Disaster Management (DAMP)
- What are the factors contributing to the high occurrence of floods in India? Suggest measures to effectively manage and mitigate the floods.
- Identify the possible risk associated with development projects in the Himalayan region and suggest measures to minimize these risks.
- Discuss the role of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in building resilience and reducing the impact of natural disasters in India.
- Assess the importance of establishing a resilient disaster management infrastructure in India that can proficiently address the distinct challenges posed by heat waves.
- The Disaster Management Plan of Ministry of Panchayati Raj (DMP–MoPR) aims to enhance grassroots disaster resilience. Discuss the rationale for its formulation and highlight key components of the plan.
- Discuss the role of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in the context of disaster risk reduction.
- Examine the role of climate change in intensifying cyclonic activity in the Indian Ocean and its implications for disaster preparedness. Suggest measures including the guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for enhancing disaster readiness.
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Flood refers to a natural disaster characterized by the overflowing of water onto land areas that are usually dry. It occurs when the volume of water in rivers, lakes, or other water bodies exceeds their carrying capacity, leading to the inundation of surrounding areas. As per Rashtriya Barh Aayog (National Flood Commission), 23 out of 35 states and union territories in the country are subject to floods and recognized 40 million hectares of the terrestrial region as flood prone. Assam, West Bengal and Bihar are amongst the high flood-prone states of India.
Factors contributing to floods in India:
- Monsoon Rainfall: Excessive and prolonged rainfall can result in the swelling of rivers and subsequent
flooding. For example, the devastating floods in Kerala in 2018 were caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains.
- Himalayan Rivers: The 2013 Uttarakhand floods, triggered by heavy rainfall in the region, resulted in
significant damage and loss of lives.
- Cyclones and Tropical Storms: Coastal regions of India are vulnerable to cyclones and tropical storms, which can bring heavy rainfall and storm surges leading to coastal flooding. For instance, Cyclone Fani in 2019 caused flooding in parts of Odisha and West Bengal.
- River Interlinking and Dam Failures: Inadequate maintenance, structural failures, or mismanagement of dam operations can result in sudden releases of water, causing downstream flooding. The breach of the Machhu Dam in Gujarat in 1979 caused catastrophic flooding in the town of Morbi.
- Urbanization and Encroachments: Cities like Mumbai and Chennai have experienced severe flooding due to unplanned urban expansion and obstruction of natural drainage channels.
Climate Change: Changing climate conditions can lead to more intense rainfall and subsequent flooding. Examples include the floods in Chennai in 2015 and in Bihar in 2020, which were attributed to heavy rainfall associated with climate change.
Measures to mitigate the floods:
- Flood Forecasting and Early Warning Systems: The Central Water Commission’s flood forecasting network, supported by advanced technologies and river gauging stations, proved effective during the 2019 Kerala floods and 2020 Assam floods, with timely alerts disseminated through mobile networks.
- Improved Infrastructure and Drainage Systems: Constructing reservoirs, dams, and well-designed drainage systems have aided water management during heavy rainfall, as seen in the Bhakra-Nangal Dam in Himachal Pradesh and the Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, mitigating downstream flooding.
- Afforestation and Watershed Management: Promotion of afforestation and watershed management, including tree plantation along riverbanks, has reduced flood intensity, as evidenced by the successful Kosi River Valley Afforestation Project in Bihar and the Yamuna Action Plan in Delhi.
- Resilient Infrastructure Design: The Sabarmati Riverfront Development project in Ahmedabad constructed flood-resistant infrastructure, including elevated walkways and flood protection walls, ensuring resilience during floods.
- Community Awareness and Preparedness: During cyclones like Phailin in 2013 and Fani in 2019, the early warning system and community awareness played a crucial role in minimizing casualties and ensuring timely evacuations.
- International Cooperation and Data Sharing: The Brahmaputra River Information and Flood Management System (BRIFMS) was established as a joint initiative between India and China to exchange hydrological data during the monsoon season.
To minimize the damage caused by floods, flood control and management planning along with potential impact of climate change need to be integrated into development planning for the country.
The fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem was recently highlighted by incidents of land slide in Himachal Pradesh and land sinking in Joshi math. Such a crisis has generated intense debate on aspects of development and environmental sustainability in the region.
The construction of development projects in the Himalayan region poses following potential risks:
1. Ecological Impact:
- Deforestation: Large-scale projects often require clearing vast areas of forest and leading to habitat loss and biodiversity depletion.
Ø E.g., Construction of roads and hydropower projects in Uttarakhand has resulted in significant deforestation, negatively impacting wildlife populations.
- Soil Erosion: Improper construction practices can lead to soil erosion, particularly in hilly terrains resulting in landslides, reduced soil fertility, and downstream sedimentation.
