Public Policy Towards Natural Disasters in India Assignment

Public Policy Towards Natural Disasters in India Assignment Words: 3742

Any other form of reproduction, storage in retrieval system or transmission by any means requires prior permission from CUBA. (For private circulation only. ) Executive Summary Natural disasters have always been there since the beginning of human violations, but their impact on human beings has been on the rise the world over. Natural disasters of similar nature and intensity, however, affect the developed and underdeveloped countries differently in terms of the damage Of property and loss Of lives caused.

While the developed countries are well- equipped to cope with them through well functioning disaster mitigation, preparedness and response mechanisms; the developing countries, liquefied in terms of each of the above three parameters, suffer most because of natural disasters. The worst affected in such disasters, in any entry, are undoubtedly the poor and the marginal’s sections of the society. Not only are they most vulnerable to losses from disasters, their ability to recover from the shock brought by a disaster is also the lowest.

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In the aftermath of a disaster, the deprived sections of society face an immediate and acute shortage of resources and lose their access to livelihood in many cases. Also, disasters though specific to one region do not merely affect the people of that particular region. Loss of lives and damage caused to property and resources of various kinds impede the socio-economic velveteen of an entire State/ province and, in some cases, the whole country.

The role played by the state visit-;-visit natural disasters could be divided into some categories, interlinked with each other, which are: disaster mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response, and rehabilitation and recovery. Among all the continents, Asia is considered to be most vulnerable to disasters. During 1991 to 2000, Asia accounted for as much as 83 percent of the population affected by disasters globally. India is highly prone to natural disasters, and the country has experienced very severe natural disasters at jugular intervals.

Among the various types of natural disasters affecting different parts of the country, floods, cyclones, earthquakes and droughts cause maximum damage to life and property; and heat wave, cold wave, avalanches, landslides, fire, and pest attacks are also taking heavy tolls on life and property at regular intervals. The Later earthquake of 1993-94, the Arioso super cyclone of 1999, the Bush earthquake of 2001 , and the Tsunami of December 2004 are some of the most severe natural disasters that have struck the county in the recent past.

In India, the basic responsibility for undertaking rescue, relief and obliteration measures in the event of natural disasters has been that of the State Government concerned. The role of the Central Government has only been supportive, in terms of physical and financial resources and complementary measures in sectors such as transport, warning and inter- State movement of food grains. Relief Manuals and Codes have been available for undertaking emergency operations.

The subject of disaster management does not find any specific mention in any of the three lists (Union, State and Concurrent Lists) in the 7th Schedule of Indian Constitution, here subjects under the Central and State Governments as also subjects that come under both are specified. While rescue, relief and rehabilitation in the event of a natural disaster have been considered to be the direct responsibility of the State Government concerned, the question that needs to be raised is- whether taking adequate measures for disaster mitigation and preparedness should also be deemed as the direct responsibility of the States?

Given that the States’ ability to mobiles financial resources has been much less in comparison to that of the Centre, expenditure commitments of he States have been far greater than that of the Centre, the discretion of the Centre with regard to resource manipulation has increased in the era of economic liberation’s, and that most of the States have been facing an acute fiscal crisis since 1997-98, it is not logical to expect the States to take the major financial burden for the crucial task of managing natural disasters.

All through the post-Independence period, States have been held primarily responsible for relief and rehabilitation activities following natural disasters. However, the responsibility for setting up appropriate disaster management semantics in the country should lie primarily with the Central Government. The national level disaster management plans/ policies formulated by the numerous expert committees do not seem to have translated to better management of natural disasters in practice.

The approach to disaster management has so far been irresponsibility to disasters after they occur. Not much attention has been paid to mitigation. Also, it seems that the important lessons that should have been learnt by the Government apparatus from the severe natural disasters in the past have been ignored, ND some of the important realities in the Indian case have not got adequate emphasis from the policy makers. The entire process of disaster management can be thought of as comprising two distinct phases, biz. Pre-disaster Phase, and Post-disaster Phase.

The Pre- disaster Phase consists of measures relating to disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation, while the Postmaster Phase involves response, rehabilitation and recovery. Many of the developed countries are able to reduce losses from disasters because they are implementing the first phase of the process quite well. Even some of the developing countries have adopted this strategy and registered substantial decline in the losses caused by disasters. In India also, the disaster management apparatus needs to implement the Pre;disaster Phase measures very well.

This does not mean any neglect of the need for relief operations, rather it reflects the understanding that proper disaster mitigation and preparedness efforts can not only reduce the requirement for relief and rehabilitation but also improve the rescue and relief activities significantly. As part of disaster mitigation process, six critical factors namely, event reduction, dissemination of warning, risk avoidance action, necessary hardware, emergency response plan and prompt activation of the emergency response plan, should be planned and implemented in the disaster-prone regions of the country. Out of these six factors, at least two, biz. Assimilation of warning and risk avoidance action, depend crucially on the inhabitants or people in the disaster-prone areas. Hence, with respect to these two Steps at least (in the whole chain of actions in disaster management) the Government apparatus needs to ensure that both planning as well as implementation are people-centric. When we look at the relevant policy documents in India, it emerges clearly that the financing of post-disaster relief and rehabilitation expenditures has had the major chunk iii in the resources allocated by the Government for management of natural disasters over the years.

The mitigation and preparedness measures, which have been financed by the Government, are limited mainly to prevention of droughts and floods only. On the other hand, there has been explicit and very significant dependence by the States on financial resources from multilateral development agencies for mitigation and preparedness measures with regard o all kinds of natural disasters.

We find that the allocation of financial resources by the Government (especially the Central Government) for long- term measures for mitigation and preparedness has been very little, even during the last decade in which India supposedly has changed its approach towards disaster management; and it reflects a very low priority given by the policy makers in the country to long-term measures in the pre-disaster phase. While the entire focus of the Government apparatus in our country (visit–visit coping with natural disasters) has been on post-disaster relief operations, we mind serious lacunae within that sphere of activity as well.

There are serious drawbacks in both planning of the relief operations as well as implementation of the same in the wake of natural disasters. Even in case of a severe disaster like the tsunami of December 2004, which attracted substantial amounts of funds for relief operations from state and non-state actors, the relief measures, in the affected areas of Tamil Nadia State (in India), seem to have been supply-driven rather than being driven by the demands/ needs of the victims.

In the Madman & Nicolai Islands, the government apparatus seems o have ignored completely the differential needs of disabled people in the wake of the tsunami. Similarly, it was found in many of the affected areas in Tamil Nadia that the government apparatus providing relief had not taken into account the differential needs of women. The intervention of the civil society also was found wanting for several reasons. Thus, there is an urgent need for focusing the relief efforts on most vulnerable sections among the affected population.

Lack of accountability of those implementing the relief measures on the ground is one of the major reasons for the limited effectiveness of relief operations in the country. All those taking part in relief operations should be accountable to the disaster-affected people, who should be involved in the decisions that affect them. People in a particular area, affected by a particular disaster, have their own way of coping with that, so it’s essential to include them in planning the relief operations, and ignoring their needs and suggestions can constrain the effectiveness of the rescue and relief efforts significantly.

The state and non-state actors involved in relief activities must inform affected people about all aspects of relief operations ND about their rights -?? through public meetings, mass media or information centers. They must know the views of affected people about their felt needs and priorities for improving relief provision. The present Central Government of India introduced a draft Disaster Management Bill in the Parliament this year. The proposed legislation is riddled with many more complications than would appear at the first sight. Nevertheless, legislative backing for disaster management, at the national level, IS a commendable step.

But we must not forget that the actual commitment of the present Government to setting up a unimpressive and effective disaster management apparatus in the country would reflect from – its willingness to channeling substantial financial resources for this purpose and its ability to learn from the experiences of the past disasters. Contents Page No. Introduction 01 1. Indian’s Vulnerability to Natural Disasters 03 2. Disaster Management Apparatus and Policies in India 08 3. (Mis)management of Natural Disasters in Practice 20 4. Government Financing of Disaster Management 23 5.

Legislation: Can It Be a Panacea? 33 6. The Tsunami Experience: Lest We Forget the Lessons! 39 Concluded ins Remarks 42 End Notes 3 Glossary “The future blue-print for disaster management in India rests on the premise that in today’s society while hazards, both natural or otherwise, are inevitable, the disasters that follow need not be so and the society can be prepared to cope with them effectively whenever they occur” says the Tenth Five Year Plan of Indian . While the vision reflected in the above statement is worth commending, the reality in case of India defies such optimism.

Natural disasters have always been there since the beginning of human civilizations, but their impact on human beings has been on the rise the world over. Enormous expansion of population, industrialization and arbitration across the globe has, on the one hand, forced people towards habitats that are hazardous and vulnerable to natural disasters, and on the other, they have led to unsustainable pressures on resources causing the erosion of natural ecological balance, both of which have intensified the frequency of occurrence as well as damage caused by natural disasters.

In fact, the costs associated with natural disasters across different countries had gone up 14 fold since the assess till the end of the twentieth century. A disaster, natural r man-made, can be defined as “any occurrence that causes damage, economic destruction, loss of human life, deterioration in human life, and deterioration in health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area “3. Hence, in the context of natural disasters, there is a pressing need to situate public policy towards threats of such magnitude.

Natural disasters of similar nature and intensity, however, affect the developed and underdeveloped/developing countries differently in terms of the damage of property and loss of lives caused. While the developed countries are well-equipped to cope with natural disasters through well functioning disaster mitigation, preparedness and response mechanisms; the developing countries, ill-equipped in terms of each of the above three parameters, suffer most because of natural disasters.

For instance, during the decade of the sass, while two-thirds of the victims of natural disasters came from developing countries, just two per cent were from highly developed nations. According to the World Disasters Report, 2002, “from 1992 to 2001, countries of low human development (LED) have accounted for just one-fifth f the total number of disasters, but over half of all disaster fatalities. On an average 13 times more people die per reported disaster in low human development (LED) countries than in countries of high human development (HAD). While the developing countries receive greater setbacks from natural disasters, their resilience to cope with them is also less. The worst affected in natural disasters, in any country, are undoubtedly the poor and the marginal’s sections of the society. Not only are they most vulnerable to losses from natural disasters, their ability to recover from the shock brought by a disaster is also the lowest. In the aftermath of a disaster, the deprived sections of society face an immediate and acute shortage of resources and lose their access to livelihood in many cases.

In a situation where acute levels of socio-economic deprivations still exist in many countries (including India), disasters not only make lives vulnerable, they also exacerbate existing vulnerability. This is apt, perhaps even for 2 developed nations as evidenced by the experience of recent hurricane Strain in the Southern States of the U. S. A. While officially denounced, a great number of people believe that rescue and ‘curative’ action was delayed and on-committal because of larger concentration of people of color in the affected areas (these States are also the poorest in the country).

While the most affluent nation in the world has, by and large, it’s principal problem related to race, Indian’s levels of problems are compounded by simultaneous challenges of caste, class, rural-urban divide, gender and discriminations against minority groups. Thus, in a country like India, public policy towards natural disasters becomes one of the crucial determinants of the welfare capacity of the state. Also, disasters, natural or man-made, though specific to one region do not rely affect the people of that particular region.

Loss of lives and damage caused to property and resources of various kinds impede the socio- economic development of an entire State and, in some cases, the whole country. In fact, according to the current Defense Minister of the country, Shari Prang Musketeer, the country is losing around 2 % of its GAP every year due to the costs associated with relief and rehabilitation packages necessitated by disasters. Therefore, the occurrence of a disaster in any part Of the country necessitates state intervention.

The role played by the state visit–visit natural starters could be divided into some categories, interlinked with each other, which are: Disaster Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Responses, and Rehabilitation and Recovery. India is highly prone to natural disasters, and the country has experienced very severe natural disasters at regular intervals. The devastation caused by the Later earthquake of 1993-94, the Arioso super cyclone of 1999, the Bush earthquake of 2001 , and the widespread drought of 2002- 03 are still etched in public memory.

More recently, while the Tsunami of December 2004 shocked the nation with its massive destruction and added to the list of errors natural hazards faced by the country, the financial capital of the country, Iambi, became a mute spectator to unprecedented misery of its people for days together in the floods of July 2005 which also exposed the acute vulnerability of the big Indian cities to the wrath of nature. With this backdrop, the present paper makes an attempt to gauge the public policy towards natural disasters in India as has been evidenced over the last decade.

In the first section, it presents a brief account of the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters. The second section discusses the extant administrative apparatus and government policies for managing natural disasters. The third section briefly highlights the serious lacunae in both pre-disaster as well as post-disaster state intervention in case of four major natural disasters witnessed in the recent past.

The fourth section of the paper traces the low priority given to disaster mitigation and preparedness measures in terms of resource allocation by the governments in the past. This section also highlights the unjust and unrealistic policies adopted by the Central Government with regard to financing of relief expenditure by States. Fifth section of the paper makes an appraisal of the legislation for disaster management proposed by the Central Government, which is the latest development within the sphere of public policy towards natural disasters in the country.

While the complete lack of forethought and preparedness of the country for a disaster like Tsunami has been fully exposed, there are important lessons to be learnt from the post- Tsunami response of the government machinery and civil society groups to the disaster which has not been as commendable as it was initially portrayed to be. The sixth section of he paper presents a brief account of such lessons. 3 the population affected by disasters globally 10.

And, within Asia, 24 percent of deaths due to disasters occur in India, on account of its size, population and vulnerability. As far as disaster mitigation and preparedness is concerned, almost all committees, policymaking groups and experts discuss disasters as including both natural and man-made disasters. However, in this paper, our focus will be solely on natural disasters. Natural disasters, which can be differentiated from man-made disasters, are those disasters whose direct and principal causes are forces of nature.

Man-made disasters, on the other hand, are such disasters whose direct and principal causes are identifiable human actions, deliberate or otherwise. ) Among the various types of natural disasters affecting different parts of the country, floods, cyclones, earthquakes and droughts cause maximum damage to life and property; and heat wave, cold wave, avalanches, landslides, fire, and pest attacks are also taking heavy tolls on life and property at regular intervals. However, a note on each of the first four seems worthwhile here. . 1 Floods Over 40 million hectare of landmass in India is prone to floods. Nearly 75% f the total annual rainfall is concentrated over a short monsoon season of three to four months from June to September. As a result there is a very heavy discharge from the rivers during this period causing widespread floods. On an average, as much as 6. 7 million hectares of land is flooded annually. The average annual total damage (because of floods) to crop, houses and public utilities during the period 1953-95 was about RSI. 972. O Core.

Flood problem has become chronic in at least 10 States. Indian’s Key Vulnerabilities ; Coastal States, particularly in the East Coast and Gujarat, are vulnerable to cyclones. 4 core hectare land mass is vulnerable to floods. ; 68 per cent of net sown area is vulnerable to drought. ; 55 per cent of total area is in Seismic Zones Ill-V, and vulnerable to earthquakes. ; Sub-Himalayan/ Western Ghats is vulnerable to landslides. Source: Planning Commission of India, Tenth Five Year Plan document. 4 1. 2 cyclones India has a very long coastline of 5700 Km. Which is exposed to tropical cyclones arising in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The Indian Ocean is one of the six major cyclone-prone regions in the world. In India cyclones occur usually between April and May, and also between October and December. The Eastern coastline is more prone to cyclones as about 80 percent of total cyclones generated in the region hit there. In the recent past the Andorra Pradesh cyclone of November 1977 and the super cyclone of Arioso in the year 1 999 are considered among the worst, in which at least 1 0,000 people lost their lives in both the cases.

The impact of the cyclones is mainly confined to the coastal districts, the maximum destruction being within 100 Km. From the centre of the cyclones and on either side Of the storm track. The principal dangers from a cyclone are: (I) gales and strong winds, (ii) oriental rain, and (iii) high tidal waves (also known as ‘storm surges’). Most casualties are caused by coastal inundation by tidal waves and storm surges. The worst devastation takes place when and where the peak surge occurs at the time of the high tide. . 3 Earthquakes Earthquake is considered to be one of the Ernst dangerous and destructive natural disasters. The impact of this phenomenon is sudden with little or no warning, making it just impossible to predict it or make arrangements and preparations against damages and collapses of buildings and other man- dad structures (in the immediate time period before an earthquake). About 50-60 percent of total area Of the country is vulnerable to seismic activity Of varying intensities.

Most of the vulnerable regions are generally located in Himalayan and sub- Himalayan belt, and in Madman and Nicolai Islands. The Himalayan mountain ranges are considered to be the world’s youngest fold mountain ranges. The subterranean Himalayas are, therefore, geologically very active. The Himalayan frontal arc, flanked by the Arkansan Yam fold belt in the east and the Shaman fault in the west constitutes one of he most seismically active regions in the world. Four earthquakes exceeding magnitude 8 (on the Richter scale) have occurred in the span of the last 53 years.

After the Earthquake in Later in Maharajah’s in 1 993, which was considered to be least prone to earthquake, no area is considered safe from this disaster. 5 1. 4 Droughts Drought is a situation of less moisture in the soil (which makes the land unproductive) and scarcity of water for drinking irrigation, industrial uses and other purposes, usually caused by deficient/less than average rainfall over a long period of time. It is one of the perennial features in some States of India, such as Restaurants, Arioso, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat etc.

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