Will India’s idea on disaster management gain global support?3 min read . Updated: 24 Jul 2019, 01:18 AM IST
- Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infra to be discussed at G7 meet in August
- PM Modi feels that there is space for major nations, particularly the G20 members, to have some kind of an informal arrangement where capacity building and technical know-how can be shared
NEW DELHI : The proposed Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) was first discussed at G20 summits, and could now be taken up at the G7 meet next month in Biarritz, where India has been invited by hosts France, along with Australia, Chile and South Africa.
CDRI was first suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Hamburg G20 meet in 2017, and then again at the Buenos Aires and Osaka G20 meetings in 2018 and 2019. Modi “had flagged an important space, which we believe is yet to be filled by anybody and this is disaster resilient infrastructure," said foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, while briefing reporters in New Delhi before the Buenos Aires G20 meet in November.
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“Prime Minister (Modi) has been of the view that each time a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world, countries scramble to give immediate relief, but don’t really rebuild the infrastructure back to a state where it is resilient next time a disaster occurs," Gokhale explained.
“There are, of course, United Nations agencies who are doing this work, but the Prime Minister feels that there is space for major countries, particularly the G20 countries, to have some kind of an informal arrangement where we can share capacity building, where we can share technical know-how and experiences immediately after a country faces a disaster, which leads to significant infrastructure erosion or development, and where immediate relief has been provided subsequently," Gokhale added.
“India has circulated a concept paper to all G20 countries on this subject and we have got very positive feedback and I think the Prime Minister will elaborate the next steps of taking this forward," he had then said.
According to two government officials familiar with the developments, Modi’s own experience in dealing with the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake had a hand in shaping this idea. His task, as the chief minister, was to rehabilitate the affected. “He supervised the rebuilding of earthquake-affected Gujarat," said the first official, recalling that Modi had been sent to Gujarat by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to ensure quick reconstruction of the affected areas after the devastating earthquake of January 2001.
One of the countries that had come forward with its expertise to help Gujarat back then was Japan. It was only natural therefore that Modi sought Japan’s help for the launch of the CDRI, considering its experience in dealing with disasters, its ability to put up resilient infrastructure, its role in post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction, besides its financial ability. Modi had also put forth his request during a bilateral meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the June G-20 meeting in Osaka.
“The idea is to build a consensus among countries for this coalition by pooling best practices, expertise and resources," said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal. “It is an idea as of now, which needs to be built up. Given the challenges of climate change-caused altered weather patterns," there is a lot of potential for cooperation among countries, he added.
Indian government officials said the country’s efforts at reducing damage from natural calamities such as cyclones in recent years has been appreciated abroad. A case in point: The massive effort to evacuate around 1.2 million people before Cyclone Fani made landfall in Odisha in May.
According to analysts, the CDRI has the potential to burnish India’s credentials diplomatically and position the country in a leadership role given that it follows and complements India’s efforts to bring together a coalition of countries harnessing solar power under the International Solar Alliance framework – co-launched by India and France. The ISA has helped India cement its reputation as a country looking at renewables, reducing polluting fossil fuels from its energy mix at a time when the US, under President Donald Trump, had walked out of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change. “The CDRI is expected to be a major part of discussions at the upcoming G7 Summit in France," said the second official cited above. “There have already been some preliminary conversations on this with the French, and India is hoping for the same kind of support that we got from France for the ISA for this coalition, as well as from other G-7 countries," he added.