New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) India will host the First Annual Bimstec Disaster Management Exercise here from October 10 to 13, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.
According to a statement issued by the ministry, the Exercise follows the call of Bimstec leaders at the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Goa in October 2016 on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit.
“The main focus of the exercise will be to create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalise regional cooperation and inter-governmental coordination efforts on disaster response among member states,” the statement said.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) came into existence in June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
It comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The main objective of Bimstec is technical and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries along the rim of the Bay of Bengal.
With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) virtually rendered ineffective as a bloc, largely due to non-cooperation on the part of Pakistan in a number of areas, India has been giving more importance to Bimstec in recent times.
The bloc brings together 1.5 billion people or 21 per cent of the world’s population and has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion.
India is the lead country for cooperation in four priority areas: counter-terrorism and transnational crime, transport and communication, tourism and environment, and disaster management.
According to the External Affairs Ministry statement, about 135 delegates from all Bimstec member states, including senior level officials dealing with related policy and operational aspects, will participate in the disaster management exercise here.
“The exercise will have simulated scenarios in the areas of flood management and building collapse search and rescue, including Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) and an After Action Review (AAR),” it stated.
“Hosting of the exercise is in keeping with India’s commitment to share its expertise and capabilities in disaster management with the region.”