Disaster Management in India

Editorial

According to the statistics, 68% of India’s land is prone to drought, 60% to earthquakes, 12% to floods and 8% to cyclones, making India one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, affecting overall 85% of Indian land and more than 50 million people. There have been countless disasters both natural and man-made, where millions of lives have been lost before and since Indian Independence. There is nothing natural about the disasters, what can be considered natural is the ‘event’ not the ‘losses’.  It is surprising that yet India has not formulated the national plan for disaster management till date, according to the CAG Report of 2013. The Indian administration has been a little too late in recognizing the importance of a National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) except the State of Gujarat. 

Since 2005, though there have been achievements, there have also been major challenges. The present government has the opportunity to address many of these challenges. India is vulnerable to more than 30 different disasters taking a toll on the economic, social and human resource potential and affecting the growth, development, productivity and macro-economic performance in a long run. And it is to be noted that there is a strong link between vulnerability and capacity of the citizens. 

India has been the worst sufferer of Disasters and the most unforgettable Industrial disaster being the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Yet, the government has been a slow learner that disasters in India encompass acute events and their management is a continuous process and has to be managed through simultaneous activities and interventions rather than in a phased manner. Therefore, Disaster management is a part of good governance which includes active interactions among various stake holders like administrative machinery, citizen groups, formal and informal institutions.

Disasters are episodic but are recurrent. Preparedness is the key to the success of Disaster Management Plan and without citizens’ involvement and participation any effective plan is rendered ineffective. The ultimate mandate of any government is to protect the lives and properties of its citizens.  In this direction, there is a need for every citizen to be sensitized, educated and trained for any such eventuality. Citizens’ involvement and participation is one of the crucial factors for robust disaster preparedness and risk reduction. Though there have been successes in handling disasters in India like the one by Odisha Government, these just individual successes and not an institutional phenomenon. The government needs to make efforts to enhance understanding of disasters among public, educate and effectively institutionalize the disaster management plan and process. 

There is a need to enhance the role of Civil Defense in Disaster Management process and formulating an effective National Plan for Disaster Management. Even now, the communication systems at the local level haven’t been much developed. There are no Standard Operating Procedures for the deployment of National Disaster Response Force. There have been many cases where there has been a relief and rescue mobilization but by the time the teams reach the damage would have already been done. The latest example being the Beas River flooding that killed more than 2 dozens of people and the teams reached more than 12 hours after the incident.

Today, it is unequivocally accepted that disasters are controllable events and it is imperative not to act in isolation. What we need is integration and coordination of various crucial departments like Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Geological Survey of India (GSI) etc. We need to bolster our defenses against the fury of disasters and in this direction, by enabling the stationing of NDRF in every district. Instead of having disaster management task-force as a part of the Police Department or Home Guards we need to have a separate command centre with a principal secretary level officer heading the organization.

The present government has to take up the implementation of NDMP at the ground level seriously. The biggest challenge in this is also to motivate the real estate construction companies to also construct affordable range housing in conformity to disaster resistant standards. Today, it is mostly the high end buildings that are seismic resistant. Most people don’t die of earthquakes per say but due to the collapse of buildings in such an eventuality. Also, we have to change the way we look at the relief-response paradigm from being a brief and temporary process, as in most cases it is a prolonged process that dislocates people and renders them difficult from getting back to a normal life.

The recently announced “Smart Cities” by the Government of India needs to keep in mind the National Disaster Management Plan. Disaster response, recovery, rehabilitation, prevention, mitigation and preparedness- all need equal attention. Perhaps, involving each and every stakeholder in training and capacity building and forming community emergency response teams is the need of the hour.

Disaster Management in India


INCESSANT DISASTERS, VULNERABILITY AND COMMUNITY RESPONSE IN INDIA
Dr. Barkatullah Khan, Dr. Anshu and Dr. S. Fazal. D. Firdausi

India is a country of vast areal expanse and tremendous physiographic diversity. It is also the second most populated country of the world. Such geographic variability, combined with persistent anthropogenic interference has rendered people of the country, vulnerable to natural and human-made hazards. Vulnerability from disasters varies from one community to other, and in space. Psychological preparedness of a community also plays an important role in reducing disaster risk and vulnerability. Communities across the country have exhibited varied response in post-disasters situations, majority indulge in altruistic behavior, while few resort to anti-social activities.  

