Natural Hazards, Disasters and their Management
8.3.3. TROPICAL CYCLONE
The Indian subcontinent is one of the worst affected regions in the world. The subcontinent with a long coastline of 8041 kilometres is exposed to nearly 10 per cent of the world’s tropical cyclones. Of these, the majority of them have their initial genesis over the Bay of Bengal and strike the East coast of India. On an average, five to six tropical cyclones form every year, of which two or three could be severe. More cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal than the Arabian Sea and the ratio is approximately 4:1. Cyclones occur frequently on both the coasts (the West coast - Arabian Sea; and the East coast - Bay of Bengal). An analysis of the frequency of cyclones on the East and West coasts of India between 1891 and 1990 shows that nearly 262 cyclones occurred (92 of these severe) in a 50 km wide strip above the East coast. Less severe cyclonic activity has been noticed on the West coast, where 33 cyclones occurred the same period, out of which 19 of were severe.
Tropical cyclones occur in the months of May-June and October-November. Cyclones of severe intensity and frequency in the North Indian Ocean are bi-modal in character, with their primary peak in November and secondary peak in May. The disaster potential is particularly high during landfall in the North Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) due to the accompanying destructive wind, storm surges and torrential rainfall. Of these, storm surges cause the most damage as sea water inundates low lying areas of coastal regions and causes heavy floods, erodes beaches and embankments, destroys vegetation and reduces soil fertility.
Cyclones vary in diameter from 50 to 320 km but their effects dominate thousands of square kilometers of ocean surface and the lower atmosphere. The perimeter may measure 1,000 km but the powerhouse is located within the 100-km radius. Nearer the Eye, winds may hit at a speed of 320 km. Thus, tropical cyclones, characterized by destructive winds, torrential rainfall and storm surges disrupt normal life with the accompanying phenomena of floods due to the exceptional level of rainfall and storm surge inundation into inland areas. Cyclones are characterized by their devastating potential to damage structures, viz. houses; lifeline infrastructure-power and communication towers; hospitals; food storage facilities; roads, bridges and culverts; crops etc. The most fatalities come from storm surges and the torrential rain flooding the lowland areas of coastal territories.
Consequences of Tropical Cyclones
The cyclones cause great damage throughout the entire path of its passage. The strong cyclonic winds that precede and follow the cyclone blow away houses ranging from small huts to concrete structures and houses made of steel and stones. Trees, electric poles are uprooted and smashed. The heavy and torrential rains then cause the floods which play further havoc all around. The wind’s passing over ocean or sea give rise to mighty waves called ‘storm surges’ they strike the coastal areas like a huge wall of water and cause damage up to 10-15 km away from the coast towards the land. It then plays havoc with roads, fields, houses, factories, electric poles and human settlements on the coasts. The landslides prompted by cyclonic conditions become more dangerous and destructive.
Some dos and don’ts before, during and after the cyclone
Listen to the radio for advance information and advice
Keep considerable margin of time for safety.
A cyclone may change direction, speed, or intensity within a few hours, so stay tuned to the radio for updated information.
When the storm strikes.
o Stay in the house and take shelter in the stronger portion of your house.
o Listen to the radio and follow instructions.
o Open windows of the safe portion of the house if the roof begins to lift.
o Find shelter if you are in open at the hitting time of the cyclone.
o Do not go out of your house or to a beach during or lay down along an elevated footpath in open field the storm. Cyclone often generates large surges in these oceans or lakes.
With the arrival of Monsoon, people living in 40 million hectares area of the country become extremely nervous. No one knows when there will be a flood in the river and their hard earned belongings will be washed away. In comparison to other disasters flood cause more damage to life and property. Twenty percent of deaths caused by floods in the World occur in India.
The inundation of an area by water is called a flood. Inundation of land and human settlements by the rise of water in the channels and its spill-over presents the condition of flooding. Unlike other natural disasters, the causes of floods are well established. Floods are relatively slow in occurrences and often, occur in well-identified regions and within expected time in a year.
Though floods occur frequently over wide geographical area having disasterous ramifications in many parts of the world, floods in the South, Southeast and East Asian countries, particularly in China, India and Bangladesh, are frequent and equally disastrous. In India, around 40 million hectare area is flood-prone, which is one eighth of the total area (figure 3). The most flood prone areas are the Brahmputra, Ganga and Indus basins. As far as states are concerned, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa are the most flood affected states followed by Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. Nowadays Rajasthan and Gujarat also feel the fury of floods. Karnataka and Maharashtra are no longer immune to floods.
Types of flooding
According to Duration
o Slow-Onset Flooding
o Rapid-Onset Flooding
o Flash Flooding
According to Location
o Coastal Flooding
o Arroyos Flooding
o River Flooding
o Urban Flooding
Unlike other natural disasters, human beings play an important role in the genesis as well as spread of floods. Indiscriminate deforestation, unscientific agricultural practices, disturbances along the natural drainage channels and colonisation of flood-plains and river-beds are some of the human activities that play an important role in increasing the intensity, magnitude and gravity of floods. The causes of flood are as follows:
Heavy rainfall: Heavy rain in the catchment area of a river causes water to over flow its banks, which results in the flooding of nearby areas.
Sediment deposition: River beds become shallow due to sedimentation. The water carrying capacity of such river is reduced. As a result the heavy rainwater over flow the river banks.
Cyclone: Cyclone generated seawaves of abnormal height spreads the water in the adjoining coastal areas. In October 1994 Orissa cyclone generated severe floods and caused unprecedented loss of life and property.
Change in the course of the river: Meanders and change in the course of the river cause floods.
Tsunami: Large coastal areas are flooded by rising sea water, when a tsunami strikes the coast.
Lack of Lakes - Lakes can store the excess water and regulate the flow of water. When lakes become smaller, their ability to regulate the flow become less and hence flooding.
Deforestation: Vegetation hampers the flow of water and forces it to percolate in the ground. As a result of deforestation, the land becomes obstruction free and water flows with greater speed into the rivers and causes flood.
Interference in drainage system: Drainage congestion caused by badly planned construction of bridges, roads, railway tracks, canals etc. hampers the flow of water and the result is flood. The areas which were essentially created by the storm water drains to let their flood waters pass freely being tress-passed for developmental purposes result in obstruction of water flow and thus contributed immensely to the fury of floods.
International dimension - The rivers originating in China, Nepal and Bhutan cause severe floods in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. For flood management (FM), cooperation with the neighbouring countries viz. China, Nepal and Bhutan is essential
Population pressure - Because of large amount of people, more materials are needed, like wood, land, food, etc. This aggravates overgrazing, over cultivation and soil erosion which increases the risk of flooding.
