“We all know that we cannot prevent most of these disasters but we can certainly prepare ourselves and

be
better equipped to withstand these calamities”
A review of the headlines from the recent times remind us how often a crisis can strike in the workplace, at
home and in any part of our country. India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of
its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been recurrent
phenomena. About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million
hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible
to drought. The super cyclone in Orissa in October, 1999, the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat in January, 2000, the
Tsunami in the coastal States and the Earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir underscored that even as substantial
scientific and material progress has been made, the loss of lives and property due to disasters has not
correspondingly decreased. In fact, the human toll and economic losses have mounted. At the global level also,
there has been considerable concern over natural disasters.
In view of the increasing importance of disaster management, there is a need for us civil engineers to look into
various aspects of disaster management, with particular emphasis on putting in place an efficient institutional
mechanism, and recommending specific measures that would help in disaster management.
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As we all know an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 on the Richter scale occurred on 8 October, 2005 at 0920
hours with its epicentre located at Muzaffarabad. Because of its impact, large parts of the State of Jammu &
Kashmir were affected causing loss of lives and extensive damage to property. The earthquake also affected
some parts of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and its impact was felt in most parts of Northern India. The State
of Jammu & Kashmir has been the worst affected. Uri and Tangdhar in Baramulla and Kupwara districts
respectively bore the brunt of the earthquake and reported heavy casualties in terms of human lives and
extensive damage to property. More than 1300 people lost their lives in the State, more than 6000 persons
were injured, and more than 40,000 houses were damaged. The State Governments, Government of India,
Armed Forces and Central Para Military Forces have responded promptly to the situation by providing relief
material for the earthquake affected areas. But let us not forget that it was the local community and the local
administration that provided immediate relief. The State Government of Jammu and Kashmir, our armed
forces, and the voluntary organisations need to be complimented for their efforts, which have won them
international accolades.
Disaster management-the international scenario:
Disasters do not respect national boundaries. Each year there are major natural and man made disasters which
cause heavy loss of human lives and destruction of properties. The international community has also
recognized disaster management as a top priority item. The Yokohama message emanating from the
international decade for natural disaster reduction in May 1994 underlined the need for an emphatic shift in
the strategy for disaster mitigation. It was inter-alia stressed that disaster prevention, mitigation,
preparedness and relief are four elements which contribute to and gain, from the implementation of the
sustainable development policies. These elements along with environmental protection and sustainable
development, are closely inter related. Therefore, nations should incorporate them in their development
plans and ensure efficient follow up measures at the community, sub-regional, regional, national and
international levels. The Yokohama Strategy also emphasized that disaster prevention, mitigation and
preparedness are better than disaster response in achieving the goals and objectives of vulnerability
reduction. Disaster response alone is not sufficient as it yields only temporary results at a very high
cost. Prevention and mitigation contribute to lasting improvement in safety and are essential to integrated
disaster management.
A review of the Yokohama strategy was carried out recently. The review stressed the importance of disaster
risk reduction being underpinned by a more pro-active approach to informing, motivating and involving people

is an investment for the future with substantial returns. multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction should be factored into policies. (d) Reducing underlying risk factors. resources and authority to implement actions for disaster risk reduction. and education and training. early warning. (b) Risk identification. An integrated. assessment. (c) Knowledge management and education. There is a need to enhance international and regional cooperation and assistance in the field of disaster risk reduction. age.in all aspects of disaster risk reduction in their own local communities. A gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies. planning and programming related to sustainable development. property and livelihoods. The promotion of a culture of prevention. contribute to the sustainability of development. especially least developed countries and small island developing States. including those related to risk assessment. It also highlighted the scarcity of resources allocated specifically from development budgets for the realization of risk reduction objectives. Disaster-prone developing countries. in a way that will build community resilience and reduce vulnerability to future disaster risks. as appropriate. relief. monitoring and early warning. which is characterized by increasing commitment to disaster reduction. The following were the important findings of the review: The Principles contained in the Yokohama Strategy retain their full relevance in the current context.9 Keeping in view the fact that often children and women suffered the most in such situations. Cultural diversity. and vulnerable groups should be taken into account when planning for disaster risk reduction. which often greatly exceed their capacity to respond to and recover from disasters. bearing in mind that the phases of relief. There is also a need for proactive measures. either at the national or the regional level or through international cooperation and financial mechanisms. warrant particular attention in view of their higher vulnerability and risk levels. and recovery activities in post-disaster and post-conflict situations in disaster-prone countries. (e) Preparedness for effective response and recovery. rehabilitation. Specific gaps and challenges are identified in the following five main areas: (a) Governance: organizational. and are far more cost-effective in strengthening coping mechanisms than is primary reliance on post-disaster response and recovery. including through the mobilization of adequate resources for disaster risk reduction. Risk assessment and early warning systems are essential investments that protect and save lives. rehabilitation and reconstruction following a disaster are windows of opportunity for the rebuilding of livelihoods and for the planning and reconstruction of physical and socio-economic structures. . legal and policy frameworks. communities and local authorities should be empowered to manage and reduce disaster risk by having access to the necessary information. plans and decisionmaking processes. information management.

