A Disaster is an incidence or sequence of events, which gives rise to fatalities and harm or loss of assets, communications, environment, indispensable services or sources of income on such an extent which is beyond the usual capability of the affected society to survive with. Disaster is also explained as a “disastrous condition in which the usual pattern of life or ecosystem has been interrupted and extra-ordinary crisis intervention are required to save and preserve lives and or the environment
The Oxford Dictionary defines disaster as “a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life”“Disaster is the occurrence of sudden or major misfortune which disrupts the basic fabric and normal functioning of the society or community” as defined by the United Nations.
A disaster is a rapid, cataclysmic event that badly interrupts the act of an area or society and causes human, material, and financial or ecological losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins.
As per the Disaster Management Act 2005, a disaster is defined as “a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made cause, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area”
A disaster creates a series of impact; these include direct, secondary and indirect effects. Direct effects include deaths, injuries and physical damage. However, secondary disaster impacts such as releasing fire or hazardous material that is triggered by disasters. Finally, impacts include the ripple effect resulting from the flow of goods, services, unemployment etc.
India is at risk, in varying degrees, to a large number of disasters. More than 58.6 per cent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity; over 40 million hectares (12 per cent) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion; close to 5,700 kms, out of the 7,516 kms long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; 68 per cent of its cultivable area is vulnerable to droughts; and, its hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches. Moreover, India is also vulnerable to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made disasters.
Disaster risks in India are further compounded by growing vulnerabilities related to changing demographics and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, geological hazards, epidemics and pandemics. Clearly, all these contribute to a situation where disasters seriously threaten India’s economy, its population and sustainable development.
Major Disasters in India in the Year 2017
514 people were dead due to Bihar floods that affected 19 districts of North Bihar. This flood was result of sudden raise in water expulsion due to torrential rain in the foothill of the Himalayas in Nepal and adjoining areas in Bihar.
Gorakhpur Hospital Deaths
In the year 2017, 1.317 children died as per the record of BRD Medical College hospital, Gorakhpur city of Uttar Pradesh.
Due to the Flood took place on August 29, 2017 due to heavy rains, Mumbai recorded 468 mm of rainfall in 12 hours, the highest in a day in August since 1997, according to data from the India Meteorological Department. Transport systems were unavailable through parts of the city as trains and roadways were shut. Power was cut-off from various parts of the city to prevent electrocution.
On 29 September 2017, a stampede broke out at the Elphinstone station in Mumbai. 23 people were killed and 39 others were injured in the stampede.
After the Cyclone Megh in 2015, Ockhi was the most extreme tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea. More than 245 fatalities were caused by Ockhi, including 218 in India and 27 in Sri Lanka and it left at least 551 people, mainly fishermen, missing.
Kamala Mills Fire
The Kamala Mills Fire was a fire accident at the Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel area of Mumbai. The Fire resulted the deaths of 14 people on 28th December 2017.
Forms of Disaster
Hydro- metrological disasters is a progression or occurrence of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature that may bring loss of life, harm or other health impacts, harm of assets, loss of livelihoods and services, social and fiscal intrusion, or ecological damage (includes tropical cyclones, thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornados, blizzards, heavy snowfall, avalanches, coastal storm surges, floods including flash floods, drought, heatwaves and cold spells). Hydro- metrological disasters includes Landslides/Avalanches, drought/famine, extreme temperatures and heat waves, floods, hurricanes, forest/scrub fires, windstorm and others.
Geophysical disasters are events created from solid earth and are classified as: Earthquakes (ground shaking and tsunamis), Volcanic Eruptions, and Dry Mass Movements (rock fall, avalanche, landslide, subsidence).
Technological or man-made hazards (complex emergencies/conflicts, famine, evacuated populations, industrial accidents and transport accidents) are events that are caused by humans and occur in or close to human settlements. This can include ecological deprivation, pollution and accidents.
There are a variety of disputes, such as climate change, unplanned-urbanization, under-development/poverty as well as the threat of pandemics, that will shape humanitarian assistance in the future. The consequences of these infuriating factors are increased frequency, complexity and severity of disasters.
It is a strategic planning and procedure that is directed and engaged to protect life-threatening infrastructures (also known as “critical assets”) from severe harms when natural or human made catastrophes and tragic events occur. Disaster management plans are multi-layered and are aimed to address such issues as floods, hurricanes, fires, bombings, and even mass failures of utilities or the rapid spread of disease. A constant and integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary or expedient for:
Avoidance of hazard or threat of any disaster
lessening of danger of any disaster or its severity or conseqences
Awareness to deal with any disaster
Timely reaction to any intimidating disaster situation
Assessing severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster
Evacuation, rescue and relief
Rehabilitation and reconstruction
The management and supervision of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all charitable features of emergencies, in meticulous preparedness, response and recovery in order to decrease the impact of disasters is the Disaster Management6.
Aims of Disaster Management
It aspires to lessen, or evade the possible fatalities from vulnerability, assure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims of disaster, and achieve rapid and effective recovery.
Developmental concerns contribute to all features of the disaster management cycle. One of the key purposes of disaster management, and the strongest acquaintances with development, is the promotion of sustainable livelihoods and their protection and recovery throughout disasters and crisis situation. Where this goal is achieved, people have a greater capability to deal with disasters and their recovery is more rapid and long lasting.
In a development oriented disaster management approach, the objectives are to reduce hazards, prevent disasters, and prepare for emergencies. Therefore, developmental considerations are sturdily represented in the mitigation and preparedness phases of the disaster management cycle. Inappropriate development processes can lead to increased vulnerability to disasters and loss of preparedness for emergency situations.
Disaster: An unexpected event like a major accident, flood or fire that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage.