Poor Water and Sewerage Management - Old drainage and sewerage system has not been overhauled nor is it adequate now .All the drainage and sewer system in many parts of Delhi has collapsed resulting in flooding. This can be seen during rainy seasons every year.
Lack of attention to the nature of hydrological system
Lack of flood control measures
Multiple authorities in a city but owning responsibility by none
What are Flash Floods?
Flash floods are short-term events, occurring within 6 hours of the causative event (heavy rain, dam break, levee failure, rapid, snowmelt and ice jams) and often within 2 hours of the start of high intensity rainfall. A flash flood is characterized by a rapid stream rise with depths of water that can reach well above the banks of the creek. Flash flood damage and most fatalities tend to occur in areas immediately adjacent to a stream or arroyo. Additionally, heavy rain falling on steep terrain can weaken soil and cause mud slides, damaging homes, roads and property.
In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered on Uttarakhand caused devastating flash floods and landslides in the country's worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami.
Consequence and Control of Floods
Frequent inundation of agricultural land and human settlement has serious consequences on the national economy and society.
Floods do not only destroy valuable crops every year but these also damage physical infrastructure such as roads, rails, bridges and human settlements.
Millions of people are rendered homeless and are also washed down along with their cattle in the floods.
Spread of diseases like cholera, gastro-enteritis, hepatitis and other water-borne diseases spread in the flood-affected areas.
Floods also make a few positive contributions. Every year, floods deposit fertile silt over agricultural fields which is good for the crops.
Flood control measures
Reservoirs: By constructing reservoirs in the courses of rivers could stores extra water at the time of flood. Such measures adopted till now however, have not been successful. Dams built to control floods of Damodar could not control the flood.
Embankments: By building flood protection embankments, floods water can be controlled from overflowing the banks and spreading in nearby areas. Building of embankments on Yamuna, near Delhi, has been successful in controlling the flood.
Afforestation: The furry of flood could be minimized by planting trees in catchment areas of rivers.
Restoration of original drainage system: Drainage system is generally choked by the construction of roads, canals railway tracks etc. Floods could be checked if the original form of drainage system is restored.
Dos and don’ts before, during and after the flood
Avoid building in flood prone areas unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
Listen to the radio for advance information Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions
Disconnect all electrical appliances, move all valuable household goods out of reach of flood water.
Switch off electricity and gas, in case you have to leave the house.
Lock all door and windows if you have to leave the house.
Do not enter flood water on foot or in a vehicle as far as possible.
8.3.5. URBAN FLOODS
Urban flooding is significantly different from rural flooding as urbanization leads to developed catchments, which increases the flood peaks from 1.8 to 8 times and flood volumes by up to 6 times. Consequently, flooding occurs very quickly due to faster flow times (in a matter of minutes). Urban areas are densely populated and people living in vulnerable areas suffer due to flooding, sometimes resulting in loss of life. It is not only the event of flooding but the secondary effect of exposure to infection also has its toll in terms of human suffering, loss of livelihood and, in extreme cases, loss of life.
The un-even distribution of rain fall coupled with Mindless urbanisation, encroaching upon and filling up natural drainage channels and urban lakes to use the high-value urban land for buildings are the cause of urban flooding. The illegal filling of urban water bodies in cities like Calcutta, Delhi, and Hyderabad etc is a rampant. The urban area is paved with roads etc and the discharge of heavy rain can’t be absorbed into the ground due to drainage constraints leads to flooding of streets, underpasses, low lying areas and storm drains. The recent floods in Chennai also serves as a reminder of the unwanted effects of unplanned urbanization
Urban areas are also centres of economic activities with vital infrastructure which needs to be protected 24x7. In most of the cities, damage to vital infrastructure has a bearing not only for the state and the country but it could even have global implications. Major cities in India have witnessed loss of life and property, disruption in transport and power and incidence of epidemics. Most city areas around rivers are flooded during monsoon period. Mumbai floods in 2006 caused havoc in the whole city. Therefore, management of urban flooding has to be accorded top priority.
Increasing trend of urban flooding is a universal phenomenon and poses a great challenge to urban planners the world over. Problems associated with urban floods range from relatively localized incidents to major incidents, resulting in cities being inundated from hours to several days. Therefore, the impact can also be widespread, including temporary relocation of people, damage to civic amenities, deterioration of water quality and risk of epidemics.
Dos and don’ts before, during and after the flood
Do not litter waste, plastic bags, plastic bottles in drains
Try to be at home if high tide and heavy rains occur simultaneously
Listen to weather forecast.
Evacuate low line areas and shift to safer places.
Make sure that each person has lantern, torch, some edibles, drinking water, dry clothes and necessary documents while evacuating or shifting.
In the Flood Situation
Shift to a safer place.
Be at safe place and they try to collect correct information.
Switch of electrical supply and don’t touch open wires.
Don’t get carried away by rumors and don not spread rumors.
Don't walk through flowing water - currents can be deceptive, and shallow, fast moving water can knock you off your feet.
Don't swim through fast flowing water.
Don't drive through a flooded area.
Don't eat any food that has come into contact with flood water.
Don't scrub or brush mud and other deposits from materials.
Never turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet.
Don't remove standing water in a basement too fast. If the pressure is relieved too quickly it may put undue stress on the walls.
A cloudburst is a sudden downpour within a radius of few kilometres. It usually lasts no longer than few minutes but is capable of flooding the area. Rainfall from a cloudburst is usually over 100 mm per hour. This leads to flash floods/ landslides, house collapse, dislocation of traffic and human casualties on large scale.
Cause: The Cumulonimbus is a tall cloud that contains very high, unpredictable winds. Such clouds are associated with thunderstorms. Typically these are the clouds that are usually responsible for Cloudbursts. Most Cloudbursts occur in association with thunderstorms. In such type of storms there are strong uprushes of air. These updrafts are filled with turbulent wind pockets that shove the small raindrops around leading to collisions between raindrops. The collisions lead to conglomerations and large-sized drops are formed. The forceful upward rush of air also prevents the condensing raindrops from falling downwards. So instead of falling down to Earth the water droplets are pushed upwards till a large amount of water accumulates at a high level. Eventually all updrafts become weak and collapse. With nothing to push it up, the entire water falls down almost all at once.
Hilly areas are more prone to cloud burst. The topographical conditions like steep hills favour the formation of these clouds. And also the devastations, as water flowing down the steep slopes bring debris, boulders and uprooted trees with great velocity damaging any structure that comes in their way.
In one of India's worst cloudbursts on 26 July 2005, Mumbai was completely paralysed. Approximately 950 mm of rainfall was recorded in India's financial capital over a span of eight to ten hours. Leh recorded over 12 mm of rainfall in just few minutes on August 6, 2010 cloudburst, that at least 1000 dead, and hundreds injured.
