1) DEFINITION OF DISASTER

– “Disaster” is defined under section 2(d) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 as a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, and is of such nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the affected area.
– Disasters, whether natural or man-made, have been part of man’s evolution since times immemorial. Many civilizations including the ancient Indus Valley civilization is thought to have declined because of some natural or man-made disasters.

2) DISASTER MANAGEMENT: UNDERSTANDING THE 3-STAGE CYCLE

– A disaster needs to be examined in terms of its management cycle that would enable us to anticipate the crisis, prevent and mitigate it to the extent possible and deal with the crisis situation as it emerges.
– The life cycle of disaster Management can be divided into three phases:

i. Pre-Crisis: Preparedness
– This is the period when the potential hazard risk and vulnerabilities can be assessed and steps taken for preventing and mitigating the crisis and preparing for actual occurrence.
» These include long-term prevention measures like construction of embankments to prevent flooding, creating or augmenting irrigation facilities and adopting water shed management as drought proofing measures, increasing plantations for reducing the occurrence of landslides, construction of earthquake resistant structures and sound environment management.
– Crisis can also be mitigated by various short term measures which will either reduce or modify the scale and intensity of the threat. This may include better enforcements of :
» Building Code
» Zoning regulation
» Proper maintenance of drainage system

ii. During Crisis: Emergency Response
– Disaster Response aims to provide immediate attention to maintain life, improve health, and to support the morale of the victim population.
» It includes activities like warning, search, rescue, evacuation, followed by provisions of basic needs like first aid, medicine, food, clothing, shelter and other necessities essential to bring life of the affected back to a degree of normalcy.
iii. Post Crisis: The Three Rs
– Post crisis activities can be summed in 3 R’s: Recovery, Rehabilitation and Resettlement a. Recovery: This is the stage when efforts are made to achieve early recovery and reduce vulnerability and future risks. It comprises activities that encompass two overlapping phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
b. Rehabilitation refers to actions taken in the aftermath of a disaster to enable basic services to resume functioning, assist victim’s self-help efforts to repair dwellings and community facilities, and to facilitate the revival of economic activities.
c. Reconstruction refers to permanent construction or replacement of severely damaged physical structures, the full restoration of all services and local infrastructure, and the revitalization of the economy (including agriculture). It should include development of disaster resilient infrastructure and must be fully integrated into long-term development plans.

3) DISASTER VULNERABILITY PROFILE OF INDIA
– India is one of the 10 worst disaster-prone countries in the world. India has been vulnerable, in varying degree to a large number of natural, as well as, human made disasters on account of its unique geoclimatic and socio-economic conditions.
» 58.6 percent of landmass is prone to earthquake of moderate to high intensity.
» Of close to 7516 km long coastline, close to 5700 km is prone to cyclones and Tsunamis;
» 65% of the cultivable area is vulnerable to drought.
» Hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches.
The country is prone to disaster due to a number of factors
a. The natural geological setting of the country is the primary basic reason for its increased vulnerability.
§ The geo tectonic features of the Himalayan region and adjacent alluvial plains make the region susceptible to earthquakes, landslides, water erosion etc.
b. Droughts: The Western Parts of the country, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and some parts of Maharashtra are hit very frequently by drought situation. If Monsoon worsens the situation spreads to other parts of the country as well.
c. Cyclones: The disturbance in the pressure condition over the oceans, results into cyclones in the coastal regions.
d. Tsunami: The Geo tectonic movements going on in the ocean floor make the coastal region prone to Tsunami disaster too.
e. Climate change is expected to further increase the frequency and intensity of current extreme weather events and give rise to vulnerabilities with differential spatial and socio economic impacts on communities.
• Reason for concern
• Observation during the last decade and projections indicate that extreme events i.e. heat waves, cold waves, more floods, more droughts, more intense cyclones, and flash floods will increase.
f. Poverty and disaster vulnerability: Poverty and risk to disasters are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The poor section of the society is worst affected in case of disaster. The situation further aggravates due to:
» Compulsion of the poor to exploit environmental resources for their survival, increasing the risk and exposure of the society to disasters, in particular those triggered by flood, drought and landslides.
» Poverty also compels the poor to migrate and live at physically more vulnerable locations, often on unsafe land and in unsafe shelters.
Other Factors which have worsened the situation
– Environmental degradation
– High Population Density and growth
– Unplanned Urbanization
– Unregulated Industrialization
– Non-scientific developmental process etc.
– Development within high risk zones