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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 12:19 GMT
Should India be better prepared to cope with natural disasters?

Earthquake in Gujarat; floods in Orissa and Bengal; landslides in the Himalayan foothills; a tidal wave on the Arabian sea coast.

Time and again, India has been hit hard by natural disasters and the authorities seem ill prepared to cope.

With the death toll from Friday's earthquake still rising, and survivors complaining of confusion surrounding relief efforts, questions are being raised about India's response to the disaster.

Is it down to the federal government to make provision for disasters? Or is such criticism unjustified in an area not considered a high risk zone?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Mutual respect and esteem strengthens the capacity to cope with natural disasters

Uttar, Singapore
I agree with Mukhtar Ali. The policymakers seem to be too busy playing power games instead of thinking how to cope up with natural or manmade problems. The Indian subcontinent, not only India, should start focusing on 'natural disaster mitigation programmes' and co-operating with neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh. Mutual respect and esteem strengthens the capacity to cope with natural disasters.
Uttar, Singapore

I honestly doubt whether setting up another high level group will make any difference. As an Indian postdoc here in the university I wanted to make some donation to the Prime Minister's relief fund. To this end I contacted the Indian embassy only to be told that they don't have any such provision. I was politely advised to contact the international Red Cross. Granted my help wouldn't have mattered much but with such callous officialdom I doubt if any committee will make an iota of difference.
Santanu Sengupta, Santiago, Chile

Even after the third major natural disaster in 7 years India seems to be ill prepared for the next one. The Orissa cyclone could not be predicted - why? The seismic chart of the nation was not redrawn - why? It is because of the official apathy of both central and state governments as well as a very short public memory.
C. Verma, UK/ India

The meaning of the phrase "Natural Disaster" simply implies that one can never be better prepared for it. Whether a nation is rich or poor, the disaster will strike and the damage can never be estimated beforehand and cannot be halted. Furthermore for a country such as India that is populated from one inch to the other it is inevitable that a natural disaster will have drastic consequences with regards to lives lost.
Tony W, Sri Lanka/ USA

Neither central government nor the state governments are capable of making provision to cope with natural disasters. The political leaders and the high officials are small-minded and it never occurs to them that such a provision should be made. They fool the people by saying that India is going to be a great military power under which all the countries right from Turkey to Indonesia will fall. Having this destructive attitude and policy it is impossible for them to think about anything constructive.
Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

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