You need to subscribe

IMPORTANCE OF DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
Prof. P. C. Joshi and Dr. Prashant Khattri

Disasters are occurring globally. Developed as well as developing countries, are being affected by the catastrophic consequences of both natural and human-made disasters. According to the CRED, in 2013 alone the total number of natural disasters amount to around 334 events worldwide causing 22,616 deaths and around 97 million affected people.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER MANAGEMENT- THE CRY OF THE DAY
Professor Manas Chakrabarty and Ruchita Chakraborty

Thus we may say at the conclusion that disasters must be there. We cannot avoid disaster so long we are living on the lap of the nature and in this regard, we have no way out. Since we have to live in the environment of nature, we have to be careful about the disasters, whether it is natural or ma made. A proper management of disasters is one of the most important tasks left before the mankind. Naturally, it becomes pertinent to be careful about the management of disasters.  If we are successful in chalking out a proper scientific management plan, then it is quite possible to minimise the effects of disaster which is the cry of the present day and the mankind is confronted with.

You need to subscribe

MITIGATING THE RISK OF CLIMATE CHANGE INDUCED DISASTERS IN ARID REGION OF INDIA
Dr. R.B. Singh and Ajay Kumar

Climate change is a reality, which the world as well as the region is experiencing in present. Vulnerability to climate change differs among different sections of society and sectors of economy. Climate change is the greatest challenge before the global society, impacting the ecology, economy and society in several ways. Changes related to the climate of Western Rajasthan are over and above the natural climate variability prevailing in this area.

You need to subscribe

PAKISTAN: THREATS TO FISSILE MATERIALS AND ISSUE OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Dr. Mohammed Badrul Alam

Like in any nuclear weapon state, multiple vulnerabilities exist in a nuclear weapons complex. In the case of Pakistan, it is possible that groups or individuals may violate security rules for a variety of reasons, including profit making, settling a vendetta, or religious or ideological motives.

You need to subscribe

THE DARKER ASPECTS OF MAN MADE DISASTERS
Professor Gautam K. Kshatriya and P. Subramanian

The ugly face of disasters – natural as well as man-made shows up occasionally to disrupt the normal life of man, when it is least expected.  The Disaster Management Plan of different countries, to a certain extent assures almost total preparedness for natural disasters.

 

You need to subscribe

A CRITICALANALYSIS OF COMMUNITY BASED DISASTER MANAGEMENT (CBDM) IN INDIA- SOME REFLECTIONS
Dr. Pradip kumar Parida

This paper explains the situation of post disaster scenario and the community’s preparedness in general and various components of all the development programmes carried out by various departments of centre and states. The immediate aftermath of disaster, that is rescue and relief operation is no doubt necessary to restore the lives to normalcy.

You need to subscribe

UTTARAKHAND DISASTER & PHAILIN: TWO EXTREMES OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Anuj Tiwari

India witnessed two consecutive disasters within a time span of few months last year. While it was a total devastation in case of Uttarakhand disaster, the management of Cyclone created a history. Both these disasters will be remembered for long but for different reasons, opposite to each other. In case of Uttarakhand, there was a total failure of the system from preparedness to response and rescue phase of disaster management cycle, whereas Government of Odisha and other stakeholder agencies created a benchmark by managing cyclone Phailin, which was similar in intensity to the Super Cyclone of 1999, and limiting the loss of lives to less than 20.

You need to subscribe

ROLE OF STATE AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT REHABILITATION IN UTTARAKHAND KEDARNATH DISASTER
Dr. Chanchal Kumar

A more detailed assessment of the disaster management undertaken will no doubt be done by authorities at both State and Central levels later, both so as to identify problem areas and so as to put in place adequate strategies, capabilities and institutional mechanisms to be able to cope better with the next calamity. Hopefully, the considered opinions of experts, academics, social organizations, panchayats representatives and others would also be taken on board.