There is no satisfactory technique for anticipating the occurrence of cloud bursts because of their small scale. A very fine network of radars is required to be able to detect the likelihood of a cloud burst and this would be prohibitively expensive. Only the areas likely to receive heavy rainfall can be identified on a short range scale. Much of the damage can be avoided by way of identifying the areas and the meteorological situations that favour the occurrence of cloud bursts.
The term ‘drought’ is applied to an extended period when there is a shortage of water availability due to inadequate precipitation, excessive rate of evaporation and over-utilisation of water from the reservoirs and other storages, including the ground water.
This is different type of agony but painful. To see domestic animals to die of hunger and thirst before one’s own eyes; to send beloved members of the family in search of employment to far off places in extremely uncertain and exploitative conditions, reduction in diet to reduce the already meager diet, to wander in search of work all day long in relief works and return rejected and empty-handed in the night, these are some of the heart rending scenes from the drought affected areas of India.
Drought is a complex phenomenon as it involves elements like
precipitation, evaporation, evapotranspiration
ground water, soil moisture, storage and surface run-off
agricultural practices, particularly the types of crops grown
Socio-economic practices and ecological conditions.
When there is a prolonged period of inadequate rainfall marked with mal-distribution of the same over time and space.
Rainfall less than 90 per cent of average is categorized as meteorological drought.
It is characterised by low soil moisture that is necessary to support the crops, thereby resulting in crop failures
If an area has more than 30 per cent of its gross cropped area under irrigation, the area is excluded from the drought-prone category.
An extreme agricultural drought can lead to a famine, which is a prolonged shortage of food in a restricted region causing widespread disease and death from starvation. This is why some times in Hindi language famine Akal and Anavrishty are also used for drought.
The government also declares on area affected by drought, if more than 50 percent crop loss happens in an area due to meteorological condition.
When the availability of water in different storages and reservoirs like aquifers, lakes, reservoirs, etc. falls below what the precipitation can replenish
When the productivity of a natural ecosystem fails due to shortage of water and as a consequence of ecological distress, damages are induced in the ecosystem.
Table 4 – different types of droughts
The following criteria have been set by the Indian Meteorological Division (IMD) for identifying the drought.
Onset of drought: Deficiency of a particular year’s rainfall exceeding 25 per cent of normal.
Moderate drought: Deficit of rainfall between 26-50 per cent of normal.
Severe drought: Deficit of rainfall more than 50 per cent of normal.
Impact of drought
Droughts cause scarcity of food and water.
People die of hunger, malnutrition and epidemics.
People are forced to migrate from their area of residence.
Crops fail due to scarcity of water.
Cattle die because fodder and water are not easily available.
Farmers are deprived of their employment.
People leave their villages with their families for a long, unknown and uncertain journey in the pursuit of food, water, green fodder and employment.
Drought Prone Areas in India
Droughts and floods are the two accompanying features of Indian climate. According to some estimates, nearly 19 per cent of the total geographical area of the country and 12 per cent of its total population suffer due to drought every year. About 30 per cent of the country’s total area is identified as drought prone. It is common to see flood and drought at same time in different region. It is also common that same region faces drought in one season and flood in another season. This is attributed to spatial and temporal unpredictability in the monsoon behavior. Recently IMD has decided to drop the word ‘drought’ and replace it with ‘deficient’ to describe the bad monsoon. It said that it was never the mandate of IMD to declare drought and it is on the state government to decide as droughts are of various types – hydrological, agricultural etc. On the basis of severity of droughts, India can be divided into the 3 regions as shown in table 5.
Extreme Drought Affected Areas
Most parts of Rajasthan, particularly areas to the west of the Aravali hills, i.e. Marusthali and Kachchh regions of Gujarat fall in this category.
The districts like Jaisalmer and Barmer from the Indian desert that receive less that 90 mm average annual rainfall.
Severe Drought Prone Area
Parts of eastern Rajasthan, most parts of Madhya Pradesh, eastern parts of Maharashtra, interior parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka Plateau, northern parts of interior Tamil Nadu and southern parts of Jharkhand and interior Odisha
Moderate Drought Affected Area
Northern parts of Rajasthan, Haryana, southern districts of Uttar Pradesh, the remaining parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra except Konkan, Jharkhand and Coimbatore plateau of Tamil Nadu and interior Karnataka
Consequences of Drought
Droughts have cascading effects on various other aspects of environment and society.
Crop failure leading to scarcity of food grains, inadequate rainfall, resulting in shortage of water, and often shortage in all the three is most devastating.
Large-scale death of cattle and other animals, migration of humans and livestock are the most common sight.
Scarcity of water compels people to consume contaminated water resulting in spread of many waterborne diseases like gastro-enteritis, cholera, hepatitis, etc.
Measures to cope with Drought
Drought Monitoring: It is continuous observation of the rainfall situation, availability of water in the reservoirs, lakes, rivers etc and comparing with the existing water needs in various sectors of the society.
Distribution of safe drinking water, medicines for the victims and availability of fodder and water for the cattle and shifting of the people and their livestock to safer places
Water management is the most crucial long-term step for fighting drought.
Suitable farming methods for arid areas: By adopting the following methods it is possible to mitigate the intensity of drought. The methods are: Production of coarse and hardy cereals; conservation of soil moisture by deep ploughing, storing water behind small dams, collecting water in ponds and tanks and use of sprinklers for irrigation.
Sowing drought resistant crops: By sowing drought resistant crops of cotton, Moong, pearl millet, wheat etc, the impact of drought could be mitigated to a certain extent.
Rain water harvesting: Collection of each and every drop of rain could help in coping with the drought.
By making high bunds around the fields, adoption of terrace cultivation, planting trees on the bunds of fields, the use of rainwater can be maximised.
Water can also be conserved by taming the irrigation canals with mortar and bricks.
Small quantity of water can irrigate comparatively larger area by using drip irrigation and sprinkler methods.
Identification of ground water potential in the form of aquifers, transfer of river water from the surplus to the deficit areas, and particularly planning for inter-linking of rivers and construction of reservoirs and dams.
Livelihood planning identifies those livelihoods which are least affected by the drought. Some of such livelihoods include increased off-farm employment opportunities, collection of non-timber forest produce from the community forests, raising goats, carpentry etc.
Drought planning: the basic goal of drought planning is to improve the effectiveness of preparedness and response efforts by enhancing monitoring, mitigation and response measures.
