(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: Yojana Magazine - Challengers in Disaster Management

Yojana Magazine

Entertainment Industry  - Challengers in Disaster Management

According to theWorld Disaster Report 2010 published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), during the period 2000 to 2009, as many as 85 percent of the people affected
by disasters belonged to the Asia Pacific region. The Global Assessment Report 2011 published by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) estimates that more than 90percent of the global population exposed to floods live in South Asian, East Asian and the Pacific countries. Among the disaster-prone countries in South Asia, India and Bangladesh are highly vulnerable due to the large population exposed to disasters in India and the geographical, riverine and topographical features of coastal areas of Bangladesh vulnerable to floods and cyclones.

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Q. Challenges in Disaster Management.

In India as many as 200 million people are exposed to recurring floods every year. The high disaster risk and exposure of millions of people in India living in vulnerable areas prone to geological disasters, hydro- meteorological disasters and man-made and technological disasters makes it imperative that a national campaign on mission mode is launched to strengthen disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation efforts in India. The Vulnerability Atlas prepared by the Building Materials Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) highlights that 58.6 percent of the geographical area in India falls within seismic zones III, IV and V which could face
earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity. 12 percent of the geographical area, covering more than 40million hectares, faces recurring floods, changing course of rivers and river erosion. Along the 7516 km coastline, about 5700 km are vulnerable to storm surge, cyclones and tsunami. More than 68 percent of the cultivable area is vulnerable to drought. Landslides and snow avalanches in unstable slopes and high altitude terrain also  occur frequently. Due to the pressures of the fast pace of urbanization, modernization and industrialization, the threats of man-made and technological disasters have also increased substantially as modern industrial units are
processing, storing and transporting hazardous chemicals and hazardous materials. According to the World Bank, during the period 1996 to 2000, India lost approximately 2.25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and 12.15 percent of the revenue annually due to natural and man-made disasters. The National Policy on Disaster Management prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India and approved by the Cabinet in 2009 was formulated with the vision to build a safe and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster oriented and technology driven strategy through a culture of prevention, mitigation and response.

The National Policy envisaged a paradigm shift from the hitherto reactive post-disaster relief-centric regime to a more proactive and enabling environment of strengthened disaster preparedness, mitigation and improved emergency response capacities of all stakeholder groups. Mandated by the enactment of the Disaster Management Act 2005, institutional mechanisms like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chaired by the Prime Minister of India at the national level, State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) chaired by the Chief Ministers of the respective State Governments at the state level and District Disaster
Management Authorities (DDMAs) chaired by the respective District Collectors and co-chaired by the Sabhapatis of the Zilla Parishads at the district level were established. However, in many cases, these institutions are not active and operational except a few honorable exceptions. Similarly, even though the Disaster Management Act 2005 stipulated the setting up of the Disaster Response Fund and the Disaster Mitigation Fund at national, state and district levels, only the National and State Disaster Response Funds have become operational till now. The increasing frequency and damage to property, assets and infrastructure caused by recurring disasters makes it imperative that the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005 are enforced in letter and spirit.

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