The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India. Setting up of NDMA and the creation of an enabling environment for institutional mechanisms at the State and District levels is mandated by the Disaster Management Act, 2005. NDMA is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disasters Management. India envisions the development of an ethos of Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness and Response.
The Indian government strives to promote a national resolve to mitigate the damage and destruction caused by natural and man-made disasters.
Common Type of Disasters in India(NDMA)
Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation. Cyclones are usually accompanied by violent storms and bad weather. The air circulates inward in an anticlockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere.
Cyclones are classified as: (i) extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and (ii) tropical cyclones. The word Cyclone is derived from the Greek word Cyclos meaning the coils of a snake. It was coined by Henry Peddington because the tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea appear like coiled serpents of the sea.
Cyclones are classified as extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and tropical cyclones.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO, 1976) uses the term ‘Tropical Cyclone’ to cover weather systems in which winds exceed ‘Gale Force’ (minimum of 34 knots or 63 kph). Tropical cyclones are the progeny of ocean and atmosphere, powered by the heat from the sea; and driven by easterly trades and temperate westerlies, high planetary winds and their own fierce energy.
In India, cyclones are classified by:
- Strength of associated winds,
- Storm surges
- Exceptional rainfall occurrences.
The Earth’s lithosphere is broken up into a bunch of discrete pieces, called plates that move around the surface of the planet. There are seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates. This motion is driven by the flow of the mantle rock beneath the plates and by the forces plates exert at their boundaries where they touch each other. Earthquakes happen when plates move with respect to each other because of the friction and stress at the edges of plates prevents them from slipping smoothly at their boundaries. When one plate is forced to dive beneath another plate, there is no way to do it except with some component of vertical motion creating tsunami .
The tsunami that occurred during 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of Mw 9.3 was primarily caused by vertical displacement of the seafloor, in response to slip on the inter-plate thrust fault. The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean affected many countries in Southeast Asia and beyond, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, the Maldives, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Seychelles and others.
The Government of India has put in place an Early Warning System for mitigation of such oceanogenic disasters under the control of Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. A state-of-the-art early warning centre was established with the necessary computational and communication infrastructure that enables reception of real-time data from sensors, analysis of the data, generation and dissemination of tsunami advisories following a standard operating procedure.
A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July. The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves :
- Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40°C for Plains and atleast 30°C for Hilly regions
- When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5°C to 6°C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7°C or more
- When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4°C to 5°C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6°C or more
- When actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared. Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.
Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.
Health Impacts of Heat Waves
The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39°C i.e.102°F.
- Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
- Heat Stoke: Body temperatures of 40°C i.e. 104°F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potential fatal condition
Urban flooding is significantly different from rural flooding as urbanization leads to developed catchments, which increases the flood peaks from 1.8 to 8 times and flood volumes by up to 6 times. Consequently, flooding occurs very quickly due to faster flow times (in a matter of minutes). Urban areas are densely populated and people living in vulnerable areas suffer due to flooding, sometimes resulting in loss of life. It is not only the event of flooding but the secondary effect of exposure to infection also has its toll in terms of human suffering, loss of livelihood and, in extreme cases, loss of life.
Urban areas are also centres of economic activities with vital infrastructure which needs to be protected 24×7. In most of the cities, damage to vital infrastructure has a bearing not only for the state and the country but it could even have global implications. Major cities in India have witnessed loss of life and property, disruption in transport and power and incidence of epidemics. Therefore, management of urban flooding has to be accorded top priority.
Increasing trend of urban flooding is a universal phenomenon and poses a great challenge to urban planners the world over. Problems associated with urban floods range from relatively localized incidents to major incidents, resulting in cities being inundated from hours to several days. Therefore, the impact can also be widespread, including temporary relocation of people, damage to civic amenities, deterioration of water quality and risk of epidemics.
India is highly vulnerable to floods. Out of the total geographical area of 329 million hectares (mha), more than 40 mha is flood prone. The average annual flood damage in the last 10 years period from 1996 to 2005 was Rs. 4745 crore as compared to Rs. 1805 crore, the corresponding average for the previous 53 years. This can be attributed to many reasons including a steep increase in population, rapid urbanization growing developmental and economic activities in flood plains coupled with global warming.
The frequency of major floods is more than once in five years.
Floods have also occurred in areas, which were earlier not considered flood prone. An effort has been made in these Guidelines to cover the entire gamut of Flood Management.
Eighty per cent of the precipitation takes place in the monsoon months from June to September. The rivers a bring heavy sediment load from catchments. These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of rivers are responsible for causing floods, drainage congestion and erosion of river-banks. Cyclones, cyclonic circulations and cloud bursts cause flash floods and lead to huge losses. It is a fact that some of the rivers causing damage in India originate in neighboring countries; adding another complex dimension to the problem. Continuing and large-scale loss of lives and damage to public and private property due to floods indicate that we are still to develop an effective response to floods. NDMA’s Executive Summary Guidelines have been prepared to enable the various implementing and stakeholder agencies to effectively address the critical areas for minimising flood damage.
Chemical, being at the core of modern industrial systems, has attained a very serious concern for disaster management within government, private sector and community at large. Chemical disasters may be traumatic in their impacts on human beings and have resulted in the casualties and also damages nature and property. The elements which are at highest risks due to chemical disaster primarily include the industrial plant, its employees & workers, hazardous chemicals vehicles, the residents of nearby settlements, adjacent buildings, occupants and surrounding community. Chemical disasters may arise in number of ways, such as:-
- Process and safety systems failures
- Human errors
- Technical errors
- Management errors
- Induced effect of natural calamities
- Accidents during the transportation
- Hazardous waste processing/ disposal
- Terrorist attack/ unrest leading to sabotage
Biological disasters are causative of process or phenomenon of organic origin or conveyed by biological vectors, including exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms, toxins and bioactive substances that may cause loss of life, injury, illness or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage. Examples of biological disasters include outbreaks of epidemic diseases, plant or animal contagion, insect or other animal plagues and infestation. Biological disasters may be in the form of:-
Epidemic affecting a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time, examples being Cholera, Plague, Japanese Encephalitis (JE)/Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES); or,
Pandemic is an epidemic that spreads across a large region, that is, a continent, or even worldwide of existing, emerging or reemerging diseases and pestilences, example being Influenza H1N1 (Swine Flu).
- Biological disasters and epidemics
- Pest attacks
- Cattle epidemics
- Food poisoning