Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jan 1, 2005: a post on; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 1, 2005

Manmohan deputes two Ministers to Andamans

By Our Special Correspondent
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 30. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has deputed his Minister of State for Home, Prakash Jaiswal, and the Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications, Shakeel Ahmed, to Port Blair and Car Nicobar to oversee the relief and rescue operations there following the devastation wrought by Sunday's tsunami.

At a press conference here this evening, Dr. Singh said the two Ministers would be stationed there for six to seven days. A Central team would visit the affected States and undertake an assessment of the damage and loss. Dr. Singh addressed the press at the Raj Bhavan after visits to Colachel and Tiruchi and a one-hour discussion with the Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, and his Cabinet Colleagues.

Dr. Singh said the Government was considering a long-term rehabilitation plan that would emphasise on not only full rehabilitation but also better quality of life. "Professional expertise will be inducted for developing rehabilitation projects. House reconstruction will focus on improving the quality of habitat as well. Focus would be on area development."
The Centre would look into the need to improve the disaster forecasting and warning systems at the national and State levels and through international cooperation. Terming the tsunami tragedy a "national calamity", Dr. Singh said the Centre was committed to providing all possible help to ensure relief and rehabilitation. The Centre and the States would have to work together to bring out an environment-friendly development strategy.

New mechanisms

To a question on whether the Centre proposed to follow the same traditional path of rehabilitation, Dr. Singh said all innovative means would be considered, aimed at providing protection to the people from disasters. "This would include new mechanisms, including new insurance mechanism," he said. The Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, had already announced the decision to bring in a law to set up a National Disaster Management Authority. This would enable the country to handle national calamities.

Asked whether the Coastal Zone Regulation Act should not be enforced more strictly, Dr. Singh said all efforts should be directed in that direction. On whether he was satisfied with the international response to India's plight, he said several countries had offered assistance. The United States President, George W. Bush, had spoken to him personally offering his country's assistance. "But I told them we have enough resources and would be happy to receive assistance when needed."

Dr. Singh will visit the affected areas in Kollam and Alapuzha on Friday.
Debi Goenka
Bombay Environmental Action Group

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