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Uttarakhand exposed India's vulnerability, says PM

Uttarakhand exposed Indias vulnerability, says PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday that the flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand which killed thousands have exposed India's vulnerability to natural disasters.

"The large-scale loss of life, property and public infrastructure due to rains and floods in Uttarakhand point not only to India's vulnerability to disasters but also to the need to take effective measures to prevent such disasters and contain their fall out when they occur," he said here.

Manmohan Singh was speaking at the ninth formation day of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here.

He added that it was important to learn the right lessons from the Uttarakhand tragedy, which has also devastated the state's key pilgrimage centres.

The prime minister appreciated the role played by various agencies of the central and state governments as well as voluntary organisations and common people in rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand.

"I also pay homage to those brave men and women from the Indian Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force, civil administration, civilian air crew and the community at large who laid down their lives in trying to save others," he said.

He said that though the post-disaster phase of rescue and relief in Uttarakhand had been largely completed, the task of reconstruction, rehabilitation and restoration of livelihood was far from over.

Thousands perished in the flash floods and landslides in the hill state in June. For weeks, thousands were stranded and rescued with great difficulty.

The prime minister said the central government was committed to fully assist the Uttarakhand government in the task of rehabilitation.

A cabinet committee has been constituted to provide broad guidance and support to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Uttarakhand, he said.

Observing that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather had increased globally, Manmohan Singh said this had serious implications for the sustained growth and development of India's economy.

Though NDMA's efforts to increase awareness and strengthen disaster preparedness in the country were particularly significant, much remains to be done to make India disaster resilient, Manmohan Singh said.

"Our forecasting and early warning capabilities need to be strengthened and upgraded.

"Our communication systems need to be improved to ensure that disaster alerts and warnings reach the last person in the village without delay," he said.

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