NCERT Textbook - Natural Hazards and Disasters Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

Created by: Mehtab Ahmed

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Natural Hazards and Disasters Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS:
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND MANAGEMENT
This unit deals with
• Floods and droughts
• Earthquakes and tsunami
• Cyclones
• Landslides
UNIT
IV
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 2


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS:
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND MANAGEMENT
This unit deals with
• Floods and droughts
• Earthquakes and tsunami
• Cyclones
• Landslides
UNIT
IV
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Y
ou might have read about tsunami or
seen the images of horror on
television set immediately after it
happened. You may also be aware of the severe
earthquake in Kashmir on both sides of the
Line of Control (LOC). The damage caused to
human life and properties during these
episodes has moved us all. What are these as
phenomena and how they are caused? How
can we save ourselves? These are some
questions which come to our minds. This
chapter will attempt to analyse some of these
questions.
Change is the law of nature. It is a continuous
process that goes on uninterruptedly involving
phenomena, big and small, material and non-
material that make our physical and socio-
cultural environment. It is a process present
everywhere with variations in terms of
magnitude, intensity and scale. Change can be
a gradual or slow process like the evolution of
landforms and organisms and it can be as
sudden and swift as volcanic eruptions,
tsunamis, earthquakes and lightening, etc.
Similarly, it may remain confined to a smaller
area occurring within a few seconds like
hailstorms, tornadoes and dust storms, and it
can also have global dimensions such as global
warming and depletion of the ozone layer.
Besides these, changes have different
meanings for different people. It depends upon
the perspective one takes while trying to
understand them. From the perspective of
nature, changes are value-neutral (these are
neither good nor bad). But from the human
perspective, these are value-loaded. There are
some changes that are desirable and good like
the change of seasons, ripening of fruits, while
there are others like earthquakes, floods and
wars that are considered bad and undesirable.
Observe the environment you live in and
prepare a list of changes, which take
place over a long period of time and
those, which take place within a short
period of time. Do you know why some
changes are considered good and others
bad? Prepare a list of changes, which
you notice in your daily life and give
reasons why some of these are
considered good and others bad.
In this chapter, we will read about some of
these changes, which are considered bad and
have haunted humankind for a long time.
Disasters in general and natural disasters
in particular, are some such changes that are
always disliked and feared by humankind.
What is a Disaster?
“Disaster is an undesirable occurrence
resulting from forces that are largely
outside human control, strikes quickly
with little or no warning, which causes
or threatens serious disruption of life
and property including death and injury
to a large number of people, and requires
therefore, mobilisation of efforts in excess
of that which are normally provided by
statutory emergency services”.
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
NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
CHAPTER
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 3


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS:
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND MANAGEMENT
This unit deals with
• Floods and droughts
• Earthquakes and tsunami
• Cyclones
• Landslides
UNIT
IV
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Y
ou might have read about tsunami or
seen the images of horror on
television set immediately after it
happened. You may also be aware of the severe
earthquake in Kashmir on both sides of the
Line of Control (LOC). The damage caused to
human life and properties during these
episodes has moved us all. What are these as
phenomena and how they are caused? How
can we save ourselves? These are some
questions which come to our minds. This
chapter will attempt to analyse some of these
questions.
Change is the law of nature. It is a continuous
process that goes on uninterruptedly involving
phenomena, big and small, material and non-
material that make our physical and socio-
cultural environment. It is a process present
everywhere with variations in terms of
magnitude, intensity and scale. Change can be
a gradual or slow process like the evolution of
landforms and organisms and it can be as
sudden and swift as volcanic eruptions,
tsunamis, earthquakes and lightening, etc.
Similarly, it may remain confined to a smaller
area occurring within a few seconds like
hailstorms, tornadoes and dust storms, and it
can also have global dimensions such as global
warming and depletion of the ozone layer.
Besides these, changes have different
meanings for different people. It depends upon
the perspective one takes while trying to
understand them. From the perspective of
nature, changes are value-neutral (these are
neither good nor bad). But from the human
perspective, these are value-loaded. There are
some changes that are desirable and good like
the change of seasons, ripening of fruits, while
there are others like earthquakes, floods and
wars that are considered bad and undesirable.
