Thursday, October 22, 2009


Almost half of India is multi-disaster prone

It is rightly said that mother nature is ruthlessly non – discriminating. It never makes any distinction between socio-economic status, colour, caste or creed. If Hurricane Katrina brought the world's richest and mightiest nation to a complete halt, then Tsunami reduced the poor and the developing countries to ruins. After Hurricane Katrina or Rita, the US was able to soon bounce back on track, thanks to their resolve and their centralised disaster management system. Tragically, that did not happen to this part of the world. Here, in spite of disaster being almost an annual affair, it’s still treated as an ‘unpredictable agony’ of nature. Going by trends, it does not require any technical background to forecast the natural disasters in India- especially the annual floods and cyclones in the eastern belt.

When it comes to natural disasters, the government never hesitates to allocate relief funds to the affected area; however a huge fraction of this fund never reaches the aggrieved party. Talking in numbers, the total damage and losses suffered by people in south Goa on account of recent floods stands at Rs.131 crore. The floods in the Krishna river damaged crops extensively resulting in an estimated loss of Rs.1, 250 crore in Hyderabad alone while the total loss in Andhra Pradesh is pegged at Rs 12,225 crore leaving 2.5 million people homeless. The neighbourhood state, Karnataka, lost Rs.16, 500 crore to the flood. Even the floods in Bihar left around 2 million people homeless destroying property worth some Rs 1500 crore. As per the Central Water Commission, the average loss due to floods every year is nothing less than Rs 2700 crore. However, floods destroy much more property and life which is way beyond any statistics, as no exact data of loss of life and property is ever available. The same can be iterated for cyclonic destructions. And if you think this is how water washes away country’s resources then ‘no-water’ is even worse. The Karnataka government is projected to have lost about Rs 871 crore due to drought alone. Himachal Pradesh is experiencing a drought loss to the tune of Rs 100 crore. The Jharkhand government had in August this year, pleaded a relief package of about Rs. 400 crore for fighting drought-hit areas. Overall, around 161 out of 604 districts have suffered from drought this year.

India still lacks a kind of central integrated disaster management system, unlike West. For instance in the US, everything from early warning messages, evacuation plans and state insurance are in place to reduce the loss well before the disaster can hit the city. In India, it’s rare that any evacuation plan or early warning message is executed. In spite of being well versed with India’s fragile demography, the disaster management cell never wakes up on time. Although a major portion of the Ganga river basin is flood-prone, nothing much has been done for the nearby inhabitants. As per flood control officials, an average of 18.6 million hectare of land is flooded annually. Despite Rs. 8000 crore being allocated for this area, only about 15,000 hectares have been protected from flood. Nearly 22 states and UT are as disaster prone with 30 per cent of the total area being drought prone and 57 per cent to seismic activity. India’s 8,040 km long coastline faces cyclone almost every year.

Given all this fact, it’s very important to have an integrated approach for disaster management. Back of envelope calculation indicates that investment to overhaul disaster management will be far less than total cumulative losses. And above all, there is a need to bring in a paradigm shift in the perception that natural disaster can’t be predicated, especially in India..



  1. Hi Sir! Nice reading you again. Fortunately or unfortunately, nature has been and would be playing its role as we keep on instigating it.

    I guess by the time we develop systemic thinking, we would no longer need it.

  2. That indicates, Policy makers are not taking actions keeping figures and calculations into accounts.

    Someone has to be accountable and responsible for failures and accordingly, career/future should be affected.

    Its time the Indian System gets stricter with Politicians, like never before.

    That's showing off their operational immaturity and un professionalism who are not worth being regarded as credible people.

    Open, web based, Performance tracking and evaluation system of MPs is the need of the hour.

    Implementation of Agenda Management System like:
    is the need of the hour.