Kolkata rocks to concert on disaster preparedness
"Today's preparedness is tomorrow's security"
On 13 February 2009 Kolkata played host to a free concert on disaster preparedness as the popular local band 'Bhoomi' (Earth) performed at the Nazrul Manch stadium on behalf of the BBC World Service Trust. Fellow Bengali stars actors Koel Mullick and Proshenjit, and popular footballer Baichung Bhutia also took to the stage.
Natural disasters are endemic to West Bengal; excessive rainfall and flooding is frequent. Since 1985 there have been 23 major floods in the state.
Each time a river overflows its banks, an embankment is breached or excess water is released from a dam, people's lives and homes, cattle and crops are lost. Recovery and rehabilitation is a slow and painful process.
Climate change and rising sea levels are also threatening the legendary Sunderbans delta, which faces submergence.
Its unique ecosystem of mangrove forests, and wildlife including the Royal Bengal tiger are threatened with extinction. People living on the islands of the Sunderbans are also at risk of becoming "climate refugees".
Kolkata city suffers water-logging during the rains, with its streets flooded for days at a stretch. The concert draws official attention to the urgent need to renovate the city's dilapidated drainage system.
For the general public, the message is to "do your bit" through actions such as not using plastic bags that can clog the drains.
The message for the government and the people is: prepare for disasters, plan ahead to reduce disaster risks, provide swift rescue and relief, mitigate damage and ensure rehabilitation.
The concert marked the culmination of a project run by the BBC World Service Trust in Orissa and West Bengal, with the aim of strengthening a culture of disaster preparedness. It brings together the media, NGOs and the government in these two states.
This project has been funded by the European Commission's Directorate General of Humanitarian Aid (DIPECHO).