Ø E.g., Siltation of rivers will lead to flooding during rainfall.
- Glacial Melting: Climate change-induced global warming has accelerated glacial melting, affecting water availability downstream.
Ø E.g., the Gangotri glacier is receding at a rate of 21.5 meters per year.
- Increased Natural Disasters: Developmental Projects can exacerbate natural disasters like floods, landslides risk by altering natural drainage patterns or destabilizing slopes.
Ø E.g., the 2015 Nepal earthquake caused widespread destruction, and the haphazard construction practices in urban areas amplified the impact.
2. Socioeconomic Risk:
- Displacement of Communities: Development projects often involve the displacement of local communities, leading to the loss of livelihoods, cultural heritage, economic hardships and social cohesion.
Ø For example, the construction of Tehri Dam, displaced thousands of people.
3. Geological Risk:
- Landslides and Avalanches: Construction activities can trigger or worsen landslides and avalanche hazards, endangering lives and infrastructure.
Ø E.g., The 2017 landslide in the Rishi Ganga Valley in Uttarakhand caused by construction activities.
- Seismic Vulnerability: Poorly planned construction projects can increase vulnerability to seismic events, endangering lives and infrastructure.
Ø The devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake resulted in over 8,000 deaths and significant damage to buildings and infrastructure.
Measures to mitigate these risks:
- Reforestation and Afforestation: Implement reforestation programs to restore and conserve forest cover. E.g., National Afforestation Programme, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities.
- Sustainable Construction Practices: Encourage the use of environmentally friendly construction techniques and materials that minimize deforestation and soil erosion. E.g., implementing recommendations of National Building Code 2005, Central Building Research Institute-Roorkee, etc which talks about making buildings in disaster prone areas.
- Glacier Monitoring and Research: Establish monitoring systems to track glacial retreat and understand its impact on water resources. E.g., the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem.
- Disaster Preparedness and Early Warning Systems: Invest in robust disaster management systems, including early warning systems, to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
- Seismic Safety Standards: Enforce strict adherence to seismic safety codes and regulations during project design and construction.
To ensure sustainable development in the Himalayan region, governments and stakeholders must take steps tmitigate the risks of construction projects, such as preserving the environment, promoting social wellbeing, and protecting against geological hazards and climate change.
Around 59 per cent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity; over 12 percent of its land is prone to floods and river erosion; close to 5,700 km of the 7,516 km long coastline is vulnerable to cyclones and tsunamis; 68 per cent of the cultivable area is vulnerable to drought and hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches. In this context, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) gains significance in a disaster-prone country like India. DRR is that part of the broader Disaster Management Cycle that aims to reduce the risks of disaster occurrence through enhancing the resilience of communities and societies to natural and human-made disasters through risk assessment, preparedness, mitigation, and capacity-building efforts.
Need for DRR in India:
- Disproportionate effects on developing countries: Mortality and economic losses from disasters become disproportionately higher for developing countries like India owing to mitigation and recovery costs bearing a greater proportion of the country’s resources.
- High Incidence: India ranks among the top three countries in the world that bore the maximum brunt of natural disasters in recent years.
- High Impact on Human Life: As per UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, around 79,732 people lost their lives, and 108 crore people were affected in 321 incidents of natural disasters in India between 2000-2019.
- Huge Economic Costs: As per the Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight Report, the global economy suffered a loss of $232 billion due to natural disasters in 2019, out of which, India’s losses form a sizable part.
Significance of DRR for India:
- Promotes better understanding of disaster risk: Systematic study and analysis of disaster risk and vulnerabilities shall help in better understanding of risk profile of any marked area.
- Strengthens disaster management governance: It shall promote more effective integration of disaster risk knowledge into sustainable development policies, planning and programming at all levels of governance.
- Encourages investment in disaster reduction for resilience: By advocating for development and strengthening of institutions and mechanisms at all levels, especially community level, it can contribute to building disaster resilience.
- Enhances disaster preparedness: It involves systematic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into the design and implementation of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery programs in the reconstruction of affected communities.
India has aligned its National Disaster Management Plan with the approaches promoted globally by the United Nations, in particular the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. In addition, India recently adopted the Prime Minister’s ten-point agenda on Disaster Risk Reduction in India.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a heatwave is said to occur when the average maximum temperature is 4.5-6.4º C above the long-term average (or above 40º C in the plains, 30º C in hilly areas, or 37º C in coastal areas).
Heatwaves in India are caused by rapid urbanization, leading to the urban heat island effect, as well as climate change, which raises temperatures and alters weather patterns. Delayed or weak monsoons, deforestation, land use changes, air pollution, and human activities further contribute to the intensity and frequency of heatwaves.
