Date : 15th November, 2019 Time : 1600 Hrs

The preparatory meeting for 2nd Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation Disaster Management Exercise (BIMSTEC DMEx-2020) commenced on 14th November 2019 at Mayfair Hotel & Resorts, Puri, Odisha. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) N C Marwah, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), was the Chief Guest at the inaugural session. This marked the first phase of the 2nd ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2020’ scheduled for 11-13 February, 2020, and comprises of a Preparatory Meeting and field visit to the site selected for Field Training Exercise (FTx) for main exercise. The exercise was organized by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as a nodal agency. The theme of the exercise is- “Response to a cultural heritage site that suffers severe damage in an earthquake” & “Response to a Cultural Heritage site that is affected by flooding or storm surge”.

The main objective of the Preparatory Meeting was to work out the modalities and requirement of BIMSTEC DMEx-2020 in advance. The main focus of BIMSTEC DMEx will be to test the existing procedures for notification, preparedness and response to an emergency in a coordinated manner during a major earthquake scenario & flooding or storm surge at the cultural heritage site. This will test multi-stakeholders coordination in a disaster scenario involving international, national, state, district and local agencies.

During the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held at Kathmandu in August, 2018, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India proposed to host the 2nd BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise and the expert Group Meeting of NDMAs/NDMOs of BIMSTEC Nation in 2019-20 in India.

Delivering the inaugural address, Lt. Gen. Marwah said that BIMSTEC region is rich in cultural heritage but prone to various kinds of disasters. Citing the examples of recent disasters that took place in the BIMSTEC countries and affected heritage sites, Hon’ble chief guest felt the need of comprehensive and systematic action for safety of heritage sites during a disaster especially during floods and earthquake scenarios.

Chief Guest further added that during last 10 years, the frequency of cyclone in the region has increased by over 30% and caused severe damage to the heritage sites. He also underlined frequent changes in the climatic condition, its effect on the heritage sites and steps to be taken for prevention of these heritages sites.
Guest of Honour, Sh. Pradeep Kumar Jena, Special Relief Commissioner, Govt. of Odisha highlighted tremendous progress made by India in disaster response and disaster risk reduction during last 20 years. He also commended Indian Metrological Department (IMD) for dissemination of early and accurate warning, including intensity, path, speed and impact of cyclones, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for advance pre-positioning during disasters and specialized response and well coordination with all agencies/stakeholders during disasters. Comparing 1999 super cyclone to 2013 cyclone Phaillin, Mr. Jena said, now, we are better equipped & prepared in term of technology, equipment, manpower and resources in the fields of Disaster Management. He said that Odisha is the first state that set up it’s State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) & District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

Welcoming the august gathering Director General, NDRF, Shri Satya Narayan Pradhan said the modalities and requirements of the 2nd ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2020 would be worked out during the course of the two-day Preparatory Meeting. He underlined that the theme of disaster response at a cultural heritage site is a first of its kind in India. NDRF is working in collaboration with other stakeholders including states with significant heritage sites to sustain this drive and awareness in a campaign mode. He commended Govt. of Odisha for taking this highly critical domain of comprehensive disaster management.

Sh. Pankaj Hazarika, Director, BIMSTEC Secretariat, representatives from Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and DOERS also expressed their views during the meeting. Presentations were made by representatives of each BIMSTEC member nation on their national experience in dealing with earthquake scenario at a cultural heritage site. Representative from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) presented a case study on experience and works of ASI in restoration of various cultural & heritage sites. INTACH also shared its experiences in preservation of tangible & non-tangible cultural heritage.

In addition, senior officers from MEA, NDMA, NDRF and representatives from all seven BIMSTEC nations, - namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, are participating in the Preparatory Meeting. The Government of India has entrusted the responsibility of organizing the 2nd ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2020’ to the NDRF.
On the second day of the Preparatory Meeting BIMSTEC DMEx-2020 “ field visit of Ramachandi beach and Konark Sun Temple in Odisha was conducted for the representatives of all seven BIMSTEC nations by NDRF.

The purpose of the site visit was to acquaint the delegates about the general narrative (flood & earthquake scenarios) planned for the main exercise for fruitful & active participation and to prepare for main exercise to be held w.e.f 11-13 February, 2020.

For smooth conduct of main exercise detailed discussion on various issues were held with the visiting delegates. The representative from all member nations, Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH), and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shared their views to finalise the narratives for main exercise.

The representatives were briefed about objective, scenario (flood & earthquake) and sequence of actions for the main exercise. The delegates of all member nations also conducted sapling plantation.

Concluding the preparatory meeting the Director General NDRF thanked all the delegates for their active and fruitful participation in the meeting and expressed hope that BIMSTEC DMEx – 2020 will go a long way in formulating an effective disaster response mechanism in the region. All the delegates appreciated the efforts of Govt. of India and BIMSTEC Secretariat. The delegates were impressed by the efforts of NDRF in hosting this mega event.
The second phase of exercise is scheduled for 11-13 February, 2020 at Puri, Odisha. It shall be comprise of Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) and After Action Review (AAR).

Issued By PR Cell, NDRF HQ, New Delhi.