A curtain raiser event for the multinational exercise was held in New Delhi on Tuesday

India will host humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise PANEX-21 for BIMSTEC countries from December 20 to 22.

The event, to be held in Pune, will witness participation from subject experts and delegates from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

A curtain raiser event for the multinational exercise PANEX-21 to be conducted by the Indian Army was held in New Delhi on Tuesday, said a Ministry of Defence statement.

The curtain raiser event was presided over by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt in the presence of distinguished civilian and military guests that included Secretary General BIMSTEC Tenzin Lekphell, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane.

In his opening address, Army Chief Gen Naravane welcomed all the delegates of the member states to the event and urged them to utilize this opportunity to develop mechanisms for close transnational coordination to combat contingencies like the Pandemic in the future.

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, in his talk on ‘Defence Cooperation among BIMSTEC Nations’, 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.

MoS Defence Ajay Bhatt drew attention of the participants to the significance attached by India to the BIMSTEC, as part of the ‘Neighborhood First’ policy.

He said that 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.

The MoS mentioned that managing Natural Disasters in the backdrop of a viral pandemic creates complex risks which cannot be combated by any single agency, but needs a whole of the Nation approach.

He highlighted the swift and coordinated rescue and relief operation which were launched in India despite rising number of COVID cases and ongoing National lockdown.

Concerted efforts were made by all agencies and organisations involved in providing relief to the affected population and every national resource was employed to save precious lives and minimize losses of livestock, property and infrastructure, the Minister of State said.

He also laid emphasis on joint strategy and cooperation in overcoming the pandemic situations such like COVID.

Bhat urged the Nation states to evolve a comprehensive BIMSTEC structure for capability development and training and to have a regional pool of Disaster Management experts aided by institutional organisations, mechanism, protocols and legal frameworks for mobilizing resources for joint responses for disasters.

A poster commemorating the forthcoming Exercise was also unveiled by MoS Bhatt during the event.

The exercise will witness conduct of a Seminar, Table Top Exercises & Multi Agency Exercise.

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.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Integrated Staff (CISC) Air Marshal BR Krishna and the High Commissioners and Ambassadors of the BIMSTEC nations were also present on the occasion.
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