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Defence Minister witnesses BIMSTEC nations’ military HADR exercise in Pune

Source : United News of India (UNI)

Defence Minister witnesses BIMSTEC nations’ military HADR exercise in Pune
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inspecting some arms in the Weapons Display at BIMSTEC nations equipment display on the 2nd day of PANEX-21

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday witnessed a Multi-Agency Exercise and inaugurated an equipment display on the second day of PANEX-21, a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise of the BIMSTEC nations.

The exercise is being organised at College of Military Engineering in Pune, Maharashtra. Singh witnessed demonstration of the capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces to launch swift, coordinated and incremental relief efforts in case of occurrence of any natural calamity in a particular region. The exercise saw a coordinated display of rescue and relief efforts by Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

In simulated disaster conditions, the synergised application of resources of the Armed Forces and other premiere disaster relief agencies of the country resulted in rescue of the stranded people as well as early restoration of essential services and opening of all lines of communications.

The equipment display, organised in association with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), is aimed to showcase the niche industrial capabilities and capacities of the Indian industry on disaster relief operations.

In his address, Singh termed the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) as one of the most important and closely-knit group of countries which has the potential to build a symbiotic partnership amongst like-minded nations by strengthening existing civilisational bonds.

Lauding the member nations for standing by each other during natural calamities, he said, the PANEX-21 provides a fresh impetus for creating a more cohesive mechanism to respond to the HADR challenges in the region.

The Defence Minister exuded confidence that the exercise will facilitate improved coordination for meeting future challenges related to cyclones & earthquakes and threats like COVID-19.

“Efforts by a nation directly affected by natural disaster, may quite understandably fall short due to the huge magnitude of such disasters. Thus, a multilateral effort, involving partners in Bay of Bengal region, will act as a force multiplier in pooling-in resources and orchestrating relief measures. It will accelerate the process of providing relief to people who are already distressed due to the natural disaster,” he said.

Singh reiterated India’s vision for the Indian Ocean region (IOR), which is based on the concept of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Minister praised the Indian Armed Forces and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) for incorporating HADR operations as one of the foremost elements in their vision and for being the first responder in IOR.

He made special mention of the pivotal role played by the defence forces and ICGin the fight against COVID-19. This commitment is reflected equally in the performance of the Armed Forces of each of the partner countries in the Bay of Bengal region, he added.

On the COVID-19 pandemic front, Singh said such calamities demand very specific resources which need to be moved to areas facing an emergency in a short span of time. He emphasised on the need for seamless information sharing mechanism at the regional level, and establishment of protocols for moving responders&material and creating requisite capacities on the basis of country specific needs.

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command Lieutenant General JS Nain and senior civil & military officials of Ministry of Defence were present on the occasion. The PANEX-21 is being held between December 20-22, 2021.

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