Impact of Heatwaves:
- Health risks: dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes leading to high mortality both in humans and animals. It also leads to Overburdened healthcare systems. In 2022, over 200 people died due to a heatwave in Maharashtra.
- Reduced productivity and economic losses in agriculture and industry for example the Indian economy lost $70 billion due to heatwaves in 2019.
- Increased demand for electricity leading to power cuts and infrastructure failures e.g., In 2021, Chennai experienced power cuts for several hours due to high demand during a heatwave.
- Water scarcity and droughts due to decreased rainfall and increased evaporation such as India faced severe droughts in 2019 and 2021 due to heatwaves.
- Due to dry conditions, there is an increased risk of wildfires and other natural disasters. In 2022, Uttarakhand faced a massive forest fire during a heatwave.
Measures for robust infrastructure:
- Improved urban planning and design to reduce the urban heat island effect such as Ahmedabad implemented a Heat Action Plan in 2013.
- Awareness campaigns to educate the public on the risks and preventive measures for instance Kerala launched a Heatwave Awareness Campaign in 2021.
- Infrastructure improvements to ensure reliable power supply and prevent blackouts example, Mumbai introduced a smart grid system in 2019.
- Expansion of healthcare facilities and provision of adequate medical supplies for e.g., In 2020, Delhi converted wedding halls into temporary hospitals to treat heat-related illnesses.
- Early warning systems and heatwave action plans at the national and state levels.
- Afforestation and restoration of degraded land to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves for example in 2021, the Indian government launched the Green India Mission to increase forest cover.
- Establishing cooling centres and shelters equipped with adequate resources can provide relief for those without access to air conditioning or proper housing during heat waves.
- Continuous research and development initiatives can lead to improved heat wave prediction models, innovative cooling technologies, and adaptive measures to enhance resilience.
Given India’s exposure to heat waves resulting from climate variations and El Nino, it is crucial to prioritize the development of a strong disaster management infrastructure in alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Emphasizing post disaster sustainability (Building Better Back) is essential for building resilience against climate change.
Q: The Disaster Management Plan of Ministry of Panchayati Raj (DMP–MoPR) aims to enhance grassroots disaster resilience. Discuss the rationale for its formulation and highlight key components of the plan. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
Due to India’s diverse geography and vulnerability to disaster, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has formulated the Disaster Management Plan to empower local communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions in reducing vulnerabilities and promoting resilience to natural and human-made disasters. The aim is to build disaster resilience at the grassroots level among the Panchayats and establish a framework to align the disaster management measures in rural areas to that of the National Disaster Management Authority.
Rationale behind Disaster Management Plan at the panchayat level:
- Institutional proximity and capacity: PRIs have proximity and capacity to involve people and make them prepared for countering disasters by involving them in all possible preventive and protective activities so that the impact of the disasters is mitigated.
- Ensure Participatory Planning Process: The plan promotes participatory disaster management through GPDP, enabling community-based approaches and ushering in a new era of proactive disaster management in India.
- People participation is crucial for identification of vulnerable groups and extent of their vulnerability as well as response measures such as reconstruction of damaged houses, crop protection measures, etc.
- Social mobilization for traditional wisdom: PRIs can act as catalysts to the social mobilisation process and tap the traditional wisdom of the local communities to complement the modern practices in disaster mitigation efforts.
- Integration of all players: PRIs play a crucial leadership role in integrating all players like Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based organisations (CBOs), engaged in grassroots development activities, fostering collaboration for holistic progress.
DMP-MoPR fosters grassroots disaster resilience culture through key components:
- It incorporates many innovations in addition to following Disaster Management Act 2005, National Disaster Management Policy 2009, and guidelines issued by National Disaster Management Authority.
- It covers areas such as:
Ø Institutional arrangement for Disaster Management.
Ø Hazard Risk, Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis; Coherence of Disaster Risk Management across Resilient Development and Climate Change Action.
Ø Disaster Specific Preventive and Mitigation Measures-Responsibility Framework.
Ø Mainstreaming of Community Based Disaster Management Plan of Villages and Panchayats.
The convergent and collective actions of DMP–MoPR to envision, plan and implement community-based disaster management plans, would be a game changer for our country in managing disasters comprehensively.
The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) was launched by India at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Its aims are to create Disaster-resilient infrastructure for creating resilient structures that can withstand and recover quickly from natural or human-induced disasters. CDRI will support countries to upgrade their systems to ensure disaster and climate resilience of existing and future infrastructure. The goals of CDRI will be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sendai Framework.
Role of CDRI in promoting disaster resilient infrastructure:
- Enhancing Resilient Infrastructure: CDRI prioritizes ecological and social resilience in developing nations’ infrastructure.
