Ten years of Tsunami; India expresses solidarity with Indonesia

The lush picturesque ambiance of Indian embassy in Indonesia

The lush picturesque ambiance of Indian embassy in Indonesia

Government of India has expressed solidarity with Government and the people of Indonesia on occasion of Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster commemoration event, being organized by Indonesia at Banda Aceh on 26th December, 2014. Basir Ahmed, Consul General of India in Medan, will be representing the event on behalf of Government of India.

In a special communique to RNI, Basir Ahmed has expressed India’s solidarity with all the victims of Tsunami, particularly to the people of Indonesia and India. Said Basir Ahmed: “On this solemn occasion, the Government and people of India would like to pay homage to all the victims of Indian Ocean Tsunami which devastated coastal areas in 13 countries, including India and Indonesia in 2004. India shares the grief of the Government and the people of Indonesia on the loss of life and property and devastation caused by the Tsunami on an unprecedented scale and expresses its solidarity with all Indonesians.”

To those uninformed, the Government and the people of India had engaged in an unprecedented effort to overcome the loss of life and devastation caused by the Tsunami not only in India but also in the friendly countries. In India, the Tsunami had caused extensive damage in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Pondicherry. India takes pride in the fact that even while it has had to cope with the Tsunami disaster within its own shores, it was able to extend modest assistance to friendly neighbouring countries, which had suffered extensive damage from this natural disaster.

As part of the Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief Operation undertaken in response to the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy deployed 32 naval ships, seven aircraft and 20 helicopters in support of five simultaneous rescue, relief and reconstruction missions as part of ‘Operation Gambhir’ (Indonesia), ‘Operation Castor’ (Maldives), ‘Operation Rainbow’ (Sri Lanka), ‘Operation Madad’ (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coast) and ‘Operation Sea Waves’ (Andaman & Nicobar Islands). On 26 December 2004, the day Tsunami hit the subcontinent, the Indian Navy deployed 19 ships, four aircraft, and 11 helicopters. Indian Naval groups were able to start the rescue operations in neighbouring countries within 12 hours from the time of the Tsunami and were the first foreign navy to reach in most cases.

India was among the first countries to provide assistance amounting to US$ 1 million in relief supplies to Indonesia following the 2004 Tsunami disaster. The Indian Navy launched Operation Gambhir deploying two warships INS Khukri and INS Nirupak to Indonesia with 40 tonnes of relief aid including 3 tonnes of medical relief supplies. INS Nirupak which is a survey ship was converted into a full-fledged 50 bedded hospital ship equipped with medical facilities such as X-ray and ICU and dispatched to the affected area.

The Indian Minister for External Affairs also attended the Special ASEAN Summit that was organized in Jakarta on 6 January

2005 in the aftermath of the Tsunami, where India and ASEAN countries agreed to deepen efforts to jointly address such tragedies in future. India and ASEAN agreed to cooperate in the field of space technology and its applications for weather forecasting and disaster mitigation.

A BIMSTEC Centre on Weather and Climate was established in New Delhi. India proposed activating a regional approach that complements national efforts to handle natural disasters which would allow to pool together respective strengths and complementarities effectively and efficiently.

India also proposed to look at medium to long term objectives to deal with both emergency relief issues as well as with later phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction. India committed to continue its support and assistance in every possible way, including providing trained search and rescue teams, setting up web-based disaster management information systems, and human resources development for disaster management.

Post-2004 Tsunami, India has been actively involved in supporting initiatives by Indonesia and the ASEAN to formulate universal SOPs and develop regional expertise and improve command control and coordination mechanisms to deal with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief contingencies in the future. The salient details of Indian participation in maritime based disaster relief exercises include the Indian Naval Ship Kesari with a contingent of the National Disaster Reaction Force participating in the ARF DIREX conducted at Manado in 2011, participation by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Batallion Commander National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the ADMM Plus steered Mentawai Megathrust International Table Top Exercise held at Padang in 2013 and the participation of INS Sukanya in the inaugural edition of the Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo organised by the Indonesian Navy based on a HADR scenario at Batam, Natuna and Anambas Islands in 2014.

On 4-5 December 2013, India hosted an EAS Roundtable to discuss application of information technology for rapid disaster response and recovery in New Delhi. On that occasion, a Virtual Knowledge Portal was launched at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India to facilitate real time sharing of information on disasters among relevant agencies from EAS participating countries.

The Government of India extended assistance in setting up a Vocational Training Centre for the Construction (VTCC) sector in Aceh in the aftermath of Tsunami. The VTCC, Aceh is located at the campus of Syiah Kuala University. The VTCC continues to impart training in carpentry, masonry and brickworks, surveying, steelworks, form works and welding. The Government of India had provided assistance of INR 53.1 million for the Centre by supplying machinery & equipment and conducting training programme for trainers.

During the visit of former Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh to Indonesia in October 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Disaster Management Authority of the Republic of India and the National Agency for Disaster Management of the Republic of Indonesia on Cooperation in the field of Disaster Management was signed, which aims to develop cooperation through exchange of information, training and capacity building, joint planning, development and implementation of research projects, and exchange of scientific and technological publications.

Basir Ahmed further informed that Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is deeply committed to increase collaboration in the field of disaster prevention and management as part of the Act East Policy.