COUNTRY REPORT ON INDIA: PART-BSOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OFTHE CLIMATIC CHANGE IN INDIA
Professor Tarun Das, IILM, New Delhi-110003.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world’s environment, societyand economy today. Its impact can already be seen across the globe, and no country will be immune. As climate change impacts on the economy and growth are inevitable, theneed to adapt to the changing climate becomes more pressing, not just in the way we live, but in the way we do development.
Natural disasters are the most adverse outcomes of climatic changes. Since the dawn of civilization, human society and the natural disasters have been closely interlinked. Thesenatural disasters lead to heavy losses of human lives and property and are serious threatsto sustainable environment. In the past twenty years, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,landslides, floods, tropical storms, droughts and other natural calamities killed over 3million people, inflicted injury, disease, homelessness and misery on another one billion people, and caused billions of dollars of material damage. Statistically, 90% of the totaldisasters and 95% of the total disaster related deaths worldwide occur in developingcountries whereas the fraction of GNP lost is estimated to be twenty times greater than inindustrialized countries.By the year 2025, 80% of the world's population will reside in developing countries, andit has been estimated that up to 60% of these people are highly vulnerable to floods,severe storms and earthquakes. Natural disaster areas are well known. Yet, the response to disasters and environmentalthreats are reactive and are characterized by increased defensive activities. As a result,when a disaster strikes there is an evidence of lack of trained persons to coordinatedisaster relief activities.The issues of immediate concerns are availability of potable water, restoring of food andfuel supply lines, re-establishing transport and communication links, providing medicalrelief and rebuilding of key infrastructure such as health centers, food storage godownsetc. The medium and long-term concerns of reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster victims is a even more challenging task, since it involves continuous support for anumber of years.What is however needed to tackle natural disasters is a comprehensive approach todisaster management. The approach involves four phases: