Chapters :
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Disaster Management – 04

  • NDMA has taken an initiative on Earthquake Disaster Risk Indexing (EDRI) for 50 important cities and 1 District in Seismic Zone IV & V areas.
  • This kind of indexing will be helpful in comparing the overall risk across large number of cities or region and also in prioritization of cities to implement appropriate disaster mitigation measures.
  • NDMA through Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) has prepared Upgraded Earthquake Hazard Maps and Atlases for the country for better planning and policies.
  • Leveraging the technology of geographic information system (GIS), NDMA have taken up a project for disaster risk management by establishing GIS Server and creation of database to integrate data obtained from various stakeholders to increase disaster preparedness, mitigation, damage assessment, response and relief management efforts.
  • Under the National School Safety Programme (NSSP), 8600 schools (with 200 schools in 43 districts in 22 States/UTs falling seismic zones IV and V) have been selected for providing training on school safety and disaster preparedness.
  • The Aapdamitra scheme of NDMA has provision for training 6000 community volunteers in disaster response in 30 most flood prone districts (200 volunteers per district) in 25 States.
  • The government has set up National Crisis Management Committee and Crisis Management Group.
  • The state governments have set up state crisis management groups headed by chief secretaries, institutes of relief commissioners and state/district contingency plans.
  • The disaster management policy of the government stresses on forecasting and warning using advanced technologies, contingency agricultural planning to ensure availability of food grains, and preparedness and mitigation through specific programmes.
  • Project on deployment of Mobile Radiation Detection Systems (MRDS) to handle Radiological Hazards in Metros/Capital Cities/Big Cities in India to detect unclaimed radioactive materials/substances and save public from its hazardous effects.
  • Landslide Risk Mitigation Scheme (LRMS) envisages financial support for site specific Landslide Mitigation Projects recommended by landslide prone States, covering disaster prevention strategy, disaster mitigation and R&D in monitoring of critical Landslides thereby leading to the development of Early Warning System and Capacity Building initiatives. The Scheme is under preparation.
  • Core Group has been formed for Preparation of Guidelines to avert Boat Tragedies in India.

Disaster Management in India: Success stories

  • The Indian government’s “zero casualty” policy for cyclones and the pinpoint accuracy of the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) early warning system has helped reduce the possibility of deaths from cyclone Fani in Odisha.
  • India’s policy of minimising fatalities from cyclones has been proven by past performances as in cyclone Phailin in 2013, when famously the casualty rate was kept to as low as 45 despite the intensity of the storm.
  • In August 2010 during the flash floods due to cloudburst in Leh in Ladakh region by the Indian Army. The Army’s immediate search, rescue, and relief operations and mass casualty management effectively and efficiently mitigated the impact of flash floods, and restored normal life.
  • Bihar suffers from floods almost every year during the monsoon season, predominantly due to the Ganges and its tributaries. The State has successfully scaled up disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts since 2011.
  • Issues
  • There are significant gaps in preparedness on various aspects of risk management, particularly for catastrophic disasters like major earthquakes and floods.
  • Though all of India’s states have departments of disaster management or relief and rehabilitation, they are still poorly prepared to lend support in times of disasters, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
  • In a number of recent disasters, 2010 mudslides in Leh, Sikkim earthquake in 2011 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013, the level of preparedness was inadequate, leading to high levels of mortality and displacement of people.
  • Facilities such as emergency operations centres, emergency communications, and search and rescue teams are being made available but these systems and facilities need to be strengthened.
  • In India Disaster management is yet to be seen as an essential part of good governance and integral to development planning.
  • The preparedness at various levels are not people-oriented.
  • India’s capacity to manage disaster risk is challenged by its size and huge population. The country is likely to have the greatest exposure of any nation in the world to extreme weather and natural disasters by 2030.
  • The northeast region is most at risk from earthquakes and lacks seismically secure infrastructure and buildings. It is also vulnerable to landslides, floods and erosion.
  • Flooding on the country’s plains is a regular occurrence, and although communities are resilient, the intensity of floods has reduced their capacity to adapt.
  • The local adaptation efforts driven solely by communities are no longer sufficient and additional, scientifically planned adaptation is needed, which will require government support.
  • The division of responsibilities under the Disaster Management Act is not very clear, resulting in its poor implementation. There also exists an overlap between the implementing agencies
  • Intense public and media scrutiny after disasters automatically leads to a higher priority being given to response, rather than risk reduction.
  • Furthermore, where risk-reduction activities are described, State Disaster Management Plans (SDMPs) does not institutionalise accountability mechanisms to ensure that departments follow these considerations in their own planning.
  • As a result, risk-reduction activities are driven by schemes and external projects, rather than by guidelines in SDMPs.
  • Because risk-reduction needs are locations specific, this gap is an opportunity for stronger, locally led risk-reduction planning by Strengthening disaster risk management in India

Suggestions

  • A clearer demarcation of national and state-level responsibilities is needed, especially regarding who is responsible for risk-reduction activities.
  • It is vital for state disaster management authorities to focus on the continued capacity-building of district disaster management authorities and CSOs that are responsible for managing disaster risk.
  • Capacity-building should support the planning and implementation of actions across the full disaster management cycle.
  • There is a need to revise the SDMPs to include a much greater emphasis on risk reduction, rather than just preparedness and response.
  • Existing rules and regulations that impede the inclusion of measures for risk reduction need to be amended.
  • Build partnerships with and draw lessons from forerunner states such as Bihar and Gujarat on how to include risk reduction in plans more effectively.
  • Accountability mechanisms need to be specified. This will ensure that departments follow disaster risk-reduction considerations in their own development planning.
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