Over 100 scientists from India and abroad began Friday a two-day brainstorming session here to discuss ways and means to protect countries from a future tsunami threat to the region.
Inaugurating the conference, Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development Kabil Sibal said: "The scientific community must address critical issues thrown up by the Dec 26 tsunami. There is no doubt that we need to have a tsunami early warning system. We are looking at several models for this purpose."
Over 150,000 people have lost their lives to the terrifying tsunami that hit a dozen countries from Asia to Africa.
Sibal stressed on people-centric approach in preparing the country to deal better with natural disasters. "The heart of the discussion is not the warning system; it is the people who are at its centre," the minister said.
Organised by the department of science and technology in association with the department of science development and Indian National Science Academy (INSA, the brainstorming session will see some of top tsunami experts like Kenji Satake of Japan and Indo-Canadian expert Tad Murty sharing their extensive knowledge of tsunamis.
Sibal also emphasised on evolving systems of dissemination of information in case of a natural disaster. "When a natural calamity strikes, the first thing that happens is the breakdown of electricity and communication. We must develop more sophisticated communication systems that can reach people in areas victimised by disasters," Sibal added.
"While the ways of nature are mysterious, we must prepare ourselves for mitigating human misery spawned by natural calamities. We can't wait for disaster to strike; we need to have systems in place to handle natural disasters," added Sibal.
Rainer Kind of Germany, E Kulikov from Russia and S R Shetye, president of National Institute of Oceanography, are just some of the marquee names in science and disaster management who will be participating in this tsunami of ideas.
The findings of the brainstorming session will be presented to the public on Jan 24.
R A Mashelkar, president of INSA, stressed on integrated rehabilitation of the victims of the Dec 26 tsunami disaster.
V S Ramamurthy, secretary, department of science and technology, outlined an agenda for action for better tsunami preparedness. The action plan includes strengthening earthquake monitoring network and putting in place ocean-based tsunami detection system. A concerted public awareness campaign and sharing of international experience in disaster management will also figure as key features of the disaster mitigation plan.