Bhubaneswar: The Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, stressed on preservation of heritage sites from the vagaries of natural calamities. He said, there is a need to improve early warning dissemination system and capacity building for conservation of cultural heritage sites.

“Our heritage sites must be preserved for future generation at any cost. Because they not only represent our cultural identity but also they are the driving force of our economy. It is important to undertake important documentation, proper identification and grading of heritage sites”, the chief minister said.

Patnaik was speaking after inaugurating the 2nd edition of the BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise organised by the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF), here on Tuesday. The theme of the three-day Exercise is: A cultural heritage site that suffers severe damange in earthquake, flood or storm. Representatives from five countries namely Bangaladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Myanmar are participating in this exercise.

Stating that Odisha is prone to natural disasters like cyclone and flood, the chief minister said since 1891, the State has hit by as many as 100 cyclones. The Super Cyclone of 1999 was a watershed moment that changed the course of disaster management preparedness, he said asserting that today Odisha is well ahead of others in preparedness.

Patnaik said Odisha is the first State that set up its own dedicated disaster response force in India. “We invested a lot in preparedness, forecasting and resource management with an approach of zero-causality”, he said adding, ” The UN and the international media have hailed our efforts in keeping the level of destruction to a minimum. ”

The Odisha chief secretary, Asit Tripathy, DG,NDRF, Satya Narayan Pradhan and member secretary NDMA GVV Sharma also spoke on the occasion.