Observe the environment you live in and
prepare a list of changes, which take
place over a long period of time and
those, which take place within a short
period of time. Do you know why some
changes are considered good and others
bad? Prepare a list of changes, which
you notice in your daily life and give
reasons why some of these are
considered good and others bad.
In this chapter, we will read about some of
these changes, which are considered bad and
have haunted humankind for a long time.
Disasters in general and natural disasters
in particular, are some such changes that are
always disliked and feared by humankind.
What is a Disaster?
“Disaster is an undesirable occurrence
resulting from forces that are largely
outside human control, strikes quickly
with little or no warning, which causes
or threatens serious disruption of life
and property including death and injury
to a large number of people, and requires
therefore, mobilisation of efforts in excess
of that which are normally provided by
statutory emergency services”.
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
NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
CHAPTER
2015-16(20/01/2015)
78 INDIA : PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
not the only causes of disasters. Disasters are
also caused by some human activities. There
are some activities carried by human beings
that are directly responsible for disasters.
Bhopal Gas tragedy, Chernobyl nuclear disaster,
wars, release of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and
increase of green house gases, environmental
pollutions like noise, air, water and soil are some
of the disasters which are caused directly by
human actions. There are some other activities
of human beings that accelerate or intensify
disasters indirectly. 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. Can you identify some other
human activities going on in and around your
neighbourhood and schools that can lead to
disasters in the near future? Can you suggest
some measures to prevent it? It is a common
experience that 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. Establishment of National
Institute of Disaster Management, 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 initiated at different levels.
Most often it is observed that scholars use
disasters and natural hazards as interchangeable.
Both are related phenomena, yet quite distinct
from each other. Hence, it is necessary to
distinguish between the two.
Natural Hazards are elements of
circumstances in the Natural environment that
have the potential to cause harm to people or
property or both. These may be swift or
permanent aspects of the respective
environmental settings like currents in the
oceans, steep slope and unstable structural
features in the Himalayas or extreme climatic
conditions in deserts or glaciated areas.
As compared to natural hazards, natural
disasters are relatively sudden and cause
large scale, widespread death, loss of
property and disturbance to social systems
and life over which people have a little or no
control. Thus, any event can be classed as
disaster when the magnitude of destruction
and damage caused by it is very high.
Generally, disasters are generalised
experiences of people the world over, and no
two disasters are similar and comparable to
each other. Every disaster is unique in terms
of the local socio-environmental factors that
control it, the social response it generates, and
the way each social group negotiates with it.
However, the opinion mentioned above is
indicative of three important things. Firstly, the
magnitude, intensity, frequency and damages
caused by natural disasters have increased
over the years. Secondly, there is a growing
concern among people the world over to deal
with the menace created by these so that the
loss of human life and property can be
minimised. And finally, significant changes
have taken place in the pattern of natural
disasters over the years.
There has also been a change in the
perception of natural disasters and hazards.
Previously, hazards and disasters were seen
as two closely associated and interrelated
phenomena, i.e. areas prone to natural
hazards, were more vulnerable to disasters.
Hence, people avoided tampering with the
delicate balance that existed in a given
ecosystem. People avoided intensification of
their activities in such areas and that is how
disasters were less damaging. Technological
power has given large capacity to human
intervention in nature. Consequently, now,
human beings tend to intensify their activities
into disaster prone areas increasing their
vulnerability to disasters.   Colonisation of flood
plains of most of the rivers and development of
large cities and port-towns like – Mumbai and
Chennai along the coast, and touching the
shore due to high land values, make them
vulnerable to the occurrence of cyclones,
hurricanes and tsunamis.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 4


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS:
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND MANAGEMENT
This unit deals with
• Floods and droughts
• Earthquakes and tsunami
• Cyclones
• Landslides
UNIT
IV
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Y
ou might have read about tsunami or
seen the images of horror on
television set immediately after it
happened. You may also be aware of the severe
earthquake in Kashmir on both sides of the
Line of Control (LOC). The damage caused to
human life and properties during these
episodes has moved us all. What are these as
phenomena and how they are caused? How
can we save ourselves? These are some
questions which come to our minds. This
chapter will attempt to analyse some of these
questions.
Change is the law of nature. It is a continuous
process that goes on uninterruptedly involving
phenomena, big and small, material and non-
material that make our physical and socio-
cultural environment. It is a process present
everywhere with variations in terms of
magnitude, intensity and scale. Change can be
a gradual or slow process like the evolution of
landforms and organisms and it can be as
sudden and swift as volcanic eruptions,
tsunamis, earthquakes and lightening, etc.
Similarly, it may remain confined to a smaller
area occurring within a few seconds like
hailstorms, tornadoes and dust storms, and it
can also have global dimensions such as global
warming and depletion of the ozone layer.
Besides these, changes have different
meanings for different people. It depends upon
the perspective one takes while trying to
understand them. From the perspective of
nature, changes are value-neutral (these are
neither good nor bad). But from the human
perspective, these are value-loaded. There are
some changes that are desirable and good like
the change of seasons, ripening of fruits, while
there are others like earthquakes, floods and
wars that are considered bad and undesirable.
Observe the environment you live in and
prepare a list of changes, which take
place over a long period of time and
those, which take place within a short
period of time. Do you know why some
changes are considered good and others
bad? Prepare a list of changes, which
you notice in your daily life and give
reasons why some of these are
considered good and others bad.
In this chapter, we will read about some of
these changes, which are considered bad and
have haunted humankind for a long time.
Disasters in general and natural disasters
in particular, are some such changes that are
always disliked and feared by humankind.
What is a Disaster?
“Disaster is an undesirable occurrence
resulting from forces that are largely
outside human control, strikes quickly
with little or no warning, which causes
or threatens serious disruption of life
and property including death and injury
to a large number of people, and requires
therefore, mobilisation of efforts in excess
of that which are normally provided by
statutory emergency services”.
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
NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
CHAPTER
2015-16(20/01/2015)
78 INDIA : PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
not the only causes of disasters. Disasters are
also caused by some human activities. There
are some activities carried by human beings
that are directly responsible for disasters.
Bhopal Gas tragedy, Chernobyl nuclear disaster,
wars, release of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and
increase of green house gases, environmental
pollutions like noise, air, water and soil are some
of the disasters which are caused directly by
human actions. There are some other activities
of human beings that accelerate or intensify
disasters indirectly. 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. Can you identify some other
human activities going on in and around your
neighbourhood and schools that can lead to
disasters in the near future? Can you suggest
some measures to prevent it? It is a common
experience that 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. Establishment of National
Institute of Disaster Management, 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 initiated at different levels.
Most often it is observed that scholars use
disasters and natural hazards as interchangeable.
Both are related phenomena, yet quite distinct
from each other. Hence, it is necessary to
distinguish between the two.
Natural Hazards are elements of
circumstances in the Natural environment that
have the potential to cause harm to people or
property or both. These may be swift or
permanent aspects of the respective
environmental settings like currents in the
oceans, steep slope and unstable structural
features in the Himalayas or extreme climatic
conditions in deserts or glaciated areas.
As compared to natural hazards, natural
disasters are relatively sudden and cause
large scale, widespread death, loss of
property and disturbance to social systems
and life over which people have a little or no
control. Thus, any event can be classed as
disaster when the magnitude of destruction
and damage caused by it is very high.
Generally, disasters are generalised
experiences of people the world over, and no
two disasters are similar and comparable to
each other. Every disaster is unique in terms
of the local socio-environmental factors that
control it, the social response it generates, and
the way each social group negotiates with it.
However, the opinion mentioned above is
indicative of three important things. Firstly, the
magnitude, intensity, frequency and damages
caused by natural disasters have increased
over the years. Secondly, there is a growing
concern among people the world over to deal
with the menace created by these so that the
loss of human life and property can be
minimised. And finally, significant changes
have taken place in the pattern of natural
disasters over the years.
There has also been a change in the
perception of natural disasters and hazards.
Previously, hazards and disasters were seen
as two closely associated and interrelated
phenomena, i.e. areas prone to natural
hazards, were more vulnerable to disasters.
