Note:- After Action Review (AAR) of 2nd BIMSTEC DMEx 2020 is going on...


Disaster Risk to Culture heritage in BIMSTEC countries

Each year disasters caused by natural and human induced hazards cause enormous damage to historic buildings, urban areas, museums, libraries and archives, depriving communities of their irreplaceable cultural assets. The impact of disasters on cultural heritage over the past few years in BIMSTEC countries has been particularly severe and indicated below in chronological order:

• The Bhuj City Palace, the commemorative chatris (cenotaphs), in Gujarat India suffered extensive damage due to the earthquake in 2001.
• The archaeological, cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka was significantly damaged by the 2004 Tsunami. The Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the island’s southwest coast, suffered damage from the Tsunami.
• Buddhist monasteries and temples were destroyed in Sikkim Earthquake 2011.
• Heavy rain in Thailand caused the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya to remain submerged in water, thereby causing insurmountable loss to the foundations of historic structures in Oct, 2011.
• At Uttarakhand, India flash floods due to unprecedented heavy rains destroyed many heritage structures in the region in 2013.
• During the Kathmandu valley earthquake in 2015, more than 750 cultural heritage sites were affected. Of these, structures in 133 sites completely collapsed, 95 partially collapsed and 522 were partially affected. Within Nepal’s World Heritage Sites, 140 monuments were affected. Of these, 33 suffered severe damage and the rest were partially damaged
• At Bagan, Myanmar, the cultural landscape of over three thousand monuments situated along the Ayeyarwaddy River, was damaged severely due to earthquakes in 2016.

Considering the impact of various hazards on Cultural Heritage sites, a comprehensive disaster risk management plan needs to be formulated for all cultural heritage sites, taking into consideration multiple hazards to which they are exposed. Disaster risk management practices need to be well integrated in the management of cultural heritage sites. This will also help protect the lives and livelihoods of the local communities living in and around cultural heritage sites.

Protection of cultural heritage sites from various natural hazards requires a comprehensive approach that comprises actions before, during and after a disaster. In the aftermath of a disaster, emergency responders have an important role in the affected cultural heritage sites. Emergency responders that have been sensitized to the specific context of cultural heritage site would ensure that:-

1) Debris clearance in cultural heritage sites is conducted in way that is safe for all concerned – visitors, staff and emergency responders;
2) Further damage to the cultural heritage is minimized during the response;
3) The objects retrieved from the site are systematically documented and protected in order to create conditions for recovery and reduction of future risk.

The 2nd BIMSTEC DMEx will focus on emergency response in cultural heritage sites. Through two disaster scenarios

Design and Developed By: IT Team NDRF HQ, New Delhi.