"India is a leading country now in disaster management. We have to be well prepared in dealing with disasters," Rijiju, who is leading a high-level Indian delegation for the second World Reconstruction Conference being held at the World Bank, told PTI in an interview. In his intervention at the three-day conference that began yesterday, which among others, was attended by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Rijiju briefed them about the steps that the Indian government was taking to meet the challenges posed by disasters both man-made and natural.
It is in this regard that the minister said the Union government has "earmarked 10 per cent funds in all development schemes" for disaster mitigation, recovery and innovation. This amounts to USD 5.5 billion for 2014-2015.
"This is likely to increase over the years, as we tend to invest more and more in development schemes," he said. Only the second Union Minister of the Modi government to visit the US, Rijiju said India also has a system of funding in the form of dedicated funds for disaster response, capacity building and mitigation.
The minister also briefed the participants of the Conference on the steps that the government has taken in the massive floods that has ravaged the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Globally, natural disasters have caused damages of nearly USD 4 trillion over the past 30 years and the frequency and intensity of these powerful storms, droughts and earthquakes continue to rise.
Leaders from developing countries, civil society, private sector and agencies including the World Bank, European Union and United Nations are attending the conference to discuss how vulnerable countries can better prepare and protect hard-won development gains by establishing recovery strategies and processes before disaster strikes.
The conference will explore a range of themes related to post-disaster recovery, including the importance of international cooperation, methods for ensuring the efficiency of physical reconstruction, technological and green innovations, recovery in fragile and conflict situations, and reconstruction within the context of a country's overall development goals. Rijiju said the Union government was taking a series of steps towards disaster mitigation, recovery and innovation.