Towards a safer J&K

Disaster mitigation should be part of the development process



India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been a recurrent phenomenon. About 60 percent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8 percent of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68 percent of the area is susceptible to drought. In the decade 1990-2000, an average of about 4344 people lost their lives and about 30 million people were affected by disasters every year. The loss in terms of private, community and public assets has been astronomical.
At the global level, there has been considerable concern over natural disasters. Even as substantial scientific and material progress is made, the loss of lives and property due to disasters has not decreased. In fact, the human toll and economic losses have mounted. It was in this background that the United Nations General Assembly, in 1989, declared the decade 1990-2000 as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction with the objective to reduce loss of lives and property and restrict socio-economic damage through concerted international action, especially in developing countries. The super cyclone in Orissa in October, 1999 and the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat in January, 2001 underscored the need to adopt a multi dimensional endeavor involving diverse scientific, engineering, financial and social processes; the need to adopt multi disciplinary and multi sectoral approach and incorporation of risk reduction in the developmental plans and strategies.
 Over the past couple of years, the Government of J &K has brought about a paradigm shift in its approach towards disaster management. The new approach should proceed from the conviction that development cannot be sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built into the development process. Another corner stone of the approach is that mitigation has to be multi-disciplinary spanning across all sectors of development. It is also evident that investments in mitigation are much more cost effective than expenditure on relief and rehabilitation.  Disaster management should occupy an important place in our states policy framework as it is the poor and the under-privileged who are worst affected on account of calamities and disasters.
In the rural areas the bulk of the housing is non-engineered construction. The mode of construction in the rural areas has also changed from mud and thatch to brick and concrete construction thereby increasing the vulnerability. The increasing population has led to settlements in vulnerable areas close to the river bed areas which are prone to liquefaction. The Government should address these issues.
 A Disaster Risk Management Program has been taken up with the assistance from UNDP, USAID and European Union in 169 most hazard prone districts in 17 States including all the eight North Eastern State in India.
The program components include awareness generation and public education, preparedness, planning and capacity building, developing appropriate policies, institutional, administrative, legal and techno-legal regime at State, District, Block, village, urban local body and ward levels for vulnerability reduction. Our state needs to follow same policy to ensure safety. Disaster Management has to be a multi-disciplinary and proactive approach. Besides various measures for putting in place institutional and policy framework, disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness enunciated   and initiatives being taken by the Central and State Governments, the community, civil society organizations and media also have a key role to play in achieving our goal of moving together towards a safer J&K. In order to move towards safer and sustainable national development, development projects should be sensitive towards disaster mitigation.

 (The author is an expert in environment and waste Management, occupational safety, health and pollution control and an empanelled expert in Indo European Chamber and commerce & Industry. Feedback at

Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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