India has the highest mountain chain on earth, the Himalayas, which are formed due to collision of Indian and Eurasian plate, the northward movement of the Indian plate towards China causes continuous stress on the rocks rendering them friable, weak and prone to landslides and earthquakes. The slow motion of the Indian crust, about 5 cm/year accumulates stress to which natural disasters are attributed. Some landslides make unique and unparalleled catastrophes. Landslides and avalanches are among the major hydro-geological hazards that affect large parts of India. Besides the Himalayas, the Northeastern hill ranges, the Western Ghats, the Nilgiris, the Eastern Ghats and the Vindhyans, in that order, covering about 15 % of the landmass. The Himalayas alone count for landslides of every fame, name and description- big and small, quick and creeping, ancient and new. The Northeastern region is badly affected by landslide problems of a bewildering variety.
Landslides in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal as also those in Sikkim, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh pose chronic problems, causing recurring economic losses worth billions of rupees. A different variety of landslides, characterized by a lateritic cap, pose constant threat to the Western Ghats in the South, along the steep slopes overlooking the Konkan coast besides Nilgiris, which is highly landslide prone.
On the basis of past experiences, frequency and certain causal relationships with the controlling factors like geology, geomorphic agents, slope, land-use, vegetation cover and human activities, India has been divided into a number of vulnerability zones as shown in table.
Very High Vulnerability Zone
Highly unstable, relatively young mountainous areas in the Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar, high rainfall regions with steep slopes in the Western Ghats and Nilgiris, the north-eastern regions, along with areas that experience frequent ground-shaking due to earthquakes, etc. and areas of intense human activities, particularly those related to construction of roads, dams, etc. are included in this zone.
High Vulnerability Zone
Areas that have almost similar conditions to those included in the very high vulnerability zone are also included in this category. The only difference between these two is the combination, intensity and frequency of the controlling factors. All the Himalayan states and the states from the north-eastern regions except the plains of Assam are included in the high vulnerability zones.
Moderate to Low Vulnerability Zone
Areas that receive less precipitation such as TransHimalayan areas of Ladakh and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh), undulated yet stable relief and low precipitation areas in the Aravali, rain shadow areas in the Western and Eastern Ghats and Deccan plateau also experience occasional landslides. Landslides due to mining and subsidence are most common in states like Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala.
The remaining parts of India, particularly states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal (except district Darjiling), Assam (except district Karbi Anglong) and Coastal regions of the southern States are safe as far as landslides are concerned
Causes of landslides
Heavy rain: Heavy rain is the main cause of landslides.
Deforestation: Deforestation is another major cause of landslides. Tree, brushes and grasses keep the soil particles compact. Mountain slope looses their protective cover by felling of trees. The rain water flows on such slopes with unempeded speed.
Earthquakes and volcanic explosions: Earthquake is a common feature in the Himalaya. Tremors destabilize the mountains and the rocks tumble downwards. Volcanic explosions also trigger landslides in the mountainous areas.
Building of roads: Roads are built in mountainous areas for development. During the process of the construction of road, a large amount of rocks and debris has to be removed. This process dislodges the rock structure and changes the angle of slopes. Consequently landslides are triggered.
Shifting agriculture: In the North Eastern part of India, the number and frequency of landslides has increased due to the practice of shifting agriculture.
Construction of houses and other buildings: For giving shelter to the ever-increasing population and promotion of tourism more and more house and hotels are being built. In building processes large amount of debris created. This causes the landslides.
Impact of landslides
Degrading of environment: Landslides are degrading the environment of mountains. Natural beauty is diminishing slowly and slowly.
Sources of water are drying up.
Diversion of river courses due to landslides can also lead to flood and loss of life and property.
Roadblocks, destruction of railway lines and channel blocking due to rock-falls have far-reaching consequences on economic and social life.
Life and property are lost
The problem needs to be tackled for mitigation and management for which hazard zones have to be identified
and specific slides to be stabilized and managed in addition to monitoring and early warning systems to be
placed at selected sites.
It is always advisable to adopt area-specific measures to deal with landslides.
Hazard mapping should be done to locate areas commonly prone to landslides.
Restriction on the construction and other developmental activities such as roads and dams, limiting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes, and control on the development of large settlements in the high vulnerability zones, should be enforced.
Promote large-scale afforestation programmes and construction of bunds to reduce the flow of water.
Terrace farming should be encouraged in the northeastern hill states replacing Jhumming or shifting cultivation.
Retaining walls can be built of mountain slopes to stop land from slipping.
Dos and Don’ts
Keep drains clean,
Direct storm water away from slopes,
Inspect drains for - litter, leaves, plastic bags, rubble etc.
Keep the weep holes open.
Don’t let the water go waste or store above your house.
Grow more trees that can hold the soil through roots,
Identify areas of rock fall and subsidence of buildings, cracks that indicate landslides and move to safer
areas. Even muddy river waters indicate landslides upstream.
Notice such signals and contact the nearest District Head Quarters.
Ensure that toe of slope is not cut, remains protected, don’t uproot trees unless revegetation is planned.
8.4. BIOLOGICAL DISASTERS
Biological disasters might be caused by epidemics, accidental release of virulent microorganism(s) or
Bioterrorism (BT) with the use of biological agents such as anthrax, smallpox, etc. In recent times travelling has
become easier. More and more people are travelling all over the world which exposes the whole world to
In India, the major sources of epidemics can be broadly categorized as follows:
a) Water-borne diseases like cholera (and forms of gastroenteritis), typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B etc - major
epidemics of such diseases have been recorded in the past and continue to occur;
b) Vector-borne (often mosquito-borne) epidemics like dengue fever, chikungunya fever, Japanese
encephalitis, malaria, kala-azar etc, which usually occur in certain regions of the country;
c) Person to person transmission of diseases e.g. AIDS and other venereal diseases; and
d) Air-borne diseases like influenza and measles that can also be transmitted through fomites (used clothes
In addition to the above, there are certain types of emerging infectious diseases such as epidemic of Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which had occurred in China or the recent outbreak of avian flu in poultry in certain parts of the country and which has the potential of being transmitted to human beings. Epidemics due to the Dengue virus have occurred in many metropolitan cities of India and outbreak of various other types of viral diseases is also a recurring phenomena.
Epidemics often take place due to poor sanitary conditions leading to contamination of food and water or due to inadequate disposal of human or animal carcasses in post disaster situations. They become real dangers during floods and earthquakes. Sometimes, poor solid waste management may create epidemics like plague. Incidence of plague is quite uncommon now but it can still occur claiming many human lives and disrupting normal life as it did in Surat in 1994.
It can result dit in heavy mortalities in the short term leading to a depletion of population with a corresponding drop in economic activity
It leads to diversion of substantial resources of an economy to contain the disaster.
The essential challenges posed by natural and artificial outbreaks of disease (bioterrorism) include
the development of mechanisms for prompt detection of incipient outbreaks
isolation of the infected persons and the people they have been in contact with
mobilisation of investigational and therapeutic countermeasures
international collaboration as epidemics do not respect national borders
Legal framework - The Epidemic Diseases Act was enacted in 1897 and needs to be repealed. This Act does not provide any power to the centre to intervene in biological emergencies. It has to be substituted by an Act which takes care of the prevailing and foreseeable public health needs including emergencies such as BT attacks and use of biological weapons by an adversary, cross-border issues, and international spread of diseases
Operational framework - At the national level, there is no policy on biological disasters. The existing contingency plan of MoH&FW is about 10 years old and needs extensive revision. All components related to public health, namely apex institutions, field epidemiology, surveillance, teaching, training, research, etc., need to be strengthened.
Command, control and coordination - One of the lessons learned during the plague outbreak in Surat in 1994 and avian influenza in 2006 is the need to strengthen coordination with other sectors like animal health, home department, communication, media, etc., on a continuous basis for the management of outbreaks of this nature
Augmentation in human resource - There is a shortage of medical and paramedical staff at the district and sub-district levels. There is also an acute shortage of public health specialists, epidemiologists, clinical microbiologists and virologists. There have been limited efforts in the past to establish teaching/training institutions for these purposes.
Basic infrastructural setup – Biosafety laboratories for prompt diagnosis, network of sub centres, PHCs and CHCs, dispensaries with stockpile of essential vaccines and medicines need to be expanded to handle epidemic.
8.5. NUCLEAR HAZARDS
With increased emphasis on power generation through nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear hazards has also increased. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been identified as the nodal agency in the country in respect of manmade radiological emergencies in the public domain. Nuclear facilities in India have adopted internationally accepted guidelines for ensuring safety to the public and environment. A crisis management system is also in place to take care of any nuclear hazard. In addition to the other types of emergency response plans in place within the facility to handle local emergencies, response plans have also been drawn up for handling such emergencies in the public domain, which are called as “offsite Emergencies”. These plans - drawn up separately in detail for each site - which are under the jurisdiction of the local district administration, cover an area of about 16 km radius around the plant or the offsite Emergency Planning Zone.
8.6. SLOW ONSET DISASTERS
Disasters can also be classified as ‘slow onset’ disasters and ‘rapid onset’ disasters. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis would fall under the category of rapid onset disasters; climate change (global warming), desertification, soil degradation, and droughts, would fall under the category of slow onset disasters. Slow onset disasters are also termed as ‘Creeping Emergencies’. It may be added that with ‘prevention’ forming an integral part of the ‘management cycle’, slow onset disasters like global warming, and desertification must find adequate reflection in disaster preparedness - these phenomena gradually erode the ‘health’ of ecosystems and expose societies to the vagaries of nature. Unlike the rapid onset disasters, their impact is not felt immediately; however societies lose their ability to derive sustenance from their surroundings, over a period of time. Development policies and the manner in which they are implemented are some of the main reasons for the slow onset disasters.
8.7. INDUSTRIAL DISASTERS
Among the manmade disasters, probably the most devastating (after wars) are industrial disasters. These disasters may be caused by chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical or other process failures in an industrial plant due to accident or negligence, which may cause widespread damage within and/or outside the plant. The worst example globally was the Methyl Iso-cynate gas leak in 1984 from the Union Carbide Factory in Bhopal which has so far claimed more than 20,000 lives and injured several lakh persons besides stunting the growth of a generation born from the affected population. This disaster triggered a completely new legal regime and practices for preventing such disasters.
In the pre-Bhopal Gas Tragedy era, industrial safety was governed by legislations like the Factories Act, 1948 and the Explosives Act, 1884. These laws proved to be inadequate to provide safety to workers as well as to the people living in the surrounding areas. After the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, a new chapter was inserted in the Factories Act, 1948 dealing with hazardous processes. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 was enacted. More importantly, several Rules were promulgated under the Act.
About 1633 major industrial hazard units are located in 245 districts in 19 States/UTs. Stringent environmental protection laws have prevented major industrial disasters after Bhopal, but minor disasters do take place on and off site and also during transportation of hazardous materials, which claim a number of lives each year besides creating environmental problems. Industrial disasters are a major concern today because of increase in the pace of industrialization. It is reported that more than 1140 workers lost their lives and 48,000 workers suffered injuries in factories in 2005. The figure would be more if one includes the civilians who have lost their lives due to accidents in manufacturing processes, storage and transportation of hazardous material. With rapid industrialization, the threat of industrial disasters has increased. However, in spite of the existence of a large number of laws, their enforcement has left much to be desired.
8.8. DISASTER MANAGEMENT
For a long time, geographical literature viewed disasters as a consequence of natural forces; and human beings were treated as innocent and helpless victims in front of the mighty forces of nature. But natural forces are not the only causes of disasters. Disasters are also caused by some human activities. Landslides and floods due to deforestation, unscientific land use and construction activities in fragile areas are some of the disasters that are the results of indirect human actions. While others such as Bhopal Gas tragedy, Chernobyl nuclear disaster, wars, release of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and increase of green house gases, environmental pollutions are results of direct human actions.
Human-made disasters have increased both in their numbers and magnitudes over the years and concerted efforts are on at various levels to prevent and minimise their occurrences. Though the success has been only nominal so far, it is possible to prevent some of these disasters created by human actions. As opposed to this, very little is possible to prevent natural disasters; therefore, the best way out is to emphasise on natural disaster mitigation and management. National Institute of Disaster Management, (NIDM) India, Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1993 and the World Conference on Disaster Management in May 1994 at Yokohama, Japan, etc. are some of the concrete steps towards this direction.
Yokohama Strategy and International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World
All the member states of the United Nations and other states met at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in the city of Yokohama from May 23rd-27th 1994. It acknowledged that the impact of natural disasters in terms of human and economic losses has risen in recent years, and society, in general, has become vulnerable to natural disasters. It also accepted that these disasters affected the poor and disadvantageous groups the worst, particularly in the developing countries, which are ill-equipped to cope with them. Hence, the conference adopted the Yokohama strategy as a guide to rest of the decade and beyond, to mitigate the losses due to these disasters.
The resolution of the World Conference on Natural Disasters Reduction is as mentioned below:
i. It will note that each country has the sovereign responsibility to protect its citizens from natural disasters;
ii. It will give priority attention to the developing countries, particularly the least developed, land-locked countries and small-island developing states;
iii. It will develop and strengthen national capacities and capabilities and, where appropriate, national legislation for natural and other disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, including the mobilisation of non-governmental organisations and participation of local communities;
iv. It will promote and strengthen sub-regional, regional and international cooperation in activities to prevent, reduce and mitigate natural and other disasters, with particular emphasis on:
a. human and institutional capacity-building and strengthening;
b. technology sharing: the collection, the dissemination and utilisation of information; and
c. mobilisation of resources.
