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'Wider maritime cooperation needed to tackle natural calamities'

Posted on Feb 05 2014 | IANS

By Anurag Dey, Port Blair, Feb 5 : Observing that it was not possible for a single power to counter natural calamities, navies from 16 countries Wednesday called for larger mutual maritime cooperation and coordination for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Participating in an international seminar on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) on the opening day of the Milan 2014 annual congregation of navies from the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region at the Andaman and Nicobar Command here, the speakers repeatedly stressed on the need for greater cooperation.

Speaking on the occasion, the Indian Navy chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, said: "Managing any natural disaster calls for collective and collaborative efforts so that succour can be provided to the needful in the shortest possible time and in a most efficient manner."

"The threat of natural disasters, especially hydro-metereological disasters, will remain a serious and common challenge. This requires cooperation between our nations and navies to mitigate losses and improve disaster management," Adm Joshi added.

The Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN), Air Marshal P.K. Roy, said: "One of the biggest challenges will be to ensure effective and timely response as well as coordination between multiple domestic and international agencies and the military assets on the scene of action."

The CINCAN also suggested establishing a web-based portal into which international response teams could seamlessly plug in to ensure effective coordination of response at the scene of action.

First Commander Amarulla Octavian of the Indonesian Navy said India's Look East policy has allowed it to emerge a big player in Southeast Asia.

Like the major role India has been playing in countering piracy, it should also reach out more to other navies in the region to build up a greater corporation for HADR operations, Octavian said.

"The Asia-Pacific is the most vulnerable to tsunamis so it is imperative that the navies of the region work in tandem and have mutual coordination for providing greater and timely relief," he added.

Milan, which began in 1995, has drawn the largest participation this year. Navies from 16 countres including Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Singapore, among others, are participating in the latest edition.

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