Disaster Risk Reduction Day observed with focus on volunteerism

Gangtok, 18 Sept (IPR): State Disaster Risk Reduction Day themed, ’Volunteerism in Disaster Management,’ organized by the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority was held today at Chintan Bhawan.

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, present as the chief guest today, applauded the initiatives of SSDMA for taking active part in various activities for mitigation of disasters.

He highlighted how the brand of Sikkim has increased throughout the country and commended the various programmes like trainings of stakeholders, capacity building, awareness and sensitization programmes etc which have helped the state towards a disaster resilient and prepared society.

Mr Chamling announced that all prominent helpers/ NGOs/ SHGs involved in disaster management will be felicitated during Republic Day.

He also announced that by 2020, Sikkim will be made a model state in disaster management.

The Chief Minister also talked about self-development and said that in earlier times, the Sikkimese people were closer and more helpful towards one another. The bond was substantial and community participation during times of crisis were foremost. He called upon all to enhance resilience and take up sense of ownership.

The CM also stressed on taking preventive measures and doing elementary checking so that the end goal is more concrete and fruitful.

He directed the Chief Secretary to oversee that all new infrastructure is made earthquake resistant.

The Chief Minister said that global warming was the leading cause of natural calamities in the world and that the ban on pesticides and use of bio-degradable products help the environment to a great extent.

Coexistence of people and nature is the main goal and he highlighted about the various environmental policies which the state government has implemented in the state.

He announced introduction of Disaster Management as a subject at the Primary School level from next academic session. He also stressed on importance of education in disaster management and said that awareness programmes should start from GPU level itself.

At the end he urged all the stakeholders, students and people in general to make best use of information, awareness programmes which will help build resilience towards impact of disasters emerging from natural calamities.

Chief Secretary AK Shrivastava talked about the state’s journey from past to the present as a disaster resilient state.

He suggested that since we live in an earthquake-prone area, we must equip ourselves to face any challenge and difficulty when it comes to natural calamities.

He said that sustainable development initiatives are a must and preparedness, risk reduction, post rehabilitation and preparedness efforts are as crucial during times of distress.

Vice Chairperson (SSDMA), VK Sharma, in his address, said that Sikkim is always been associated with development. He stated about the importance of studies related to disaster management and talked about how the state was acknowledged in Kyoto University for its progressiveness in disaster management.

The welcome address was presented by State Relief Commissioner, Secretary-LR&DMD who highlighted the significance of Disaster Risk Reduction Day. He said that volunteers play a crucial role in disaster management and without their help SSDMA would be crippled.

Thus, to felicitate such noble gestures, Certificates of Appreciation were conferred on five organizations and various individuals who were involved in the GLOF mitigation measures at South Lonak Lake. Certificate of Appreciation was also presented to NGOs who helped in various mock drills etc.

Special Secretary, Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department, R Chewang, also spoke on volunteer organizations of Sikkim involved in Disaster Management.

Earlier experiences of various facets were shared by Palzor Lachungpa (Co-ordinator, Sikkim Helping Hands); Sabina Darnal (Pandam, Volunteer, Aapda Mitra; Meera Rai (Panchayat Member, Poklok- Denchung GPU, South Sikkim); MK Gurung (President, Youth Development Society, Dalapchand GPU).

A video on the history of disasters and response mechanisms in the State was also screened during the function. Release of the SSDMA Newsletter was also done by the CM during the function and earlier the theme song of the programme was performed by students of West Point Senior Secondary School.