National Convention on Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction held
There is a shocking and consistent pattern of discrimination and exclusion faced by vulnerable communities and groups in all interventions pertaining to disaster response, mitigation and risk reduction.
The objectives were to hear from the experiences of experts and frontline personnel from Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Odisha, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat; to assess the current DRR/ DM processes in India for strategising Dalit inclusion agenda; to identify the areas and actions for future interventions; and hold policy dialogue with parliamentarians to strengthen the inclusion aspects in the Disaster Management Act and the National Disaster Relief Fund/State Disaster Relief Fund compensation norms in the future.
In his introductory speech, NCDHR General Secretary Paul Divakar spoke about how exclusion was rampant and there were no laws and regulations to address it.
Srikrishna from Oxfam said, "Attitudinal changes from the higher sections of the society can make the much needed difference to the plight of the Dalits during disasters."
Challenges in visibilising caste discrimination and exclusion in disasters were discussed. A policy review of the amendments and revisions in the current mechanisms was also done. It was also suggested that there is a need for disaster management committees at the village level to stop such discrimination.
The conference was attended by Oscar Fernandes of the Congress, Dharam Vir Gandhi of the Aam Admi Party and BJD Rajya Sabha MP Baishanab Charan Parida. While confirming that cases of discrimination are very evident and is an undeniable truth that exists in our country, Oscar Fernandes said, "Disaster relief and rehabilitation should ensure that the Dalits and other weaker sections are not pushed again below the poverty line by simply replacing their shacks with shacks washed away in floods. They should be given better houses to live in." Rajya Sabha MP Parida too agreed that discrimination still exists. Pointing out that Dalit habitations still have no roads, he said, "They are deprived of housing too." He also stated that diversion of funds should be raised seriously and assured that he will raise the issue in the parliamentary session.
Participants believed that this is the right time to introduce the issues to the newly formed government since the government wants to maintain stability.