Need stressed to spread awareness among coastline communities about Tsunami

KARACHI: Sindh government’s Senior Minister for Finance Murad Ali Shah Syed has said that despite it was widely believed that Karachi could be protected from any natural disaster like Tsunami because of the Shrine of Syed Abdullah Shah Gazi is along the coastal areas of Pakistan, the issue still demands serious consideration at government level to safeguard country’s coastal areas for minimizing the economic and human loss if any natural disaster occurs.

He was speaking as a Chief Guest at an International Conference entitled Steps Towards Tsunami Resilience organized by NED University of Engineering and Technology’s (NEDUET) Department of Civil Engineering in collaboration with OXFAM and UNESCO held at a local hotel on Saturday’s evening.

The program was aimed at to commemorate the 70-year old devastation of Makran, the coastal area of Pakistan. In which, at least 4000 people were died due to the Tsunami that caused economic loss for living inhabitants for many years.

The eyewitnesses of the Makran’s Tsunami were also invited at the event to share their horrible experiences with audience, while the speakers who put light on the Tsunami were include, OXFAM’s Country Director Arif Jabbar Khan, UNESCO’s Country Director Ms Vibake Jensen, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO’s Head of Secretariat Tony Elliot, DRR Consultant and Architect Pakistan’s Ms Ghazala Naeem.

Murad Shah showed concern over absence of senior officials of City’s administration in the program. Those who were invited but could not attend the event. He said this shows the officials’ non-seriousness towards such informative programs about the Tsunami.

Minister said there is dire need to strengthen the mechanism of early warning system to avoid any untoward incident like Tsunami so all stockholders should have to work together in this regard including NGOs, government and academia for betterment of Pakistan and its people. He said the China-Corridor is also functional in Gwadar that could be affected if we ignore the threat of Tsunami anymore.

Ms Vibake Jensen termed Tsunami as a threat that directly affects on economy of the country and human loss especially it is more for Asian countries that are neighbouring to Indian Ocean including Pakistan, Iran and India. The global warming has directly linked with natural disasters occurs in the world so the US government is committed to work on it and had called a meeting few months back in New York on Global Warming issues. She said we should understand that the harmful effects of any disaster related to water or earthquake is on country’s economic and human but we still unprepared for such disasters.

Arif Jabbar Khan said that the earthquake in northern Pakistan in 2005 and 2015 and in Awaran in 2013 have shown our vulnerability to earthquakes. “We have seen how decades of development investment can be wiped out by a single disaster so it is therefore imperative for us to prepare such incidents at every level”. He said the communication gap between coastal community and institutions for early warnings system still requires full considerations at government level.

Toney Elliot said that before the 2004, the Tsunami risk was considered very low but it hits 14 countries including Indonesia, Siri Lanka, India, and Thailand. It was the incident that claimed 230,000 lives. Since, 26 December 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation system (IOTWMS) was formed in order to release early warnings about Tsunami to 28 countries neighbouring to Indian Ocean. Tsunami seismic service providers are India, Indonesia and Australia to these countries. The accelerating awareness among coastline community and its response is most important that could minimize the human loss as well as economic.

Ms Ghazala Naeem informed that Pakistan has 1100 Km coastline in six districts including Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara, Karachi and Badin. She said it would be difficult target to spread awareness among coastline community as they are deprived of basic facilities such as light, limited communication tools and limited national sources. She said schoolchildren should be educated about Tsunami and its consequences. The buildings should be constructed as per the safety measures instructions for coastline areas. She said when tsunami comes, it gives natural indications first as the sea behaves unusual sometimes it comes too forwards or too backwards.

The program was attended by large number of students, NEDUET’s VC, and faculty members, and people from different walks of life.