Hence, people avoided tampering with the
delicate balance that existed in a given
ecosystem. People avoided intensification of
their activities in such areas and that is how
disasters were less damaging. Technological
power has given large capacity to human
intervention in nature. Consequently, now,
human beings tend to intensify their activities
into disaster prone areas increasing their
vulnerability to disasters.   Colonisation of flood
plains of most of the rivers and development of
large cities and port-towns like – Mumbai and
Chennai along the coast, and touching the
shore due to high land values, make them
vulnerable to the occurrence of cyclones,
hurricanes and tsunamis.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
79 NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
These observations can also be corroborated
by the data given in Table 7.1  showing the
magnitude of deaths caused by twelve serious
natural disasters in the past sixty years in
different countries of the world.
It is evident from the table that natural
disasters have caused widespread loss of life and
property. Concerted efforts are on at various
levels to take appropriate measures to deal with
the situation. It is also being felt that the damages
caused by natural disasters have global
repercussions that are beyond the means and
capabilities of individual nation-states to cope
up with. Hence, this issue was raised at the U.N.
General Assembly in 1989 and it was finally
formalised at the World Conference on Disaster
Management in May 1994 at Yokohama, Japan.
This was subsequently called the Yokohama
Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World.
Source : United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), 1991
*News Report from National Institute for Disaster Management, Government of India, New Delhi
Table 7.1  : Some Natural Disasters Since 1948
Year Location Type Deaths
1948 The Soviet Union (now Russia) Earthquakes 110,000
1949 China Floods 57,000
1954 China Floods 30,000
1965 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical Cyclones 36,000
1968 Iran Earthquakes 30,000
1970 Peru Earthquakes 66,794
1970 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical Cyclones 500,000
1971 India Tropical Cyclones 30,000
1976 China Earthquakes 700,000
1990 Iran Earthquakes 50,000
2004 Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, etc. Tsunamis 500,000*
2005 Pakistan, India Earthquakes 70,000*
2011 Japan Tsunami 15,842*
CLASSIFICATION OF NATURAL DISASTERS
Human beings the world over have
experienced disasters and have faced and lived
with them. Now people are becoming aware
and various steps have been initiated at
different levels for mitigating the effects of
disasters. Identification and classification of
disasters is being considered as an effective and
scientific step to deal promptly and efficiently
with the disasters. Broadly, natural disasters
can be classified under four categories (See
Table 7.2).
India is one of those countries which has
experienced most of the natural disasters
mentioned in Table 7.2. Every year it loses
thousands of lives and property worth
millions of rupees due to these natural
calamities. In the following section, some of
Table 7.2 : Classification of Natural Disasters
Atmospheric Terrestrial Aquatic Biological
Blizzards Earthquakes Floods
Thunderstorms Volcanic Eruptions Tidal Waves
Lightning Landslides Ocean Currents
Tornadoes Avalanches Storm Surge
Tropical Cyclone Subsidence Tsunami
Drought Soil Erosion
Hailstorm
Frost, Heat Wave or
Loo.Cold Waves, etc.
Plants and Animals as
colonisers (Locusts, etc.).
Insects infestation— fungal,
bacterial and viral diseases
such as bird flu, dengue,
etc.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 5


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS:
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND MANAGEMENT
This unit deals with
• Floods and droughts
• Earthquakes and tsunami
• Cyclones
• Landslides
UNIT
IV
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Y
ou might have read about tsunami or
seen the images of horror on
television set immediately after it
happened. You may also be aware of the severe
earthquake in Kashmir on both sides of the
Line of Control (LOC). The damage caused to
human life and properties during these
episodes has moved us all. What are these as
phenomena and how they are caused? How
can we save ourselves? These are some
questions which come to our minds. This
chapter will attempt to analyse some of these
questions.
Change is the law of nature. It is a continuous
process that goes on uninterruptedly involving
phenomena, big and small, material and non-
material that make our physical and socio-
cultural environment. It is a process present
everywhere with variations in terms of
magnitude, intensity and scale. Change can be
a gradual or slow process like the evolution of
landforms and organisms and it can be as
sudden and swift as volcanic eruptions,
tsunamis, earthquakes and lightening, etc.
Similarly, it may remain confined to a smaller
area occurring within a few seconds like
hailstorms, tornadoes and dust storms, and it
can also have global dimensions such as global
warming and depletion of the ozone layer.