It also declared the decade 1990-2000 as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. It is the outcome of stakeholder consultations and inter-governmental negotiations which were supported by the UNISDR upon the request of the UN General Assembly. UNISDR has been tasked to support the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework.
The Framework was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, on March 18, 2015. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 outlines seven clear targets and four priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks:
Understanding disaster risk
Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
Investing in disaster reduction for resilience and
Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to "Build Back Better" in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
It aims to achieve the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries over the next 15 years.
We cannot prevent natural hazards, which are endemic to our geology, geography, climate, social and cultural settings, but we can certainly strive to manage crisis more efficiently so that hazards do not degenerate into disasters. Making a policy or formulating a plan is much simpler compared to its implementation when need arises. Disaster management needs innovative thinking and fundamental changes. There is a need to bring new technologies, methods, procedures etc. into the system for better prediction. For instance, IMD (24 hours) & National Centre for medium range and weather forecast (46 hours) predicted 8-16 cm rainfall while the actual rainfall recorded was 94.4cm in Mumbai-05. None of the reports could pick up the intra-city variations in the rainfall.
According to a recent study by the World Bank, 2.25% of the GDP and 12.15% of the revenue of the country were lost due to natural disasters during 1996-2000. Every rupee spent on mitigation saves three to five rupees on relief and rehabilitation.
Constitutionally disaster management as a subject is not mentioned in any of the three lists. Therefore, it comes under residuary powers of the union under entry 97 of the union list. Accordingly, parliament has the competence to legislate on this subject, in one view. But in 2005, the Government of India (GoI) took a defining step by enacting the Disaster Management Act, 2005 by invoking the entry 23 namely ‘social security and social insurance, employment and unemployment in the concurrent list because by practice and convention the primary responsibility of managing the disasters rests with the state governments. The salient features of the DMA were that it was a proactive, holistic and integrated approach as opposed to a reactive one. It had the legal authority to respond and take action as demanded by the situation and was backed by an institutional framework. And, last but not the least, it had what its predecessor organisations did not have viz. financial support by the creation of a Response Fund and a Mitigation Fund. There will be a paradigm shift, from the erstwhile relief-centric response to a proactive prevention, mitigation and preparedness-driven approach for conserving developmental gains and to minimize loss of life, livelihood and property.
8.8.1. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENT
The Disaster Management Act 2005 has provided the legal and institutional framework for disaster management in India at the national, state and district levels. In the federal polity of India the primary responsibility of disaster management vests with the State Governments. The Central Government lays down policies and guidelines and provides technical, financial and logistic support while the district administration carries out most of the operations in collaboration with central and state level agencies.
In the Central Government there are existing institutions and mechanisms for disaster management while new dedicated institutions have been created under the Disaster Management Act of 2005.
The Cabinet Committee on Management of Natural Calamities (CCMNC) oversees all aspects relating to the management of natural calamities including assessment of the situation and identification of measures and programmes considered necessary to reduce its impact, monitor and suggest long term measures for prevention of such calamities, formulate and recommend programmes for public awareness for building up society's resilience to them. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) deals with the matters relating to nuclear, biological and chemical emergencies.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) under the Cabinet Secretary oversees the Command, Control and Coordination of the disaster response.
The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has created new institutions at the national, state, district and local levels. The new institutional framework for disaster management in the country is as under:
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister is the apex body responsible for laying down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management and for coordinating their enforcement and implementation throughout the country. The policies and guidelines will assist the Central Ministries, State Governments and district administration to formulate their respective plans and programmes. NDMA has the power to approve the National Plans and the Plans of the respective Ministries and Departments of Government of India. The general superintendence, direction and control of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are vested in and will be exercised by the NDMA.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) is mandated to assist the NDMA in the discharge of its functions and further ensure compliance of the directions issued by the Central Government. The NEC comprises of the Union Home Secretary as the Chairperson, and the Secretaries to the GOI in the Ministries/Departments of Agriculture, Atomic Energy, Defence, Drinking Water Supply, Environment and Forests, Finance (Expenditure), Health, Power, Rural Development, Science and Technology, Space, Telecommunications, Urban Development, Water Resources and the Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as members. Secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs, Earth Sciences, Human Resource Development, Mines, Shipping, Road Transport & Highways and Secretary, NDMA are special invitees to the meetings of the NEC. The National Executive Committee is responsible to prepare the National Plan and coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Policy and the guidelines issued by NDMA.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Central Government has the overall responsibility for disaster management in the country. For a few specific types of disasters the concerned Ministries have the nodal responsibilities for management of the disasters, as under:
Ministry of Agriculture
Epidemics & Biological Disasters
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Ministry of Atomic Energy
Ministry of Civil Aviation
Ministry of Railways
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) has the mandate for human resource development and capacity building for disaster management within the broad policies and guidelines laid down by the NDMA. NIDM is required to design, develop and implement training programmes, undertake research, formulate and implement a comprehensive human resource development plan, provide assistance in national policy formulation, assist other research and training institutes, state governments and other organizations for successfully discharging their responsibilities, develop educational materials for dissemination and promote awareness among stakeholders in addition to undertake any other function as assigned to it by the Central Government
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is the specialized force for disaster response which works under the overall supervision and control of the NDMA.
At the State Level the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), headed by the Chief Minister, lays down policies and plans for disaster management in the State. It is also responsible to coordinate the implementation of the State Plan, recommend provision of funds for mitigation and preparedness measures and review the developmental plans of the different departments of the State to ensure integration of prevention, preparedness and mitigation measures.
The State Disaster Management Department (DMD) which is mostly positioned in the Revenue and relief Department is the nodal authority.
In the district level the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) is headed by the District Magistrate, with the elected representative of the local authority as the Co-Chairperson. DDMA is the planning, coordinating and implementing body for disaster management at district level. It will, inter alia prepare the District Disaster Management Plan and monitor the implementation of the National and State Policies and the National, State and the District Plans. DDMA will also ensure that the guidelines for prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response measures laid down by the NDMA and the SDMA are followed by all departments of the State Government at the district level and the local authorities in the district. The Local Authorities both the rural local self governing institutions (Panchayati Raj Institutions) and urban local bodies (Municipalities, Cantonment Boards and Town Planning Authorities) These bodies will ensure capacity building of their officers and employees for managing disasters, carry out relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the affected areas and will prepare DM Plans in consonance with guidelines of the NDMA, SDMAs and DDMAs
The implementation of the National Disaster Act, 2005 has been slow, and slack. On 22 July 2013 Supreme Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation issued notices to the Governments of Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan Maharashtra and the Central government for alleged failure to implement the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The petitioner alleged that the non-implementation of the Disaster Management Act by the Government of Uttarakhand endangered the lives of citizens. He sought "reasonable ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life, damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood to victims of flash floods in Uttarakhand under the Disaster Management Act".
