By- Dr. Ravi Agrahari’s (Scientist at IIT Delhi.)
Q.1 Discuss the role of press in disaster management. What are the various steps taken by the government to spread awareness among public to make them prepared for any such disaster incident?
Ans. The Hyogo framework for action 2005-2015 titled ‘Building the resilience of nations and communities to disaster’ was the first plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses. It involved many governments, international agencies, disaster experts and others to a common system of coordination for disaster risk reduction. It outlined 5 priorities for action and guidelines and means for achieving disaster resilience and these are considered as blue print for action in disaster management. One of the 5 priorities of Hyogo framework is to strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels, it includes ensured preparedness of governments, other authorities, individuals and communities in hazard prone areas to act and equipped with knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management. In the light of this, the capacity development of stakeholders is very critical components towards effective risk reduction at ground level, which requires a platform for communication between the disaster managers across the country, specially states and stakeholders for sharing efforts on risk reduction and making them informed and aware. When disaster comes it brings a panic situation for public, and it is required that they should be in advance prepared for handling such situations and rescuing themselves and others also.
Thus press becomes a medium of communication here; it is a platform through which effective communication can be made. It includes Radios, Books, Newspapers, Training modules, magazines, News Channels, social media, Mobile apps etc. With the help of these mediums the purpose of capacity building can be fulfilled. Therefore government has taken many small and big initiatives in this regard to keep the public informed about their surroundings and prepare them to handle disasters such as they have using mass media to aware the public for Do’s and Don’ts, as it was done during Nepal earthquake.
They have launched Mobile applications like ‘SAFAR- AIR’ and ‘INDIA WHEATHER’ to keep the stakeholders informed with real time air quality and weather related information respectively. Recently NDMA (national disaster management authority) it has also released a quarterly newsletter “SAMVAD” as a platform for sharing information and efforts by various disaster managers, states and all stakeholders, with a aim of capacity building.
Q.2 ‘Disaster management authority act is not just an act in parliament but action on ground’. Elucidate.
Ans. Vulnerability of India to disasters is not new, India is one of the oldest civilizations, and therefore has remained vulnerable to various hazards since then. But the difference here is approach adopted by India to tackle such situations. Since independence it has adopted the approach of only reactive, responding and relieving the victims till 1999, but after the 1999 Orissa cyclone and 2001 Bhuj Gujarat earthquake, India realized that it has to adopt a holistic approach for tackling such disasters. Further, the Tsunami of 2004 has shaken India internally, after that a paradigm shift was seen in the approach adopted for tackling disaster management, it shifted towards a integrated and holistic approach containing prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and post- intervention recovery and rehabilitation processes as its basis.
With this comprehensive approach it passed Disaster management act in 2005, the way this act was passed and the way country has taken steps in this regard are commendable. The act was also passes with a comprehensive approach and the actions taken thereof on the grounds also keeps pace with this approach. This act is considered as action on ground because of the following rapid actions taken-
• The act was passed in December 2005, with a single voice without any opposition and hindrance.
• An apex body NDMA (National disaster management authority) was created with the enactment of this act.
• NIDM (National Institute of disaster management) was given nodal functions and responsibilities of research, capacity building, and training and human resource development for disaster management.
• NDRF (National Disaster response force) is a separate police force mentioned under this act and was created very next year, for specialist response to threats of disasters.
Therefore all the institutions have different responsibilities under an integrated approach and started functioning very soon. They have proven their worth every time after their creation, as the way they rescued people from Kedarnath flood situation (Human Bridge made by the rescue team), Jammu and Kashmir Flood, HudHud cyclone, and Nepal earthquake is commendable.
On the ground level, in actual disaster situations they have proven that India has understood that how to deal with disasters. They have mitigated the loss upto a large extent. These are achievement of Disaster Management act 2005 on the ground level. Therefore it was not only an act of parliament but yes it is action on the ground.
Q.3 ‘India has moved forward in Disaster management but there are grounds to cover.’ Elaborate.
Ans. Vulnerability of India to disasters is not new, India is one of the oldest civilizations, and therefore has remained vulnerable to various hazards since then. But the difference here is approach adopted by India to tackle such situations. Since independence it has adopted the approach of only reactive, responding and relieving the victims till 1999 Orissa cyclone and 2001 Bhuj Gujarat earthquake, at that time India realized it has to adopt a holistic approach for tackling such disasters.
Further, the Tsunami of 2004 has shaken India internally, after that a paradigm shift was seen in the approach adopted for tackling disaster management, it shifted towards a holistic approach containing prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and post-intervention recovery and rehabilitation processes as its basis. Major steps were taken by government of India after this incidence in the light and under guidelines of Hyogo framework which are passing of Disaster management act 2005 with a single voice, an apex body NIDM (National institute of Disaster management) was created under the act, NDMA (national disaster management authority) and SDMAs (State disaster management authorities) were created, NDRF (National disaster response force) was created, Separate experts, medical teams, ships, helicopters, defense personnel were arranged for any such incidents.
And it has achieved a lot after this, its achievements can be seen in its efforts during Kedarnath flood incident, HudHud cyclone, Jammu and Kashmir flood incident and a recent Nepal earthquake. The way it availed its rescue operations and saved human lives are commendable. Even though we have achieved a lot, in reducing disaster risk, but still a lot has to be done, we need a policy based on ground situation, we are moving day to day towards progress facing eventualities. We need not only provide relief operations, rescue operations, rehabilitation, and reconstruction but also we need to strike the root cause of it and prevent disaster, here comes need of precise research as we have understood how to deal with disasters, need of the hour is to integrate this understanding with research.
Also we need to enhance private sector participation in reducing disaster risk, need to enhance international cooperation for trans disciplinary research, have to work for capacity building of states and other stakeholders, as many states have yet not worked upon it and we also need to develop community capacity building. This all will make India one of the best disaster managers in the world.
Q.4 What are the priorities and global targets of- ‘Sendai framework for Disaster risk reduction 2015-30’. Explain how international agreements and collaborations are helpful in reducing disaster risk.
Ans. The Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030, titled as ‘Making the difference for Poverty, Health and Resilience’ is a major agreement of the post 2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was adopted by the UN general assembly following the 2015 Third UN world conference on Disaster risk reduction (WCDRR).
The Sendai agreement is the successor of Hyogo framework for action 2005-2015. Its aim is the substantial reduction disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries. Its fours priorities are-
• Understanding disaster risk.
• Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
• Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
• Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Its seven global targets are-
• Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 1,00,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
• Substantially reduce the number of affected people by 2030, aiming to lower average per 1,00,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
• Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
• Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and education facilities, including through resilience by 2030.
• Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
• Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries by 2030.
• Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi hazard early warning systems disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
The Hyogo framework as blue print of actions and Sendai framework as multiplier of such actions has proved that international cooperation and collaborations can help mitigate the losses of disasters, especially for developing and underdeveloped countries. International frameworks give guidelines to world to walk on a same path to achieve the target.
It also enhance accessibility to technology, forecasting and warning systems for the developing and underdeveloped countries who are rather far behind in technological aspects and vulnerable to disasters, also through involvement of international NGO’s and disaster experts, the prevention, mitigation recovery and rehabilitation process also becomes accessible and effective.
Q.5 “Capacity, Coordination and Community participation”, these three C’s are three Pillars stones of disaster management. Elaborate. Discuss the role of NDRF in capacity building for disaster management.
Ans. As after the Tsunami of 2004, India made a paradigm shift in its approach towards disaster management, it earlier included only reactive, responding and relieving processes but afterwards it also included preventive, mitigating and preparing processes, and these three C’s are three pillars on which prevention, mitigation and preparedness are lied upon. It was realized that disaster management is a joint effort and therefore preparedness at all levels is critical in hours of crisis to tackle disasters.
Capacity includes technological framework, institutional framework, equipment availability, trained Human resource with knowledge and information, response team, rescue and search teams, police force, food and health facilities, aware, informed and participating public, to work in the hours of crisis.
This preparedness needs to be at national level, state level, local level, and also at individual level. Coordination, As disaster management is a joint effort, coordination between various related institutions, centre, states and local authorities, rescue and search teams, rehabilitation teams, police force, Local NGO’s, and other disaster managers is of immense importance, so that all should work in single direction in their respective fields in a coordinated way.
No confusions in directions should be there. Community participation, many times during crisis connectivity to the effected site becomes difficult as road and railway infrastructure in India is still not well developed. Many times communication system also fails. In such situation, rescue teams are unable to reach to the site. Therefore the local community, civil societies, NGO’s and in fact each and every individual can help each other in such situation, specially for initial emergency medical treatment, rescuing people and taking them to safe settlements, motivating victims etc .
The need is that they all should be informed and trained in advance. Therefore, their participation becomes an important part in disaster management. Thus, these three C’s combined are three pillars of disaster management, as only policy framework and apex institutions alone not enough for this purpose. NDRF is a police force which is created with an aim of providing special response in any disaster situation. They have proven their worth in every crisis they have taken part, apart from this they also do the work of Emergency management exercises, through which they check and improve the preparedness of various local authorities, related to this with the aim their capacity building. It also provides training to various NGO’s and Civil societies about how to work and provide relief to the victims of disaster. They are trained with initial medical care capabilities, so that they should perform in such situations. In this way NDRF plays an important role in capacity building.
Q.6 During the recent Nepal earthquake, India has shown that its disaster management preparedness not only benefits India but also its neighboring countries and many more littoral countries. Elucidate.
Ans. Nepal is one of the neighboring countries of India, and we have maintained always a good relation with Nepal. Without any expectations India has given a lot economic, trade, employment and diplomatic benefits to Nepal. India also shares its earthquake prone Himalayan boundary with Nepal. So, in the hours of crisis in Nepal, when on 25th April 2015 a high frequency and intensity earthquake of 7.8 magnitude hit Nepal, India also shared its disaster management capabilities with it. India showed that India has only one approach towards Nepal and that is friendship and Nepal’s progress and India walked shoulder to shoulder with Nepal in its crisis.
Keeping in view the sovereignty of Nepal, India extended it all possible logistics assistance like deployment of resources of army, Indian air force, National disaster response force, providing food, water, medicines, tents, blankets, water purifying systems etc, within six hours of earthquake. Our forces worked round the clock in close coordination with government of Nepal.
It rescued 11 persons and 133 dead bodies. India also extended essential medical care, logistics, and free transportation to those whom we evacuated from Nepal to their native places. The activeness of India in extending its support to Nepal was commended by the world; it was all possible because India has achieved sufficient capabilities in disaster management.
It has kept its disaster management team separated, so that they could easily available in need. India also has one of the world’s best forecasting systems on which other 28 countries are also dependable for their forecasting purpose. In this way India’s achievement in disaster management are not only beneficial for India but other countries too, specially its small neighbors and other developing and under developed countries in Asia.
Q.7 Draw a relation between emerging tourism industry and transformations of hazards into disaster. Also suggest measures to mitigate the negative impacts of tourism on environment.
Ans. We can say Environmental degradation is inversely proportional to Economic development and these two phenomena are interrelated and interdependent. For economic development of any country, its resources whether they are natural, environmental, or human are the key factors. Economic development of any country depends upon how much and better its resources are utilized. If the use of resources is greater than its regeneration capability, then it results into environmental degradation.
Therefore it is necessary to maintain a balance between use and regeneration of resources, which is called sustainable development. Development of tourism as an industry is also a step towards economic development, which may also have some negative impacts on the country. We know that sometimes anthropogenic activities supplements transformation of hazards into disaster, like urbanization in hilly areas, development of infrastructure like roads, railways and bridges triggers the incidents of landslides, earthquake, and avalanches.
Similarly the sewage and blockage in drainage systems like problems may also result into flood. Habitation near to coast may destroyed by cyclones and tsunami. Therefore human interference increases the possibilities of disasters. In the same way tourism development and excessive human interference in in disaster prone areas may turns even small hazards into disaster. It has various negative impacts like, depletion of natural resources, water resources, land degradation, pollution (Air, Noise, solid waste, littering, sewage), destruction and alterations of ecosystem. Degradation of attractive landslide sites, such as mountain tops and slopes.
Land clearing, deforestation for constructions, loss of biodiversity, depletion of ozone layer, and climate change. These all negative impacts have potential threats to transform even small hazards into disasters. Therefore tourism in India should be developed in such a way that it attracts tourists from around entire world, and entertains them in such a way that is minimum intrusive or destructive to the environment, in short Eco-tourism should be adopted, which means ecologically sensitive tourism, keeping in mind the sustainable growth of the country.
Q.8 With reference to the recent Nepal earthquake, it was suggested by the experts that earthquakes are the most unpredictable natural hazards while others can be predicted. Why is it so? Even though they are unpredictable still we can mitigate their impacts, how? Suggest some measures.
Ans. The loss in Nepal would have been mitigated if Nepal would have been prepared for any such disaster. The scientists of the world have already warned Nepal earlier for high intensity earthquake as the country is situated at the converging plate boundaries of Indian plate and Eurasian plate, But now nothing can be done for what has been passed but the disaster prone countries, specially earthquake prone countries should be prepared for disaster risk reduction always as till now we can only predict, where it is likely to occur, but when it cannot be predicted as we can do for other natural phenomena.
The geographical study and various branches have moved so forward in studying the natural phenomena and their properties, that we can predict the time and frequency of Cyclones, Tsunami, flood, rainfall, drought, etc. but the brief history of science of seismology is yet uncovered. And this is the reason why Earthquake is most unpredictable natural disaster whereas others can be predicted well before time. ‘Earthquake is a strain energy accumulating in a fault under earth surface and its rapture over a period of time” it is also unpredictable because there are number of reasons effecting strain energy accumulating in a fault and its rapture.
So far almost 90 percent of the earthquake predictions done are based on statistical correlation and analysis, we calibrate these statistical models with past data and we try to predict next return of events like earthquake. Thus, it’s an uncertain assumption and we can only predict where it is likely to occur but when no one can predict till now. There are studies going on, may be in future we can predict this also, but until that although we cannot predict its occurrence and it cannot be prevented, but it doesn’t mean that the its risk cannot be mitigated, it can be mitigated in following ways-
• Buildings in the earthquake prone areas should be made earthquake resistant with strength, stiffness and inelastic deformation capacity.