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Disaster Management and Problems

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Title: Disaster Management and Problems


1
Disaster Management and Problems An Indian
Perspective
  • APOSHO 26 Australasian Safety Conference
  • November 23, 2011.
    Perth
  • Ashok Huria
  • Honorary Secretary,
  • National Safety Council North Zone Chapter,
  • Chandigarh, India

2
  • Introduction Disaster by definition is an
    occurrence that causes a major and serious loss
    and damage of human lives, environment and
    property. This includes both natural and man made
    disasters. India has been traditionally
    vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its
    unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts,
    cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been a
    recurrent phenomena. About 60 of the landmass is
    prone to earthquakes of various intensities over
    40 million hectares is prone to floods about 8
    of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68 of
    the cultivable area is susceptible to drought.

3
  • In the decade 1990-2000, an average of about
    4344 people lost their lives and about 30 million
    people were affected by disasters every year. The
    loss in terms of private, community and public
    assets has been astronomical. Rapid
    industrialization during last three decades poses
    additional risks of chemical, nuclear and
    biological disasters.
  • Evolution A concerted effort for some
    disaster control was made only after Bhopal
    disaster in 1984. A number of statutes were
    enacted to cover handling, transport and
    management of hazardous chemicals and addressed
    the areas of prevention of accidents and
    emergency preparedness and community awareness.

4
  • DGFASLI- a department of the Government of
    India took up a project in 1988, with ILO on
    establishing and initial operation of Major
    Accident Hazard Control System in India. UNEP
    developed APELL process was institutionalized in
    the form of Chemical Accidents(Emergency
    Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules in
    1996. National Safety Council successfully
    implemented APELL-LAMP (Awareness and
    Preparedness at Local Level Local Accident
    Mitigation Programme) Project from 92 to 1997 in
    the industrial belt of Kerala.

5
  • The super cyclone in Orissa in October, 1999
    and the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat in January,
    2001 underscored the need to adopt a multi
    dimensional endeavour involving diverse
    scientific, engineering, financial and social
    processes the need to adopt multi disciplinary
    and multi sectoral approach and incorporation of
    risk reduction in the developmental plans and
    strategies.
  • Thereafter, the Government of India brought
    about a paradigm shift in the approach to
    disaster management. The new approach proceeds
    from the conviction that development cannot be
    sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built
    into the development process.

6
  • Another corner stone of the approach is that
    mitigation has to be multi-disciplinary spanning
    across all sectors of development. The new policy
    also emanated from the belief that investments in
    mitigation are much more cost effective than
    expenditure on relief and rehabilitation.
  • The Government of India, in recognition of the
    importance of Disaster Management as a national
    priority, had set up a High-Powered Committee in
    August 1999 and also a national committee after
    the Gujarat earthquake, for making
    recommendations on the preparation of Disaster
    Management plans and suggestions for effective
    mitigation mechanisms.

7
  • The Tenth Five-Year Plan Document also had, for
    the first time, a detailed chapter on Disaster
    Management. Similarly, the Twelfth Finance
    Commission was also mandated to review the
    financial arrangements for Disaster Management.
  • Finally, on 23 December 2005, the Government of
    India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which
    envisaged the creation of the National Disaster
    Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime
    Minister, and State Disaster Management
    Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief
    Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic
    and integrated approach to Disaster Management in
    India.

8
  • Structure The mandate for NDMA is to
    build a safe and disaster-resilient India by
    developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster
    and technology-driven strategy for DM. This is to
    be achieved through a culture of prevention,
    mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt
    and efficient response at the time of disasters.
    The entire process will centre-stage the
    community and will be provided momentum and
    sustenance through the collective efforts of all
    government agencies and Non-Governmental
    Organizations.

9
  • Essentially, the role of NDMA is to prepare
    guidelines for mitigation and prevention of
    different disasters, create a pool of National
    Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to help in rescue
    operations and create an infrastructure for
    awareness and training in the field of disaster
    management.
  • A force created so far constitutes eight
    battalions, two each from the BSF, CRPF, CISF and
    ITBP. Each battalion provides 18 self-contained
    specialist search and rescue teams of 45
    personnel each including engineers, technicians,
    electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics.
    The total strength of each battalion is
    approximately 1,158.

10
  • These have been located at different locations
    in the country based on the vulnerability profile
    to cut down the response time for their
    deployment. During the preparedness period/in a
    threatening disaster situation, proactive
    deployment of these forces is to be carried out
    by the NDMA in consultation with state
    authorities.
  • The actual immediate rescue and
    damage control measures have to be taken by
    different agencies and as a follow up,
    rehabilitation measures are taken by yet another
    agency. For man made disasters, Crisis Groups at
    central, state, district and local levels had
    been set up much earlier. However, though the
    head is invariably a common person, the members
    are different for natural and man made disasters.

11
  • Problems There are two categories under
    which various problems can be put. One, that are
    common to all disasters and two, the ones
    peculiar to a particular disaster.
  • Improved disaster prevention and preparedness
    requires a greater awareness of how disasters
    arise, and an expanded set of response options.
    With very low literacy rate coupled with extreme
    poverty of almost half the population- specially
    those living in vulnerable areas- it becomes
    difficult to create a level of awareness required
    for effective implementation of necessary
    measures.