You need to subscribe

MANAGEMENT OF CYCLONE PHAILIN AND ITS AFTERMATH : ROLE OF ODISHA GOVERNMENT
Dr. Sabita Harichandan

Despite lapses and limitations, actions of Odisha government based on holistic approach deserve acclamation and emulation by other countries. It earned reputation and appreciation inside and outside the country. The most important contributing factor for the success was evacuation of nearly one million people well in advance, which was unprecedented in the history of Odisha.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN INDIA- A CASE STUDY OF RECENT CYCLONE PHAILIN IN ODISHA
Roshni Kujur

The better way to manage the crises would have been if the government would have stocked the ration before Phailin stuck in cyclone shelters or government school buildings. The local panchayats, whose secretary is a government official, should have been tasked with the job of providing meals to the cyclone hit victims. Kitchens in schools and anganwadi centers should have been used to provide cooked meals.

You need to subscribe

CRITICALLY EXAMINING THE ROLE GOVERNMENT AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT: LESSONS FROM INDIA
Dr. Pranaya Kumar Parida & Ms. Smita Raut

This paper tries to examine the Disaster Management Act of Government of India, various policies to address disaster and preparedness for disaster and role of Government vs. Non- Governmental Organizations, particularly CBOs and funding agencies, in the aftermath of disaster. As matter of fact disaster preparedness has to go to the roots of the community as they are the people eventually facing the consequences of disaster at the end of the day.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND HIGHER EDUCATION
Snigdha Vishnoi and R. Nonibala Devi

The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, should formulate a Standing Committee at the national level to effectively implement and monitor the 12th Plan recommendations on Disaster Management in Higher Education.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER MANAGEMENT - CREATING AWARENESS IN CHILDREN
Nibhanapudi Suguna

During any natural disaster, it is the children who suffer the most. Fire tragedies, earthquakes and floods are ever present threats that take thousands of lives every year. Children, especially in schools are the most vulnerable group during any disaster. Be it the 2001 Bhuj earthquake or the fire tragedies of Kumbakonam and Dabwali, in each incident it was children who suffered the most.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER MITIGATION EDUCATION AND THE ROLE OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT: LESSON FROM JAPAN
Dr. Ranjana Mukhopadhyaya

It can be said that through education a vulnerable community can be transformed into a much safer disaster resilient community. Therefore, the role of education in general and the schools in particular, is very important as they provide the much-needed link to the wider community. The disaster mitigation education imparted in the schools could increases the level of awareness of the people and help in the capacity building of the community to deal with disasters.

You need to subscribe

Book Review
Dr. R.B.Singh

The book is well-written and with the reference to disaster and management in mind it can satisfy its reader a great deal. It would provide valuable insights to policy makers in the third world who are confronted with the twin crisis on environment and development as well as researchers who want to find out novel ways to deal with tsunami or other natural disaster crises.

You need to subscribe

DISASTERS AND PSYCHO-SOCIAL APPROACH
Urfat Anjem Mir

There is a need to recognise the disasters as social phenomenon, to appreciate the cultural strengths, of community social support, coping strategies, resilience, ways of grief sharing and reverting back to normal state (whichever way that may be locally defined). Not all the responsibility of disaster mitigation and response mechanism can be put on the state agencies, and surely this cannot be achieved without making the community a stakeholder in this process.

You need to subscribe

HEALTH IMPACT OF DISASTER: A CASE OF WOMEN’S HEALTH IN POST KOSI FLOOD
Dr. Minakshi

The study provides valuable information on the general and reproductive health problems of survivors of Kosi flood disaster. These health problems were strongly associated with traumatic experiences during and after the disaster Poverty, malnutrition, access to health care facilities and power inequalities typical of the role of women results into poor reproductive health among women.

You need to subscribe

DISASTER RISK REDUCTION THROUGH INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE: A CASE OF MISHING COMMUNITY ON MAJULI ISLAND, ASSAM
Sunanda Dey

Disaster management and indigenous risk reduction measures are two terms which have found a new relation in recent past. Studies done in the South Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) indicate that despite the influx of outside aid, indigenous communities still show considerable resilience to natural disasters.

You need to subscribe

MANAGING DISASTERS: ROLE OF INDIAN NAVY IN HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND DISASTER RELIEF OPERATIONS
Sourabh Jyoti Sharma

Since the end of the Cold War, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) have emerged as important missions for major militaries around the world. The HADR missions that were once largely left to such organizations like the International Red Cross Society have now become an indispensable part of the security agenda of nations having significant military capabilities.

You need to subscribe