Natural Disasters

Since India’s independence in 1947, It has witnessed 321 different incidents of natural disasters, as reported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The same reports state that 79,732 people have lost their lives in such incidents while the lives of over 108 crore people were affected. Such shocking numbers raise a serious question in our minds, ‘Is India well prepared for natural disasters?’

Vulnerability to natural disasters

The Bay of Bengal on the eastern coast and the Arabian Sea along the western coastlines of the country make it highly prone to cyclones and tsunamis. The hilly northern regions often witness landslides and related accidents. Floods are a common feature during the Indian Monsoon. As a result, natural disasters are frequent occurrences in this nation. 

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, around 40 million hectares of land in India is exposed to floods (about 12 percent of the total land area), 68 percent of the land is vulnerable to droughts, landslides, and avalanches, 58.6 percent landmass is earthquake-prone, and tsunamis and cyclones are a regular phenomenon for 5,700 km of the 7,516-km long coastline. 

Impact of natural disasters on India

Over the years, thousands of people have lost their lives to such accidents. Not just these disasters take the lives of thousands of people, those who survive have to face severe consequences. Many who survive are left homeless and moneyless. 

These calamities are also the cause of several diseases, including diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, malaria, leptospirosis, measles, dengue fever, viral hepatitis, typhoid fever, meningitis, and tetanus, and cutaneous mucormycosis. 

National Disaster Management Authority

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), is the apex body for Disaster Management in India. It is headed by the Prime Minister of India. NDMA is mandated to lay down the policies, plans, and guidelines for Disaster Management. India envisions the development of an ethos of Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, and Response. 

Even after the formation of NDMA, natural disasters have been successful in causing colossal damage to lives and the nation’s economy. We thus ask ourselves, what are the ways in which we can minimize the damage caused by any disaster.

Urbanization and Research 

Planned urbanization can save thousands of lives, as Japan has proved over the years. However, we still haven’t taken the right steps in that direction. About 80 percent of the total buildings in Delhi still cannot withstand a seismic earthquake.

Many projects and funds were raised, but most of them are in the development phase and nowhere close to completion. More research in the field of seismology can save thousands of lives in the coming years. The authorities have been often found guilty of taking action late. Their efforts can do little to comfort the affected yet can be very helpful.

Communication System

Poor communication systems and connectivity cause massive damage during any calamity. During floods and landslides, many people lose their lives simply because they can’t contact the rescue teams on time and inform them about their location. 

This also leads to unawareness and confusion among those who are stuck in the affected areas. They are therefore unable to give their full cooperation to rescue teams. Lack of awareness and education in this populous nation is another cause of the significant number of deaths. 

Many, especially the poor, are still oblivious to basic precautions they should take during such calamities and don’t even have basic first-aid kits ready with them. There is a need for higher-resolution satellite images for better planning.

Conclusion

Odhisa prepared for natural disasters
Source of image: Yourstory

The Odisha Model of cyclone management has received praises from all over the world as the state has efficiently battled numerous cyclones over the past few years. This is not the result of a one-day action but a gradual action taken over a long time.

 Community-level warning, multi-purpose cyclone shelters, and Early Warning Dissemination System are key features of this model. Many states have taken inspiration from this. Though, at present, our nation is not entirely equipped to fight natural disasters. we may expect that to happen soon in the future.

By Ishita

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