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'Tech, not govt, key to disaster management'

Ehtasham Khan in Mumbai | January 09, 2005 18:25 IST

The key to managing natural calamities is technology and management and not government, according to US technocrat and consultant Sam Pitroda.

"Governments cannot manage disasters. India did its best with available resources [after the tsunami disaster]. [But] Nothing could be done in the absence of necessary technology," Pitroda, who was chairing a session on disaster management at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Mumbai, said.

The session was added to the event after the killer waves struck coastal southern India last month.

Addressing the jam-packed audience at National Center for Performing Arts complex in Mumbai, Pitroda, better known for revolutionising the telecommunication system in India, also called for a policy on disaster management. 
He said the policy should be evolved after a public debate and it should be transparent. He also advocated defining the role of voluntary groups carrying out relief and rehabilitation works during a disaster.

Pitroda said the disaster management cell, currently under the agriculture ministry, should be shifted to the Prime Minister's Office to give it importance.

Associations of engineers and doctors should also be involved for disaster management and their role should be defined.

He also came down upon the bureaucratic set-up in India. "The system you have in India is hierarchic and feudal. The sooner you remove this, the better it will be for the country," Pitroda remarked.

Pitroda asked the government to focus on using technology, especially remote sensing and robotics, to be forewarned about natural disasters. He said sensors should be put in place to detect the movements below sea and land. The technology for detecting such movements is available, he added.

He also urged the government to develop a management information system, as, during disaster, communication was important to coordinate relief work between the field staff and those pooling in and sending resources.

Citing an example of how lack of proper information could hamper relief work, he said in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake, medicines could not reach the needy in time because there was no map to guide the medics to the affected places.

Pitroda also said there should be at least 500 professional psychiatrics and social workers to counsel survivors in the aftermath of a tragedy. There is also a need for community training, he added.

Minister of Overseas Indians Affairs Jagdish Tytler, who, along with United Nations Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor and Secretary to the ministry Krishna Kumar, shared the dais with Petroda, assured the audience that the government would work on the suggestions.


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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: Technology and disaster management

C'mon Mr. Pitroda you got to be kidding. Technology is NOT the key in any situation involving problem solving. It is important to realize that ...

Posted by Ramsundar Lakshminarayanan


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