UN lauds India’s zero casualty policy, evacuation of 1 million

United Nations agency for disaster risk reduction showered praises on the accuracy of India Meteorological Department’s warnings in advance which helped authorities in Odisha evacuate millions of people and reduce deaths as the deadly Cyclone Fani hit the coastal city of Puri, PTI reported.

At least 12 people died in Odisha in the storm, which is the most powerful to hit the nation in 20 years. In fact, the toll was ‘far less than feared’ as authorities of the state were able to get people to shelter and away from the danger zone.

“India’s zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai Framework and the reduction of loss of life from such events,” Mami Mizutori, the UN Special Representative for Disaster and Risk Reduction tweeted. “I look forward to hearing more about Cyclone Fani at the Global Platform 2019 from May 13 to 17.”

The Sendai Framework is a 15-year voluntary and non-binding contract signed in 2015 that recognises national governments play a substantial role in cutting down disaster risk. According to it, the responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders, local governments, the private sector and other stakeholders.

Appreciating government’s readiness, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction spokesperson Denis McLean said, as per PTI, that “the almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the India Meteorological Department had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters”.

Odisha officials said the state had taken the lessons from the disaster wrought by a dangerous super cyclone in 1999 that eliminated thousands of people and even wiped off villages from maps.

“We have a very serious commitment on this – there should not be any loss of life,” Bishnupada Sethi, Odisha’s special relief commissioner, told The New York Times. “This is not the work of a day or a month but of 20 years.”

Cyclone Fani entered West Bengal after crossing Odisha and then gradually weakened into a deep depression before entering Bangladesh. Also, it is expected to weaken into a depression by tonight itself.