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DISASTERS IN INDIA



NATURAL DISASTERS

Humans have been coping with natural disasters since time immemorial. There are
so many disaster which can not be controlled by human intervention. They are
destined to bring their tragic consequences of human destruction. Due to human
intervention in the natural processes, the destructive power and frequency of natural
disasters have increased considerably. According to U N statistics, natural disasters
kill 1,00,000 persons on an average and cause property damage of Rs 20,000
crores world wide per year. Among the top ten natural disaster-prone countries,
India stands second after China.Therefore, there is a need for creating awareness
among all sections of the people about it’s causes, consequences as well as
preventive measures so that they can handle as an individual, and as a members of
society.



 DISASTERS IN INDIA – A BACKGROUND

India is struggling with disasters from many years. How can we forget the day
when killer waves (tsunami) struck the coastal parts of India on 26th December
2004 or the morning of 26th January 2001, when western part of India was
badly affected by earthquake. These are just few examples. We always listen
such kind of news in print or electronic media that one part of India is affected
by flood where as another faces drought.
Due to vulnerability of different kinds of disasters, it is said that India is a disaster
prone country, the reasons are:
1. Over 55% of the land area is vulnerable to earthquakes,
2. 12% is flood prone,
3. 8% is vulnerable to cyclones and
4. 70% of the land under cultivation is drought prone.


NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS


The vulnerability of enviornment has been increasing continuously due to human
activities. But this is not one sided relationship. Humans are also the components
of the enviornment. Hence they can’t escape from the effects of environmental
change processes. When local, regional or global processes of environment pose
danger to humans or their property, they are simply natural events. For example,
the blizzard blowing in the Antarctica is a natural event. But if this blizzard porses
dangers to our lives and property, then it becomes a disaster.
For instance, tsunami was caused by an earthquake that occurred in the sea near
Sumatra (Indonesia) on 26 December, 2004. It turned into a disaster for India,
Srilanka and some other countries of Southeast Asia. It caused wide spread loss
to human life and property in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and on the coasts of
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

FLOODS

With the arrival of Monsoon, people living in 4 crore hectares area of the country
become extremely nervous. No one knows when there will be a flood in the river
and their hard earned belongings will be washed away. In comparison to other
disasters flood cause more damage to life and property. Twenty percent of deaths
caused by floods in the world, occur in India.

What is a flood ?

The inundation of an area by water is called a flood. In other words, when a river
over flows its banks and water spreads in the surrounding areas is a flood. Various
causes of flood, losses by flood and flood control measures are described below:
Cause of flood


The causes of flood in India are as follows:

(i) Heavy rainfall : Heavy rain in the catchment area of a river causes water to
over flow its banks, which results in the flooding of nearby areas.

(ii) Sediment deposition : River beds become shallow due to sedimentation.
The water carrying capacity of such river is reduced. As a result the heavy
rain water over flows the river banks.

(iii) Deforestation : Vegetation hampers the flow of water and forces it to
percolate in the ground. As a result of deforestation, the land becomes
obstruction free and water flows with greater speed into the rivers and causes
flood.

(iv) Cyclone : Cyclone generated seawaves of abnormal height spreads the water
in the adjoining coastal areas. In October 1994 Orissa cyclone generated
severe floods and caused unprecedented loss of life and property.

(v) Interference in drainage system: Drainage congestion caused by badly
planned construction of bridges, roads, railway tracks, canals etc. hampers
the flow of water and the result is flood.

(vi) Change in the course of the river: Meanders and change in the course of
the river cause floods.

(vii)Tsunami : Large coastal areas are flooded by rising sea water, when a tsunami
strikes the coast.

Losses by flood : Humans and animals both are affected by flood. People are
rendered homeless. Houses are damaged or collapse. Industries are crippled.
Crops are submerged in flood water. Domestic as well as wild animals die. Boats
and fishing nets etc. are lost or damaged in coastal areas. Out break of epidemics
like malaria and diarrhoea etc. are common after flood. Potable water is
contaminated and sometimes becomes scarce. Food grains are lost or spoiled,
their supplies from outside become difficult.

Losses by annual floods, instead of decreasing are increasing every year. In 1953
2.43 crores of people were affected. By 1987 the number of flood affected people
rose to 4.83 crore.

According to an estimate on an-average property worth Rs. 210 crores is lost in
floods every year. Flood affects about 6 crore people and crops of one crore
hectare are damaged.

Flood prone areas : About 4 crore hectare area of our country is flood-prone,
which is one eighth of the total area. The most flood prone areas are the Brahmputra,
Ganga and Indus basins. As far as states are concerned, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,
West Bengal and Orissa are the most flood affected states followed by Haryana,
Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. Now a days Rajasthan and Gujarat also feel the fury

of floods. Karnataka and Maharashtra are no-longer immune to floods.

Flood control measures :

(i) Reservoirs : By constructing reservoirs in the courses of rivers could stores
extra water at the time of flood. Such measures adopted till now however,
have not been successful. Dams built to control floods of Damodar could not
control the flood.

(ii) Embankments : By building flood protection embankments, floods water

can be controlled from overflowing the banks and spreading in near by areas.

Building of embankments on Yamuna, near Delhi, has been successful in
controlling the flood.

(iii) Afforestation : The furry of flood could be minimized by planting trees in
catchment areas of rivers.

(iv) Restoration of original drainage system : Drainage system is generally
choked by the construction of roads, canals railway tracks etc. Floods could
be checked if the original form of drainage system is restored.

Flood Management : About 4 crore hectare area is flood prone. Out of this,
1.44 crore hectare areas has been made secure to some extent from the devastation
by floods. To achieve this goal, embankments and drainge channels have been
constructed. Protection of towns and cities have been adopted. Villages are
relocated on comparative by higher ground. By the end of Ninth Plan 8000 crore
rupees have been spent on flood management.


Some do’s and donts before, during and after the flood

(i) Listen to the radio for advance information and advise.
(ii) Disconnect all electrical appliances, move all valuable household goods and
clothing out of reach of flood water. Adopt such measures only when there is
a forecast of flood or you suspect that flood water may reach the house.
(iii) Move vehicles, farm animals and moveable goods to the higher ground.
(iv) Prevent dangerous pollution.
(v) Keep all insecticides, pesticides etc. out of the reach of flood water.
(vi) Switch off electricity and gas, in case you have to leave the house.
(vii) Lock all door and windows if you have to leave the house.
(viii) Do not enter flood water on foot or in a vehicle as far as possible.

(ix) Never wander in the flooded area on your own.
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