Come together to fight natural disasters: CDS Rawat to BIMSTEC nations

New Delhi: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday called for the BIMSTEC nations to come together to fight natural disasters, including pandemics like Covid-19, and also stressed on the need to join hands to fight possible future biological warfare.

Speaking at a curtain raiser event ahead of Panex-21, a multi-nation disaster management exercise involving the BIMSTEC nations, Army Chief General MM Naravane also stressed on being prepared, stating that the Covid-19 pandemic was not yet over.

“We are already facing a pandemic like Covid-19 and such disasters will continue to happen in future. It is important for us to put our heads and minds together, so we are able to respond in a rapid manner,” General Rawat said.

“Another issue I would like to highlight is that this is also becoming a new kind of warfare… If biological warfare is somehow starting to take shape, we have to work together as BIMSTEC nations,” he added.

The CDS also highlighted the importance of drawing Common Legal Frameworks and setting up Information Sharing Mechanism to facilitate defence cooperation between security and judicial agencies of the member nations.

Army Chief General Naravane urged the participating countries to use the opportunity provided by the exercise to develop mechanisms for close transnational coordination to combat contingencies like the pandemic in the future.

“Emergence of new variants and resurgence of cases suggest that the pandemic of Covid-19 is far from over,” the Army Chief said.

Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, meanwhile, drew attention of the participants to the significance attached by India to the BIMSTEC, as part of our “Neighbourhood First” policy.

“The success of the last two BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercises (DMEx-2017 at Delhi and DMEx-2020 at Puri) speak of the close coordination mechanism that the BIMSTEC nations share,” he said.

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise, PANEX-21, will see the participation of BIMSTEC nations.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal. The Member nations are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

The exercise will witness holding of a Seminar, Table Top Exercises and Multi Agency Exercise between December 20 to 22 at Pune. The culmination of the event will be with the capability demonstration by Indian Industries, in association with FICCI to showcase their capabilities, innovations and range of products available to assist government agencies in planning, preparation and conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations. (UNI)

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