12
  • There are problems related to poor infrastructure
    in practically every component of disaster
    management. Large parts in our country are not
    easily accessible.
  • The recent earthquake of 6.8 magnitude on
    Ritcher scale in North Sikkim had resulted in a
    large number of fatalities and wide spread damage
    to buildings and roads. The immediate relief
    which is most essential to mitigate and control
    the damage could not be made available
    immediately. The specialized National Disaster
    Response Force could not reach the site for more
    than 24 hours after the happening.

13
  • The reason was that the only road connecting
    Sikkim to other parts had been blocked due to a
    number of land slides (due to earthquake). There
    is no rail or air connection with Sikkim. In fact
    the entire North East parts of India have very
    poor and vulnerable connectivity to other parts.
    Main reasons can be attributed to political set
    up. The allocation of resources and adequate
    funds to any part of the country are largely
    dependent on the size of the population living in
    the region. Since entire North East states have
    very low population density, the allocations are
    not enough to build the necessary infra
    structure.

14
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15
  • Shortage of medical facilities for our population
    even in normal times can be gauged from the fact
    that even in bigger cities, the renowned
    hospitals are accommodating 2 patients on one
    bed. In such a scenario, planning for medical
    relief during time of a disaster becomes very
    difficult.
  • Communication systems in India have improved
    vastly during the last decade but even now, a
    large part of our country does not have means to
    receive information during the time of a disaster
    as either there is no network or the people are
    so poor that they do not have access to radios.

16
  • Most of the rescue, control and relief operations
    are in the hands of Government officials who
    practically do not have any accountability.
    Unfortunately, a general perception is that a
    large percentage of them are neither efficient
    nor have a high integrity resulting in inadequate
    and timely response.
  • Then there are problems of insufficient funds and
    efficient utilization of the limited resources.
  • In view of the complexities and diversities of
    the disaster management, concrete, effective and
    practicable policy is needed for which political
    commitment and a pragmatic policy formulation is
    very necessary.

17
  • Urban Flooding Till a few years ago, all
    floods were believed to have common reasons and
    hence a common approach. However, Mumbai floods
    of July 2005 turned out to be an eye-opener.
  • It was realized that the causes of urban flooding
    are different and so also are the strategies to
    deal with them. Urbanisation 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, sometimes in a
    matter of minutes.
  • In case of Mumbai floods, a key reason was that
    the effective capacity of a natural water body,
    Mithi Nadi, through which the rain water drains
    into sea, was said to be reduced significantly
    due to development of Bandra Kurla commercial
    area as also a large slum development.

18
  • Earthquakes There are indications that
    areas hitherto considered safe from earthquakes
    are not all that safe. This indicates that the
    built environment in the country is extremely
    fragile and our ability to prepare ourselves and
    effectively respond to earthquakes is inadequate.
    Though all new buildings are required to comply
    earthquake resistant building codes and town
    planning byelaws, but a very large percentage of
    old buildings are not only highly vulnerable
    because of old and poor maintenance but also due
    to high occupation density in these buildings.
  • Even in new structures, inadequate monitoring
    and enforcement of earthquake-resistant building
    codes and town planning bye-laws result into
    serious contraventions.

19
  • Cyclones A long coastline of about
    7,516 km of flat coastal terrain, high population
    density, geographical location and physiological
    features of our coastal areas makes India,
    extremely vulnerable to cyclones and its
    associated hazards like storm tide, high velocity
    wind and heavy rains.
  • Though the frequency of Tropical Cyclones
    covering the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea is
    the least in the world (7 of the global total),
    their impact on the east coast of India is
    relatively more devastating. An estimated 400
    million people, are vulnerable to cyclone related
    hazards. Climate change and its resultant
    sea-level rise can significantly increase the
    vulnerability of the coastal population.

20
  • Landslides Landslides are one of the
    natural hazards that affect at least 15 per cent
    of the land area of our countryan area which
    exceeds 0.49 million km2. Landslides of different
    types are frequent in geodynamically active
    domains in the Himalayan and Arakan-Yoma belt of
    the North-Eastern parts of the country as well as
    in the relatively stable domains of the Meghalaya
    Plateau, Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills.
  • In all, 22 states and parts of the Union
    Territory of Pudducherry and Andaman Nicobar
    Islands are affected by this hazard. The
    phenomenon of landslides is pronounced during the
    monsoon period.

21
  • The phenomenon of landslides is pronounced during
    the monsoon period. Very little preventive work
    has been carried out till now in this area. Thus,
    every time a major land slide occurs, its
    intensity becomes severe. Land slide risks have
    increased because of illegal deforestation that
    is rampant due mainly to wide spread corruption.
  • At the end I would say that in
    spite of the enormous obstacles, constraints and
    limitations, India has made a rapid progress in
    meeting the challenges of all types of disasters.
    The coming decade should take our country at par
    with developed nations as far as disaster
    management is concerned.

22
  • Thank you.
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