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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Focus on limiting infrastructure loss caused by national calamity

According to an NDMA estimate, the loss in Odisha’s power sector was 30% of total losses caused by Fani, amounting to nearly $1.2 billion.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2019 03:33 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
**EDS: WITH BHASHA STORY PRADESHIK6** Puri: A woman stands in the remnants of her home in the aftermath of cyclone 'Fani', at the heritage crafts village Raghurajpur, in Puri district, Friday, May 10, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI5_13_2019_000058B)
**EDS: WITH BHASHA STORY PRADESHIK6** Puri: A woman stands in the remnants of her home in the aftermath of cyclone 'Fani', at the heritage crafts village Raghurajpur, in Puri district, Friday, May 10, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI5_13_2019_000058B)(PTI)
         

The primary objective of the global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced at the UN Climate Summit on September 23, is to create a mechanism to minimise infrastructure losses caused by calamities like the extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, that ripped through the Odisha coast on May 3, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) officials said.

According to an NDMA estimate, the loss in Odisha’s power sector was 30% of total losses caused by Fani, amounting to nearly $1.2 billion (Rs, 8,525 crore).

“If you don’t have power, you don’t have telecom because it has limited backup. If you don’t have backup, you cannot draw money from ATM machines. In many situations in Odisha, people didn’t want government assistance; they wanted access to their own money. There is direct damage and a knock-on effect on productivity from such infrastructure loss,” said Kamal Kishore, member, NDMA, which will represent India in the global coalition. Similar infrastructure losses were witnessed during 2018Kerala and Maharashtra floods.

The ministry of external affairs and the PM have reached out to all G20 nations and 17 other countries seeking their participation in the coalition, Kishore said. At least 15 countries have extended support to the body, ranging from the United States and Australia to smaller ones like Fiji , but no official announcement has been made yet. A preliminary plan for the coalition is ready, NDMA officials said.

In the next phase, NDMA plans to reach out to other players including multilateral organisations such as World Bank or United Nations Development Programme , the private sector and academic institutions.

The reason India came up with this idea is that it is going to be among the largest infrastructure builders in future alongside China and a few other developing nations, Kishore told HT in an interview. “The infrastructure which is there in developed countries is already there. We have the huge opportunity to get it right,” he said.

Kishore said a lack of resilience is not a problem for developing countries alone. “Less than a year ago, there was a major bridge collapse in Italy; highway disruptions in the US, earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima in Japan are some examples. A lot of infrastructure is completing life cycle, and they have to be replaced,” he added.

CDRI will foster knowledge sharing and capacity building. Experienced countries can also provide hands-on support. “The country will have to decide what the acceptable level of risk is because resilience building is expensive,” added Kishore.

“The government’s initiative to make infrastructure resilient to disasters and climate change is a step in the right direction. However, as global average temperature increases and related impacts continue to get worse, the government needs to understand that climate change does not only impact the infrastructure, but people too,” said Harjeet Singh, global climate lead, ActionAid International, a non-governmental organisation.

First Published: Oct 10, 2019 23:01 IST

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