Disaster Prevention and Mitigation


By
Dr.N.Subburaj
Principal
Padmavani Arts & Science College for Women
Salem-636011, Tamil Nadu
P.Muthukumar
Principal
K.S. College of  Education for Women
Salem-636011, Tamil Nadu
 


Introduction

Natural calamities, of one description or the other, affect nations all over the world. Because of the large geographical size of the country, India often faces natural calamities like floods, cyclones and drought occurring fairly frequently in different parts of the country. At times, the same area is subjected to floods and drought situation in successive seasons or years. While not all natural calamities can be predicted and prevented, a state of preparedness and ability to respond quickly to a natural calamity can considerably mitigate loss of life and property and the human suffering and restore normalcy at the earliest. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that a plan of action for dealing with contingencies that arise in the wake of natural calamities is formulated and periodically updated.

Types of Natural Calamities

Different natural, calamities can be distinguished from each other in terms of their nature and extent of their impact. Calamities like earthquakes, hailstorms, avalanches, landslides, etc. occur quite suddenly but they are restricted in their impact in terms of time and space. Similarly, though floods and cyclones occur with some element of warning yet their occurrence is confined in duration. Drought, on the other hand, spans over a much longer time-frame and its adverse impact on the economic activities and life of an area is of a more lasting nature. The measures required to meet the threats posed by different calamities, therefore, differ considerably in terms of disaster preparedness and amelioration of the economic and social life of the affected people.

Impact of Calamities

The social, economic and health consequences of different types of disasters are indicated in Table 1.

S.
No.

Consequences

NATURAL CALAMITIES

Earth- Quake

Cyclone

Flood

Fire

Drought/ Famine

1.

Loss of life

X

X

X

X

 

2.

Injury

X

X

X

X

X

3.

Epidemiological threat

 

X

X

 

 

4.

Loss of crops

 

X

X

 

X

5.

Loss of housing

X

X

X

X

 

6.

Damage to infrastructure

X

X

X

X

 

7.

Disruption of communications

X

X

X

X

 

8.

Disruption of transport

X

X

X

X

 

9.

Panic

X

X

X

X

 

10.

Looting

X

X

X

X

 

11.

Breakdown of social order

X

X

X

 

 

12.

Short-term migrations

 

 

X

  

X

13.

Permanent migration

  

  

  

  

#

14.

Loss of Industrial production

X

X

X

X

#

15.

Loss of Business

X

X

X

X

#

16

Distruption of marketing systems

X

X

X

X

#


LEGEND:   X - Direct Consequences, # - Secondary Consequences

The Yokohama Strategy

The Yokohama message emanating from the international decade for natural disaster reduction in May 1994 underlined the need for an emphatic shift in the strategy for disaster mitigation.  It was inter-alia stressed that disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and relief are four elements which contribute to and gain, from the implementation of the sustainable development policies.  These elements along with environmental protection and sustainable development, are closely inter related.  Therefore, nations should incorporate them in their development plans and ensure efficient follow up measures at the community, sub-regional, regional, national and international levels.  The Yokohama Strategy also emphasized that disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness are better than disaster response in achieving the goals and objectives of vulnerability reduction.  Disaster response alone is not sufficient as it yields only temporary results at a very high cost.  Prevention and mitigation contribute to lasting improvement in safety and are essential to integrated disaster management.

Disaster and Government Plan

The Finance Commission makes recommendations with regard to devolution of funds between the Central Government and State Governments as also outlays for relief and rehabilitation.  The earlier Finance Commissions were mandated to look at relief and rehabilitation.  The Terms of Reference of the Twelfth Finance Commission have been changed and the Finance Commission has been mandated to look at the requirements for mitigation and prevention apart from its existing mandate of looking at relief and rehabilitation.  A Memorandum has been submitted to the Twelfth Finance Commission after consultation with States.  The Memorandum proposes a Mitigation Fund. 

To evolve both short-term and long-term strategy for flood management/erosion control, Government of India have recently constituted a Central Task Force under the Chairmenship of Chairman, Central Water Commission.  The Task Force will examine causes of the problem of recurring floods and erosion in States and region prone to flood and erosion; and suggest short-term and long-term measures.  

Flood preparedness and response

In order to respond effectively to floods, Ministry of Home Affairs have initiated National Disaster Risk Management Programme in all the flood-prone States. Assistance is being provided to the States to draw up disaster management plans at the State, District, Block/Taluka and Village levels. Awareness generation campaigns to sensitize all the stakeholders on the need for flood preparedness and mitigation measures. Elected representatives and officials are being trained in flood disaster management under the programme. Bihar Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh are among the 17 multi-hazard prone States where this programme is being implemented with UNDP. USAID and European Commission.  

Mainstreaming Mitigation in Rural Development Schemes

Rural housing  and  community assets  for vulnerable  sections of the population are created at a fairly large scale  by the Ministry  of Rural Development under the Indira  Awas Yojna(IAY) and Sampooran Grameen  Rojgar Yojna(SGRY).  About 250 thousand small but compact housing units are constructed every year, besides community assets such as community centers, recreation centers, anganwadi centers etc.  Technology support is provided by about two hundred rural housing centres spread over the entire country.  The Ministry of Home Affairs is working with the Ministry of Rural Development for changing the guidelines so that the houses constructed under IAY or school buildings/community buildings constructed under SGRY are earthquake/cyclone/flood resistant; as also that the schemes addressing mitigation are given priority under SGRY.  Ministry of Rural Development are carrying out an exercise for this purpose. This initiative is expected to go a long way in popularization of seismically safe construction at village/block level .

