management and relief in the country.
What would the MoU do?
In case, a large-scale disaster occurs in the respective territory of the countries, either of the party can request support of the other for response and recovery. In other words, the MoU extends mutual support on request of either Party at the time of a large-scale disaster (natural or man-made) occurring within their respective territories, in the field of relief, response, reconstruction and recovery.
Advantage of technology
The MoU would also ensure the exchange of relevant information, remote sensing, and other scientific data. Under it, both the countries can share their experiences and best practices in disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and capacity building for ensuring resilience. Further, it also extends cooperation in the field of advanced information technology, early warning systems, remote sensing and navigation services, and expertise for disaster preparedness, response and mitigation by way of real-time data sharing.
In 2017, India and Bangladesh had signed an MoU for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics (IT&E), for a period of five years.
Training under the MoU
The MoU would also facilitate the training of officials in the field of disaster management. Further, to create Disaster Resilient Communities, joint disaster management exercises, sharing of technological know-how, tools, standards would take place between both the countries.
Exchange of resource material
The MoU between the two neighbors would also facilitate the exchange of publications and materials in the form of textbooks and disaster management guidelines. In addition to this, joint research activities may also be conducted to tackle, manage, reduce and recover from the occurrence of any disaster.