Besides these, changes have different
meanings for different people. It depends upon
the perspective one takes while trying to
understand them. From the perspective of
nature, changes are value-neutral (these are
neither good nor bad). But from the human
perspective, these are value-loaded. There are
some changes that are desirable and good like
the change of seasons, ripening of fruits, while
there are others like earthquakes, floods and
wars that are considered bad and undesirable.
Observe the environment you live in and
prepare a list of changes, which take
place over a long period of time and
those, which take place within a short
period of time. Do you know why some
changes are considered good and others
bad? Prepare a list of changes, which
you notice in your daily life and give
reasons why some of these are
considered good and others bad.
In this chapter, we will read about some of
these changes, which are considered bad and
have haunted humankind for a long time.
Disasters in general and natural disasters
in particular, are some such changes that are
always disliked and feared by humankind.
What is a Disaster?
“Disaster is an undesirable occurrence
resulting from forces that are largely
outside human control, strikes quickly
with little or no warning, which causes
or threatens serious disruption of life
and property including death and injury
to a large number of people, and requires
therefore, mobilisation of efforts in excess
of that which are normally provided by
statutory emergency services”.
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
NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
CHAPTER
2015-16(20/01/2015)
78 INDIA : PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
not the only causes of disasters. Disasters are
also caused by some human activities. There
are some activities carried by human beings
that are directly responsible for disasters.
Bhopal Gas tragedy, Chernobyl nuclear disaster,
wars, release of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and
increase of green house gases, environmental
pollutions like noise, air, water and soil are some
of the disasters which are caused directly by
human actions. There are some other activities
of human beings that accelerate or intensify
disasters indirectly. 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. Can you identify some other
human activities going on in and around your
neighbourhood and schools that can lead to
disasters in the near future? Can you suggest
some measures to prevent it? It is a common
experience that 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. Establishment of National
Institute of Disaster Management, 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 initiated at different levels.
Most often it is observed that scholars use
disasters and natural hazards as interchangeable.
Both are related phenomena, yet quite distinct
from each other. Hence, it is necessary to
distinguish between the two.
Natural Hazards are elements of
circumstances in the Natural environment that
have the potential to cause harm to people or
property or both. These may be swift or
permanent aspects of the respective
environmental settings like currents in the
oceans, steep slope and unstable structural
features in the Himalayas or extreme climatic
conditions in deserts or glaciated areas.
As compared to natural hazards, natural
disasters are relatively sudden and cause
large scale, widespread death, loss of
property and disturbance to social systems
and life over which people have a little or no
control. Thus, any event can be classed as
disaster when the magnitude of destruction
and damage caused by it is very high.
Generally, disasters are generalised
experiences of people the world over, and no
two disasters are similar and comparable to
each other. Every disaster is unique in terms
of the local socio-environmental factors that
control it, the social response it generates, and
the way each social group negotiates with it.
However, the opinion mentioned above is
indicative of three important things. Firstly, the
magnitude, intensity, frequency and damages
caused by natural disasters have increased
over the years. Secondly, there is a growing
concern among people the world over to deal
with the menace created by these so that the
loss of human life and property can be
minimised. And finally, significant changes
have taken place in the pattern of natural
disasters over the years.
There has also been a change in the
perception of natural disasters and hazards.
Previously, hazards and disasters were seen
as two closely associated and interrelated
phenomena, i.e. areas prone to natural
hazards, were more vulnerable to disasters.
Hence, people avoided tampering with the
delicate balance that existed in a given
ecosystem. People avoided intensification of
their activities in such areas and that is how
disasters were less damaging. Technological
power has given large capacity to human
intervention in nature. Consequently, now,
human beings tend to intensify their activities
into disaster prone areas increasing their
vulnerability to disasters.   Colonisation of flood
plains of most of the rivers and development of
large cities and port-towns like – Mumbai and
Chennai along the coast, and touching the
shore due to high land values, make them
vulnerable to the occurrence of cyclones,
hurricanes and tsunamis.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
79 NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
These observations can also be corroborated
by the data given in Table 7.1  showing the
magnitude of deaths caused by twelve serious
natural disasters in the past sixty years in
different countries of the world.