The act has been criticized for marginalizing Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), elected local representatives, local communities and civic group; and for fostering a hierarchical, bureaucratic, command and control, 'top down', approach that gives the central, state, and district authorities sweeping powers. It is also alleged that the "Act became a law almost at the will of the bureaucrats who framed it."
Figure 6 – National Disaster Management structure
A typical Disaster Management continuum as shown in figure 7, comprising of six elements i.e., Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness in pre-disaster phase, and Response, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in post-disaster phase, defines the complete approach to Disaster Management.
The ‘life cycle’ of disaster management may be divided broadly into three phases-
1. pre-crisis: Preparedness
a. long term prevention measures
b. short term measures - disaster education,
enforcement of laws,
2. during crisis: Emergency Response
b. search and rescue
c. provision of basic needs
3. post crisis - 3Rs
8.8.3. SECOND ARC ON NDM ACT 2005
Disaster/Crisis Management should continue to be the primary responsibility of the State Governments and the Union Government should play a supportive role.
The Act should provide categorization of disasters (say, local, district, state or national level). This categorization along with intensity of each type of disaster will help in determining the level of authority primarily responsible for dealing with the disaster as well as the scale of response and relief - detailed guidelines may be stipulated by the NDMA on this subject.
The law should make provisions for stringent punishment for misutilization of funds meant for crisis/disaster management.
The role of the local governments should be brought to the forefront for crisis/disaster management.
The NEC as stipulated under the Disaster Management Act need not be constituted, and the NCMC should continue to be the apex coordination body. At the state level, the existing coordination mechanism under the Chief Secretary should continue.
8.8.4. DISASTER INSURANCE
Excessive dependence on relief and rehabilitation packages creates a regime where there are no incentives for adoption of risk reduction. Insurance is a potentially important mitigation measure in disaster-prone areas as it
brings quality in the infrastructure & consciousness and a culture of safety and culture of prevention. Disaster insurance mostly works under the premise of ‘higher the risk higher the premium, thus creating awareness towards vulnerable areas and motivating people to settle in relatively safe areas.
Following the success of micro-credit for rural development, micro-insurance has started emerging as a tool for ex ante risk management. In fact, micro-credit and micro-insurance support each other. The tool of insurance should be made attractive through a set of policy measures and fiscal incentives. Catastrophic Insurance: Examples from Japan - Seismic Hazard Maps have been put to use and have been found appropriate for modeling financial risk, including time-dependent and time-independent rates of earthquake recurrence.
8.8.5. COMMUNITY BASED DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Disaster management can be effective only if the communities participate in it as community is the repository of knowledge and skills which have evolved traditionally and these needs to be integrated in the management strategy. For example – in recent floods in Chennai, local people were able to help army and other forces in locating the routes as roads were all filled and army was not acquainted with the area as much as locals.
Community is the first line of responders, thus, It is necessary to educate the community and impart skills and assign specific roles regarding disaster management to ensure a coordinated response while disaster. This can be achieved by:
Undertaking location specific training programmes for the community: Cascading approach should be used to impart training as the number of people to be imparted skills are very large. Thus this responsibility can be entrusted at the local level, say, village panchayats
Disaster management education needs to integrated within the formal and informal systems of education
The leaders and personnel in critical sectors should be given disaster management training as well
A proper safety plan including all pre-disaster planning to reduce risk should be made to enhance community preparedness
The entire process of damage assessment and distribution of the relief packages can be conducted very smoothly with the active involvement of local community leaders and SHGs.
Community also play an important role in recovery process including the socio-psychological rehabilitation of the victims of the disaster as they are more aware about their conditions before the disaster. During the recent past, it has been experienced that the capacity building of the community has been very helpful even in normal situations when isolated instances of drowning, burns etc. take place. With the creation of awareness generation on disaster mitigation and carrying out mock drills from time to time under the close supervision of Disaster Management Committees the community will be able to function as a well-knit unit in case of any emergency.
8.8.6. ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN DISASTER
The role of the media is very important. They are often not provided with the correct information, resulting in the spread of incorrect information which adds to the panic. The disasters are both natural and man-made. But the root causes of some of the seemingly natural disasters may also be certain human activities carried on in utter disregard of their consequences to the nature. Such natural disasters are also therefore preventable. Since all man-made disasters and some of the so called natural disasters are preventable, the media should be used constructively
To educate the community in recognising symptoms and reporting them early if found.
Ensuring cooperation of the community in risk reduction by forewarning the people about the consequences of their dangerous actions and operations.
During the onslaught of the disaster, what is of utmost importance is to keep the morale of the people high, to create self-confidence in them, to prevent panic and to maintain order by assuring and making available the necessary help readily and quickly. The media can help, in many ways in ensuring these conditions.
Communicating the information to the people and the concerned authorities sufficiently in advance to enable them to take the necessary steps to prevent and minimize the losses of lives and property.
Playing the role of relaying the measures that are being taken and monitoring them
Cautioning the affected or to be affected people about the Dos and Don’ts, of scotching rumours and preventing panic and confusion
Identifying the needy spots and focusing attention on them
Assisting the authorities, voluntary organizations and volunteers in reaching, informing and assuring the affected ones of the assistance and the measures taken, for their relief.
Collection of material resources and the enlisting of man-power by appealing to the people to come forward to render help. Many times, the depiction of devastation and of human misery through the by itself acts as an appeal
Helping the affected in establishing contacts with their closed ones
Keeping a watch and report on some anti-social elements who try to take advantage of such situations
Contributing by countering the damaging, exaggerated and negative reporting and propaganda in the foreign media on the occurrence of the disasters. A prompt presentation of the real state of affairs by our media including the news-agencies, and the correction of the misrepresentations by them will go a long way in dispelling the wrong impressions created abroad which may otherwise have adverse effect on the administration, the economy and the polity of the country.
Almost always, the worst sufferers are the weaker sections of the society. They are unable to shift from these places, because there lie their sources of livelihood and all that they have in life to preserve and protect. They constitute a vast section of our society. Yet, except in the times of disaster, they are rarely remembered and the measures for the permanent solution of their plight are hardly ever discussed in the media. The media can also focus its attention on this problem.
Role of Social Media
Unbelievable as it sounds, PWD officials created a WhatsApp group and that acted as the main tool of communication for sharing information during the devastating Hudhud cyclone that struck Visakhapatnam. No meetings and discussions were organised at the district level as the WhatsApp group helped identify and access required resources
This case reveals the potential of social media to be used in tackling the challenges posed by natural calamities. Following hudhud cyclone post-disaster damage assessment showed how social media was effective in communicating the exact location of breach of road or fallen trees, identifying the required resources and request for tools and JCBs etc. to the concerned person directly using Whatsapp group.
