Welcome remarks by Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director General, IDSA at the Cabinet Secretary’s talk on “Rescue Operations in Uttarakhand’, 19th July 2013
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  • Dear Friends,

    The Uttarakhand tragedy has been one of the most poignant episodes in India’s recent history. Over 11,600 people are missing. 4200 villages in 13 districts were affected. The disaster spread over an area of 500 sq Km.

    Although the loss of life has been stupendous, it is a matter of some satisfaction that nearly 1,10,000 people were rescued in a rescue operation which was one of the largest ever launched in the world, if not the largest itself. The UN Secretary General appreciated the swift response by Indian disaster management authorities.

    The rescue operation was a well coordinated operation involving NDRF, the Army, the Air Force, the ITBP, State government authorities, private operators, NGOs etc.

    Apart from rescuing the stranded persons, the damaged rural water supply systems, telecommunication facilities restored and damaged roads were restored.

    Unfortunately, 20 personnel belonging to different agencies who were involved in rescue operations sacrificed their lives.

    As the rescue operations give way to rehabilitation and reconstruction, the disaster has brought to focus the issue of over-development, religious tourism and its impact on the fragile Himalayan environment and the ecosystem. The construction of dams in the Himalayas is also being debated. The impact of climate change and its impact on ecology needs to be studied.

    Shri Ajit Kumar Seth, in his capacity as the Cabinet Secretary, supervised the massive rescue efforts. We are grateful to him for having found time from his busy schedule to come to the IDSA and share with us his experience and insights into the successful rescue operations which resulted in the rescue of more 100000 persons.

    Shri Ajit Seth joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1974 and belongs to the UP Cadre. He knows the area well having served as Divisional Commissioner, Kumaon in the eighties.

    Shri Seth has served in several important capacities in the government of India as well as in the State. He has held appointments in the Ministry of Commerce, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva and the Ministry of Textiles.

    He was Secretary Coordination, Government of India.

    Shri Seth was appointed Cabinet Secretary in June, 2011.

    I would like to extend heartiest welcome to Shri Seth and request him to kindly address the audience.