It is evident from the table that natural
disasters have caused widespread loss of life and
property. Concerted efforts are on at various
levels to take appropriate measures to deal with
the situation. It is also being felt that the damages
caused by natural disasters have global
repercussions that are beyond the means and
capabilities of individual nation-states to cope
up with. Hence, this issue was raised at the U.N.
General Assembly in 1989 and it was finally
formalised at the World Conference on Disaster
Management in May 1994 at Yokohama, Japan.
This was subsequently called the Yokohama
Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World.
Source : United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), 1991
*News Report from National Institute for Disaster Management, Government of India, New Delhi
Table 7.1  : Some Natural Disasters Since 1948
Year Location Type Deaths
1948 The Soviet Union (now Russia) Earthquakes 110,000
1949 China Floods 57,000
1954 China Floods 30,000
1965 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical Cyclones 36,000
1968 Iran Earthquakes 30,000
1970 Peru Earthquakes 66,794
1970 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical Cyclones 500,000
1971 India Tropical Cyclones 30,000
1976 China Earthquakes 700,000
1990 Iran Earthquakes 50,000
2004 Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, etc. Tsunamis 500,000*
2005 Pakistan, India Earthquakes 70,000*
2011 Japan Tsunami 15,842*
CLASSIFICATION OF NATURAL DISASTERS
Human beings the world over have
experienced disasters and have faced and lived
with them. Now people are becoming aware
and various steps have been initiated at
different levels for mitigating the effects of
disasters. Identification and classification of
disasters is being considered as an effective and
scientific step to deal promptly and efficiently
with the disasters. Broadly, natural disasters
can be classified under four categories (See
Table 7.2).
India is one of those countries which has
experienced most of the natural disasters
mentioned in Table 7.2. Every year it loses
thousands of lives and property worth
millions of rupees due to these natural
calamities. In the following section, some of
Table 7.2 : Classification of Natural Disasters
Atmospheric Terrestrial Aquatic Biological
Blizzards Earthquakes Floods
Thunderstorms Volcanic Eruptions Tidal Waves
Lightning Landslides Ocean Currents
Tornadoes Avalanches Storm Surge
Tropical Cyclone Subsidence Tsunami
Drought Soil Erosion
Hailstorm
Frost, Heat Wave or
Loo.Cold Waves, etc.
Plants and Animals as
colonisers (Locusts, etc.).
Insects infestation— fungal,
bacterial and viral diseases
such as bird flu, dengue,
etc.
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80 INDIA : PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
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 highly devastating natural disasters have been
discussed, particularly in the context of India.
NATURAL DISASTERS AND HAZARDS IN INDIA
It was discussed in one of the previous chapters
that India is vast and diverse in terms of its
physical and socio-cultural attributes. It is
largely due to its vast geographical area,
environmental diversities and cultural
pluralities that scholars often described it
using two meaningful adjectives like the
‘Indian-subcontinent’ and the ‘land of unity in
diversity’. Its vastness in terms of natural
attributes combined with its prolonged colonial
past, continuing various forms of social
discriminations and also equally large
population have enhanced its vulnerability to
natural disasters. These observations can also
be illustrated by focussing on some of the
major natural disasters in India.
Earthquakes
Earthquakes are by far the most unpredictable
and highly destructive of all the natural
disasters. You have already learnt the causes
of earthquakes in your book Fundamentals
of Physical Geography (NCERT, 2006).
Earthquakes that are of tectonic origin have
proved to be the most devastating and their
area of influence is also quite large.  These
earthquakes result from a series of earth
movements brought about by a sudden release
of energy during the tectonic activities in the
earth’s crust. As compared to these, the
earthquakes associated with volcanic
eruption, rock fall, landslides, subsidence,
particularly in the mining areas, impounding
of dams and reservoirs, etc. have limited  area of
influence and the scale of damage.
It was mentioned in Chapter 2 of the book
that the Indian plate is moving at a speed of one
centimetre per year towards the north and
northeastern direction and this movement of
plates is being constantly obstructed by the
Eurasian plate from the north. As a result of this,
both the plates are said to be locked with each
other resulting in accumulation of energy at
different points of time.  Excessive accumulation
of energy results in building up of stress, which
ultimately leads to the breaking up of the lock
and the sudden release of energy causes
2015-16(20/01/2015)
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