Social media has become a part of our daily lives and is a very powerful tool for emergency management if used properly. Social media and pre-designed apps are effective when written reports and formal meetings are not required. During our current road to resilience mission we learned about the use of social media during the Chennai flooding last year.
8.9. NATIONAL POLICY ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT
NDMA came up with a ‘national policy on Disaster Management’ (NPDM) in 2009. It is prepared in tune with and in pursuance of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with a vision to build a safe and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster oriented and technology driven strategy through a culture of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response. The Policy covers all aspects of disaster management such as:
Covering institutional, legal and financial arrangements
Disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, techno-legal regime
Response, relief and rehabilitation
Reconstruction and recovery
Knowledge management and research and development
The NPDM addresses the concerns of all the sections of the society including differently abled persons, women, children and other disadvantaged groups. The NPDM aims to bring in transparency and accountability in all aspects of disaster management through involvement of community, community based organizations, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), local bodies and civil society.
8.10. CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS
8.10.1. RETROFITTING OF BUILDINGS – THE KEY IS TO LET IT SWING
Parameters for earthquake-resistant construction have been laid down in Indian Standards Code, 2002, which has been periodically updated. It entails studying a building’s design and assessing its construction material by non-destructive radiological tests.
The key idea of making a building earthquake-resistant is to make it ductile, i.e. to give it a certain flexibility to shake horizontally. It helps soften the impact of the earthquake and lets the building absorb its energy.
To make a building earthquake resistant, its base is strengthened in a way that during an earthquake, the building’s load is borne by the base alone, and upper stories do not experience much quaking. The part of the base that is above the ground is cut and rested on bearings, exactly like how a jack is used to lift a car to change wheels. The bearings act as shock absorbers, similar to those in cars. Adding rubber material such as used tyres to the foundation of a building under construction can also be done.
Symmetrical structures such as a square, circle or rectangle are less vulnerable and easier to retrofit.
For a building under construction, the cost is estimated to increase by about 10% and for retrofitting, it is estimated to be around 15-20% of the total cost of the structure.
8.10.2. CHANGE IN OPERATIONS AFTER ESTABLISHMENT OF NDRF
Earlier (for e.g. during Bhuj EQ), it was bulldozers and earth movers that hauled debris, rescuers employed eyes and ears and sniffer dogs to search for people – living or dead, and to manually pull them out. This has undergone drastic improvement, both in terms of technology and specialized training. Rescue operations in quake hit areas are a highly sophisticated exercise, known as CSSR – Collapsed Structures Search and Rescue.
Locating survivors is technology driven – thermal sensors and heartbeat detectors can find survivors 40-50 feet beneath the rubble. It even can distinguish between a human and an animal. Modern equipment can cut through concrete quickly and precisely. Once a survivor is located, a 15-20 foot hole (triangular since bricks hold well in this shape) can be drilled to lower a camera. A video conversation can infuse hope in the victim; urge him/her not to give up.
Once cutting begins, rescuers take precaution that debris does not fall inside. Smoke is also sucked up, so that it does not suffocate the trapped.
NDRF, established in 2006, is now considered the world’s single largest dedicated disaster response force, with best technology and advanced training. It can tackle all disasters, including CBRN – Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear emergencies. Its capabilities match the most stringent international standards. It is in line to get certifications from International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, a global network of rescue forces under the UN.
8.10.3. Developing Disaster Proof Cities
At least 38 cities in India lie in the high-risk seismic zones; ~60% of the sub-continental landmass is immensely vulnerable to various natural disasters. The fact the large section of population is poor and lives in houses and cities that are hastily built and are not earthquake resistant raises the risk of human impact, in case of any natural disaster.
The urban planning in India, especially the SMART cities project and AMRUT mission should take into account topography and vulnerability of areas to various hazards. A World Bank report on urbanization in South Asia outlines the need for government to plan for more resilient cities and to plan holistically to deal with risks arising out of growing population density. It enlists four recommendations for policymakers:-
Identify risk by using Urban Risk Assessment framework
Mitigate risk by planning critical and multipurpose safe and resilient infrastructure
Develop a Risk Financing Scheme to provide immediate liquidity in the aftermath and to build financial resilience
Build Strong Institutions and collect, share and distribute data.
Urban population in South Asia is projected to grow by about 300 million between 2011 and 2030. Unplanned migration has resulted in concentration of poor population in risk-prone areas, Deltas, flood-plains and coasts are most vulnerable. According to the report:-
80% of major South Asian cities are exposed to floods.
More than half of future expansion would be in flood-prone areas
From reactive planning, cities are moving towards anticipatory planning by integrating DRM (Disaster Risk Management) into their national planning framework
Further steps required: Spatial planning and creating of formal land markets that limit unplanned development.
Planning for Disaster Summarized – Developing a resilience strategy
1. Identification of
Risks at national and city level
Vulnerabilities of communities and potential exposure to disasters
Critical infrastructure to develop early warning systems
2. Mitigation through both structural and non-structural methods
Structural measures – check dams, wave barriers, retrofitting buildings, etc.
Non-Structural measures – Building codes, land-use planning, Public awareness
City authorities should provide incentives to follow building codes as it would reduce post-disaster costs.
Empowerment of city leaders
3. Financing the Risk
Advanced Financing Plan – include reserves, calamity funds, budget contingencies, contingent debt facilities and risk transfer mechanisms.
Traditional Instruments – Insurance, reinsurance and parametric insurance
Alternative Risk transfer instruments – Catastrophe bonds – Required for major disasters
Example – Sri Lanka – Has a catastrophe draw down option with assistance from World Bank, which provides a line of credit in case of such events.
8.11. UPSC PREVIOUS YEARS MAINS QUESTIONS
1. Composition and functions of the National Executive Committee of the National Disaster Management Authority. (2011/5 Marks)
2. Write note on Causes of droughts in India. (UPSC 2005/2 Marks)
3. Which parts of India were mainly affected by the severe drought of 1987-88? What were its main consequences? (88/II/6b/20)
4. Why are floods such a recurrent feature in India? Discuss the measures taken by the Government for flood control. (85/II6c/20)
5. Drought has been recognized as a disaster in view of its spatial expanse, temporal duration, slow onset and lasting effects on vulnerable sections. With a focus on the September 2010 guidelines from the National Disaster Management Authority (NOMA), discuss the mechanisms for preparedness to deal with likeJy EI Nino and La Nina fallouts in India. (2014)
6. How important are vulnerability and risk assessment for pre-disaster management ? As an administrator, what are key areas that you would focus on in a Disaster Management System.