Awareness generation

Recognizing that awareness about vulnerabilities is a sine qua non for inducing a mindset of disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, the Government has initiated a nation-wide awareness generation campaign as part of its overall disaster risk management strategy. In order to devise an effective and holistic campaign, a steering committee for mass media campaign has been constituted at the national level with due representation of experts from diverse streams of communication. The Committee has formulated a campaign strategy aimed at changing peoples' perception of natural hazards and has consulted the agencies and experts associated with advertising and media to instill a culture of safety against natural hazards.

Apart from the use of print and electronic media, it is proposed to utilize places with high public visibility viz. hospitals, schools, railway stations and bus terminals, airports and post offices, commercial complexes and municipality offices etc. to make people aware of their vulnerabilities and promote creation of a safe living environment.

A novel method being tried is the use of government stationery viz. postal letters, bank stationery, railway tickets, airline boarding cards and tickets etc. for disseminating the message of disaster risk reduction. Slogans and messages for this purpose have already been developed and have been communicated to concerned Ministries/agencies for printing and dissemination. The mass media campaign will help build the knowledge, attitude and skills of the people in vulnerability reduction and sustainable disaster risk management measures.

Conclusion

The various prevention and mitigation measures outlined above are aimed at building up the capabilities of the communities, voluntary organizations and Government functionaries at all levels. Particular stress is being laid on ensuring that these measures are institutionalized considering the vast population and the geographical area of the country. This is a major task being undertaken by the Government to put in place mitigation measures for vulnerability reduction. This is just a beginning. The ultimate goal is to make prevention and mitigation a part of normal day-to-day life. The above mentioned initiatives will be put in place and information disseminated over a period of five to eight years. We have a firm conviction that with these measures in place, we could say with confidence that disasters like Orissa cyclone and Bhuj earthquake will not be allowed to recur in this country; at least not at the cost, which the country has paid in these two disasters in terms of human lives, livestock, loss of property and means of livelihood.  

REFERENCES:

1.Dr.B.K.Sharma(1994), "Environmental Chemistry" , Goel  Pubilishing house,7th Edition, Meerut.

2. Shyam Divan and Armin Rorencranz (2002), "Environmental law and policy in India", Oxford University Press, New york, 3rd Edition, New Delhi.

3. Arcadio P.Sincero and Gregoria A Sincero (2002), "Environmental Engineering", Prentice Hall of India, 2nd Edition, New Delhi.

4. S.S. Dara,(2002), "A Text BooK of Environmental Chemistry and Pollution Control", S. Chand & company Ltd., 5 th Edition New Delhi.

5.Gilber.M. Masters,(2004), "Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science", Pearson Education, 2nd Edition, New Delhi.

6. R.Elarasan and M.K.Sasitharan(2003), "Unit operation Environmental Engineering", New age international  (p)Ltd., New Delhi.

7.Anilkumar De .,(1996), "Environmental Chemistry", New Age International (p) Ltd., New Delhi.

8. A.Kamala and D. Kanth Rao, "Environmental Engineering", Tata- Mc Graw- Hill Publishing Company Ltd., New Delhi.

9. Dr.Raman Sivakumar (2004), "Principles of Environmental  Science and Engineering", Vijay Nicole imprints(p) Ltd.,Chennai.

10. K.N. Duggal , (2000), "Elements of Environmental Engineering", S.Chand & Company Ltd.,

 5th Edition,New Delhi.

11. A.K.De ,(2002), "Environmental Chemistry", New age International Publishers, 4th Edition, New Delhi.

12. T.John Oral Bhaster and RVS.Ramana,(2004)," Principles of Environmental and Engineering", Basker Dutt Publications, 2nd Edition, Chennai.


DISASTER PREVENTION AND MITIGATION

ABSTRACT

Natural calamities, of one description or the other, affect nations all over the world. Because of the large geographical size of the country, India often faces natural calamities like floods, cyclones and drought occurring fairly frequently in different parts of the country. Different natural, calamities can be distinguished from each other in terms of their nature and extent of their impact. Calamities like earthquakes, hailstorms, avalanches, landslides, etc. occur quite suddenly but they are restricted in their impact in terms of time and space. The measures required to meet the threats posed by different calamities, therefore, differ considerably in terms of disaster preparedness and amelioration of the economic and social life of the affected people. The Yokohama strategy also emphasized that disaster prevention, mitigation and   preparedness are better than disaster response in achieving the goals and objectives of vulnerability reduction.  Disaster response alone is not sufficient as it yields only temporary results at a very high cost.  Prevention and mitigation contribute to lasting improvement in safety and are essential to integrated disaster management.

The Finance Commission makes recommendations with regard to devolution of funds between the Central Government and State Governments as also outlays for relief and rehabilitation. A Memorandum has been submitted to the Twelfth Finance Commission after consultation with States.  The Memorandum proposes a Mitigation Fund.  To evolve both short-term and long-term strategy for flood management/erosion control, Government of India have recently constituted a Central Task Force under the Chairmenship of Chairman, Central Water Commission.  The Task Force will examine causes of the problem of recurring floods and erosion in States and region prone to flood and erosion; and suggest short-term and long-term measures. Recognizing that awareness about vulnerabilities is a sine qua non for inducing a mindset of disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, the Government has initiated a nation-wide awareness generation campaign as part of its overall disaster risk management strategy. The various prevention and mitigation measures outlined are aimed at building up the capabilities of the communities, voluntary organizations and Government functionaries at all levels. Particular stress is being laid on ensuring that these measures are institutionalized considering the vast population and the geographical area of the country.
 


Dr.N.Subburaj
Principal
Padmavani Arts & Science College for Women
Salem-636011, Tamil Nadu
P.Muthukumar
Principal
K.S. College of  Education for Women
Salem-636011, Tamil Nadu
 

Source: E-mail September 9, 2012

          

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