A two-day (1st -2nd November,2022) National Conference on ‘Landslide Risk Assessment and Mitigation in India’ began today at the Jamia Millia Islamia(JMI). The conference is being organised by the Department of Geography, JMI.
Prof. Najma Akhtar, Vice Chancellor, JMI was the Chief Guest of the inaugural function, held today at the FTK-CIT Hall of the university. Inaugural function was smoothly anchored by Prof. Lubna Siddiqui, Organizing Secretary of the Conference.
Prof. Haroon Sajjad, Head, Department of Geography, JMI, warmly welcomed all the distinguished guests, officials, delegates, faculty members and researchers from different academic and research institutions across India, including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), University of Delhi, Aligarh Muslim University, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, University of Kashmir, Kumaun University, National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), New Delhi, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), etc. Prof. Masood Ahsan Siddiqui, Convener of the Conference, briefly highlighted the motivation, themes, and potential issues to be taken up as part of the two-day conference.
In her address JMI Vice Chancellor Prof. Najma Akhtar called for greater proactive partnership between academic institutions and programme/policy implementing agencies working directly in the fields related to disaster management and sustainable development for social relevance and nation-building. In particular, Prof. Akhtar underscored the fragility of the mountain ecosystem and the occurrence of landslides with increasing frequency and magnitude, with environmental and socioeconomic implications, and the need for intensive research and survey. She also stressed the role of Dr Zakir Hussain (former President of India, a great educationist and founding member of JMI) and Mahatma Gandhi in the genesis of Jamia Millia Islamia. Prof. Akhtar highlighted JMI’s journey as it recently celebrated its 102 nd Foundation Day on October 29th 2022 and shared the unique endeavour of JMI for the ‘relentless pursuit of excellence’ as the mantra for higher academic and research outcomes for greater societal benefit and nation-building.
Shri Kamal Kishore, Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, delivered the Keynote Address of the National Conference at the inaugural function. Shri Kishore stressed that landslides are essentially localized events and are challenging to deal with. About 12% of the geographical area in India is prone to landslides, equivalent to the size of Norway. During the last two decades, progress on the loss of human life and property has been sluggish as compared to other disasters such as cyclones and heat waves. Shri Kishore underscored the following five key points for deliberation during the conference:
1) Making better use of landslide mapping for decisive action related to landslide mitigation and rehabilitation.
2) Early warning systems for landslide risk mitigation (a multidisciplinary issue) require a multidisciplinary approach to appropriate disaster management.
3) Mitigation of landslides across major highways and infrastructure development corridors is difficult to fix or mitigate. Academic and research institutions need to identify prominent landslides and work as field observatories over a five-year period. This may provide unique insights for landslide risk reduction and mitigation.
4) Make use of community knowledge for monitoring landslide susceptibility and risk reduction.
5) Landslide mitigation has financial implications, and therefore, areas prone to landslides need dedicated financial support and training for its management.
Prof. Simi Farhat Basheer, Dean, Faculty of Natural Science, JMI was the Distinguished Guest of the function. She appreciated the contribution of the Department of Geography, JMI
The Guest of Honour was Shri. Taj Hassan, IPS (1987 Batch), Executive Director, National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India spoke about various workshops that are being conducted by different academic and administrative organizations in collaboration with NIDM for capacity building related to disaster management. He also highlighted the financial implications of landslides and shared his rich experience of disaster mitigation in Arunachal Pradesh. He further called upon all the scientific community working on disaster risk reduction to come up with a two-page brief and precise standard operating procedures (SOP)/action points for programme implementation/administrative agencies (district/sub- district/urban bodies/gram panchayat) that are dealing with disaster management on the ground. He also highlighted the role of NIDM in DRR and nation-building.
Prof. Nazim Husain Al-Jafri, Registrar, JMI welcomed all the guests and delegates and conveyed his best wishes for a productive and fruitful scientific deliberation during the two-day conference. Prof. Mary Tahir, Department of Geography, JMI, proposed the formal vote of thanks to all the distinguished guests, university officials, delegates, faculty members, and scholars for making the inaugural function a grand success.