- Knowledge Sharing: Sharing best practices, research, and expertise globally.
- Capacity Building: Enhancing skills for effective infrastructure planning.
- Policy Advocacy: Influencing policies for integrating resilience into infrastructure development.
- Resource Mobilization: Garnering funds and support for resilient projects.
- Technical Assistance: Providing guidance for infrastructure design and implementation.
- Promoting Research and Development: CDRI encourages research into disaster-resilient infrastructure for developing countries.
- Global Collaboration: Fostering partnerships to address resilience challenges collectively. Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure plays a vital part in enhancing resilience against natural disasters and climate change impacts, safeguarding their infrastructure systems, and promoting sustainable development.
Q: Examine the role of climate change in intensifying cyclonic activity in the Indian Ocean and its implications for disaster preparedness. Suggest measures including the guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for enhancing disaster readiness. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
The Indian Ocean region has experienced an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of cyclones in recent years. This has resulted in devastating impacts on coastal communities and infrastructure. On average, India experiences around 6 to 7 cyclonic storms in a year.
Role of Climate Change in Intensifying Cyclonic Activity in the Indian Ocean:
- Warmer Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs): Cyclones thrive on warm ocean waters. As the Indian Ocean’s surface temperatures rise due to climate change, there is more energy available to fuel cyclone formation and intensification.
- Increased Ocean Heat Content: The heat content in the Indian Ocean is increasing, providing additional energy to cyclones. This helps storms intensify more quickly and maintain their strength for longer periods.
- Changes in Atmospheric Circulation Patterns: Climate change can alter atmospheric circulation patterns, influencing the development and movement of cyclones. Such changes can lead to the formation of more favorable conditions for cyclone intensification.
- Rising Sea Levels: Higher Sea levels can exacerbate the impact of storm surges associated with cyclones, leading to more extensive coastal flooding and damage.
Implications for Disaster Preparedness:
- Higher Frequency and Intensity: The increased occurrence and intensity of cyclones can overwhelm existing disaster response mechanisms, putting populations at greater risk.
- Population Density and Vulnerability: Many coastal areas in the Indian Ocean region are densely populated and economically vulnerable. Cyclones can cause widespread destruction, displacement, and loss of life, particularly in areas with inadequate infrastructure and resources.
- Resource Allocation: The increasing frequency of cyclones can strain resources, making it challenging to mount effective disaster response efforts consistently.
- Climate-Related Migration: As the frequency and severity of cyclones increases, there might be a rise in climate-related migration, leading to social, economic, and political challenges.
Measures to enhance disaster preparedness:
- Early Warning Systems: Utilize meteorological satellites, weather radars, and other advanced technologies to provide timely and accurate forecasts. E.g., early warning systems during cyclone Fani helped in tracking the cyclone’s path by IMD and reduced the severity of destruction.
- Community Preparedness: Conduct regular awareness campaigns and training programs to educate communities about cyclone preparedness and response strategies involving local authorities, NGOs, and community leaders.
- Evacuation and Shelter: Identify vulnerable coastal areas prone to cyclones and develop evacuation plans.
- Strict Regulation: Implement strict regulations on construction and development activities along the coastline to maintain buffer zones and protect vulnerable areas. E.g., the government is implementing Coastal Zone Management Rules for this purpose.
- Developing Resilient Infrastructure: Improve the resilience of critical infrastructure in coastal areas, including power grids, hospitals, schools, and transportation systems, to withstand cyclone impacts.
- International Cooperation: Strengthen regional and international collaborations on capacity building measures like sharing knowledge, expertise, and resources in cyclone preparedness and response. E.g., India can learn best practices from countries like Japan, etc
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines in this regard:
- Advanced Cyclone Early Warning System: Implementing a cutting-edge system for early cyclone detection, including observation, prediction, warnings, and tailored local guidance.
- Effective Drainage System: Ensuring optimal capacity of drainage infrastructure—main drains, canals, and feeder channels—along with additional flood flow canals in areas prone to frequent inundation.
- Saline Embankments: Constructing barriers to prevent the infiltration of saline water during cycloneinduced storm surges.
- Ecosystem Mapping: Using remote sensing tools to map coastal wetlands, mangrove patches, and shelterbelts. Identifying suitable zones for expanding bio-shields to counter cyclone impacts.
- Holistic Hazard Mitigation: Creating a unified approach to hazard reduction by considering cyclones, storm surges, wind hazards, rainfall-runoff, river floods, and integrating Geographical Information System (GIS) models.
These measures collectively aim to fortify disaster readiness and resilience in the wake of rising cyclonic threats. Government has launched National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) with the World Bank, aimed at enhancing India’s preparedness and resilience to cyclones and other natural disasters.