FLOOD PREPAREDNESS PLANNING Introduction Disaster means a catastrophe, a calamity or mishap, a grave occurrence, which causes a serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses exceeding the ability of the affected society to cope using only its resources Due to its unique geo-climatic conditions, India is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. 24 out of 35 States and Union Territories are vulnerable to one or the other geo-climatic disaster. Over 55% of landmass is vulnerable to earthquakes, 8% to cyclone, 5% to floods and 70% of the land under cultivation is vulnerable to drought. The loss in terms of lives and assets has been incalculable. A disaster wipes out the gains achieved in decades of development in the affected area. Repeated disasters threaten sustainable development. In the past twenty years, earthquakes, floods, tropical storms, droughts and other calamities have killed more than 3 million people globally, inflicted injury, disease, homelessness and misery on one billion others and caused damages worth millions of rupees. Disasters destroy decades of human effort and investments, thereby placing new demands on society for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Disasters are either natural, such as floods, droughts, cyclones and earthquakes, or human-made such as riots, conflicts and others like fire, epidemic, industrial accidents and environmental fallouts. Globally, natural disasters account for nearly 80% of all disaster affected people. According to the insurance company estimates, natural disasters represent 85% of insured catastrophe losses. If one adds the losses in countries like India, where most of the property of the people, especially in the rural areas remains uninsured, the losses are astronomical. The unique geo-environmental setting of the North eastern region vis-à-vis the Eastern Himalayas, the heavy rainfall, weak geological formations, accelerated rates of erosion followed by silting and meandering of rivers, very high seismicity makes the North East one of the most disaster prone regions in the country. Considering this, and the comparative inaccessibility, the North-eastern region demands special attention to minimize loss of lives and social, private and community losses and to ensure sustainable development. Vulnerability to natural disasters combined with socio-economic vulnerability of the people living in the region pose a great challenge to the government machinery and underscores the need for a comprehensive plan for disaster preparedness and mitigation. Training and capacity building of the officials dealing with emergencies would be an important instrument of disaster reduction and recovery.
While natural hazards cannot be controlled, the vulnerability to these hazards can be reduced by planned mitigation and preparedness measures. There needs to be concerted and sustained steps towards reducing the vulnerability of the community to disasters. Taking into consideration the value of development gains which are wiped out through disasters, as also the huge quantum of funds required for post disaster relief and rehabilitation, any investment in disaster mitigation will yield a higher rate of return than any other development project. Also considering the developmental gains, which are wiped out because of disasters, all development schemes/projects will need to incorporate disaster assessment and vulnerability reduction as critical components in order that the development process be sustainable. Therefore, a paradigm shift has now taken place with the shift in focus from reactive to proactive ie from relief to prevention and mitigation of disasters. In the Government of India, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the Nodal Ministry for disaster management except for drought, which because of its nature will continue to be handled by the Ministry of Agriculture. Where a calamity/disaster pertains to a specific...
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