Disaster Management: An effort to inquire into the process of a hazard turning into disaster, to identify its causes and rectify the same through public policy concerned with minimizing and preventing the damaging impact of a natural or manmade hazard.
Disaster Management Act 2005: It lays down institutional, legal, financial and coordination mechanism at the national, state, district and local levels.
Disaster Prone area: An area or region that has the chance or likelihood of being hit by a disaster.
Risk: A situation that could be dangerous or have a bad result.
Disaster Risk: It is the product of hazard and vulnerability divided by ability for convenience.
Hazard: A dangerous condition or happenings threaten or have the potential for causing damage to life or loss of belongings or the surroundings.
Accident: An unpleasant event, especially that involves a vehicle-that happens unexpectedly and causes injury or damage.
Mitigation: Actions that lessen or reduce the severity of damage caused by disasters such as cyclone shelters.
Early warning: Systematic collection and testing of information for the purpose of anticipating and identifying emerging, deteriorating or recurring humanitarian crises.
First aid: A process that helps a person survives and functions with injuries that would otherwise kill or incapacitate him/her.
CBDM: Abbreviation for Community Based Disaster Management that includes strategies involving community.
Cyclone Shelters: Meant to reduce loss of life during cyclones, these include community buildings, schools, hospitals and prayer halls that accommodate those affected by Cyclones.
Administrative decisions and operational activities that involve
Disaster management entails all ranks of government. Non-governmental and community based organizations play an essential role in the process. Modern disaster management goes beyond post-disaster assistance. It now includes pre-disaster planning and preparedness activities, organizational planning, guidance, information management, public relations and many other fields. Emergency management is important, but is only a part of the responsibility of a disaster manager. The newer paradigm is the Total Risk Management (TRM) which takes a holistic approach to risk reduction.
Disaster Management Cycle
National Disaster Management Authority
Government of India
The conventional approach to disaster management has been to regard it as a number of phased sequences of action or a continuum. These can be represented as a disaster management cycle. The basic disaster management cycle convex of six main activities
There are three key phases of activity. They are:
Pre – Disaster:
Before a disaster to lessen the possible for human, material or environmental losses caused by hazards and to ensure that these losses are minimized when the disaster actually strikes.
Ensuring the needs and provisions of sufferers are met to alleviate and minimize suffering.
After a disaster to achieve rapid and durable recovery which does not reproduce the original vulnerable conditions
Conventionally people believe of disaster management only in term of the emergency relief period and post disaster rehabilitation. Instead of allocated funds before an event to ensure prevention and preparedness. A successful disaster management planning must encompass the situation that occurs before, during and after disasters.
Pre – Disaster Phase
Prevention and Mitigation
Lessening the danger of disasters involves actions, which either reduce or modify the scale and intensity of the threat faced or by improving the conditions of elements at risk.
Although the term “prevention” is often used to embrace the wide diversity of measures to protect persons and property its use is not recommended since it is misleading in its implicit suggestion that natural disasters are preventable. The use of the phrase reduction to explain defensive or preventive actions that lessen the scale of impact is therefore preferred. Mitigation holds all ways taken to decrease both the effects of the hazard itself and the vulnerable situation to it in order to diminish the scale of a upcoming disaster. In addition to these physical methods, mitigation should also be aimed at decreasing the physical, economic and social vulnerability to threats and the underlying causes for this vulnerability. Therefore, mitigation may include tackle issues such as possession of property, tenancy rights, wealth distribution, implementation of earthquake resistant building codes, etc.
This brings us to the all-important issue of disaster preparedness. The process embraces measures that enable governments, communities and individuals to respond rapidly to disaster situations to cope with them effectively. Preparedness includes for example, the formulation of viable emergency plans, the development of warning systems, the maintenance of inventories, public awareness and education and the training of personnel. It may also embrace search and rescue measures as well as evacuation plans for areas that may be „at risk‟ from a recurring disaster. All preparedness planning needs to be supported by appropriate rules and regulations with clear allocation of responsibilities and budgetary provision.
This is the process of monitoring the situation in communities or areas known to be vulnerable to slow onset hazards, and passing the knowledge of the pending hazard to people in harm’s way. To be effective, warnings must be related to mass education and training of the population who know what actions they must take when warned.
The Disaster Impact
This refers to the “real-time event of a hazard occurring and affecting elements at risk. The duration of the event will depend on the type of threat; ground shaking may only occur in a matter of seconds during an earthquake while flooding may take place over a longer sustained period.
During Disaster Phase
This refers to the first stage response to any calamity, which include for examples such as setting up control rooms, putting the contingency plan in action, issue warning, action for evacuation, taking people to safer areas, rendering medical aid to the needy etc., simultaneously rendering relief to the homeless, food, drinking water, clothing etc. to the needy, restoration of communication, disbursement of aid in cash or kind. The crisis relief activities undertaken during and immediately following a disaster, which includes immediate relief, rescue, and the damage needs assessment and debris clearance.
The Post- disaster Phase
Recovery is used to describe the activities that encompass the three overlapping phases of emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Rehabilitation includes the provision of temporary public utilities and housing as interim measures to assist long-term recovery.
Reconstruction attempts to return communities to improved pre-disaster functioning. It includes such as the replacement of buildings; infrastructure and lifeline facilities so that long-term development prospects are enhanced rather than reproducing the same conditions, which made an area or population vulnerable in the first place.
In an evolving economy, the development process is an ongoing activity. Long term prevention/disaster reduction measures for examples like construction of embankments against flooding, irrigation facilities as drought proofing measures, increasing plant cover to reduce the occurrences of landslides, land use planning, construction of houses capable of withstanding the onslaught of heavy rain/wind speed and shocks of earthquakes are some of the activities that can be taken up as part of the development plan.