iv. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) instituted under the Act will work in accordance with all . The new approach proceeds from the conviction that development cannot be sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built into the development process.Disaster risk reduction is a cross-cutting issue in the context of sustainable development and therefore every effort should be made to use humanitarian assistance in such a way that risks and future vulnerabilities will be lessened as much as possible. innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. Hyogo Japan the following action points were identified. and on the basis of deliberations at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. The most noteworthy step in this direction has been the passage of the National Disaster Management Act. assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning. The changed approach is being put into effect through: Institutional changes Enunciation of policy Legal and techno-legal framework Mainstreaming Mitigation into Development process Funding mechanism Specific schemes addressing mitigation Preparedness measures Capacity building Human Resource Development Community participation. v. Another corner stone of the approach is that mitigation has to be multi-disciplinary spanning across all sectors of development. Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation. iii. The Government of India has brought about a paradigm shift in the approach to disaster management. i. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels. The new policy also emanates from the belief that investments in mitigation are much more cost effective than expenditure on relief and rehabilitation. Use knowledge. in 2005 in Kobe. Reduce the underlying risk factors. Identify. Drawing on the conclusions of the review of the Yokohama Strategy. ii. The new approach in India: We in India have also kept pace with the international developments.

We can draw lessons from countries like Japan. the first response to disaster. ii. District Administration & Community Toning up the cutting edge: Whatever institutional mechanism we may put in place. Delayed response due to mismanagement of relief. NCC should not be lost sight of. The change in the policy and approach to natural calamities has necessitated a shift to pre-disaster aspects of mitigation. Specialised agencies in the field: The National Disaster Management Act stipulates the setting up of a National Disaster Response Force. Home Guards. We expect the deliberations in this workshop would result in practical. it is the collapse of houses and buildings that leads to casualties. the creation of a National Disaster Response Force. whatever technology may be inducted. delegation v. It is here that better building practices. In keeping with this shift. Conclusion: I would conclude my talk by giving some suggestions. . Some of the problems in the past have been: i. But it is worth mentioning that earthquakes by themselves do not kill.other institutions spread across the country to anticipate the disaster and prevent it from causing huge damage. We need to learn from them and there is also a need to upscale them. There are provisions in the Act for the constitution of a National Institute of Disaster Management. Such Authorities are to come up at the State and District levels as well. Lack of mitigation planning iii. n A holistic and proactive approach is required towards disaster management.. as a result earthquakes and landslides are quite common. The effect of landslides is local but the impact of earthquakes is quite widespread. having suitable building bye-laws etc can be of great help. Lack of communication networking and dissemination of information among states iv. But at the same time we should be cautious that the existing agencies like the Civil Defence. new institutional mechanisms are being put in place. manpower and duty Lack of Interface and Coordination with State. This would certainly help in relief and rescue measures. Lack of disaster preparedness at all levels. preventive measures have to be taken by the community and the local administration. I am sure that there have been several good practices that have been adopted by various States. The easiest way to tackle earthquakes is to have buildings that are earthquake-proof. where earthquakes are more frequent but because of better planning and preparedness they have be able to mitigate the hardships caused by earthquakes. through well out policies and institutional arrangements. Therefore our focus in the workshop was to deliberate on making the field organizations effective and empowering the community in all aspects of disaster management ranging from preventive measures to rehabilitation. This is easier said than done. improved technologies. to a large extent. The concept is that disaster should be anticipated and preparation to deal with them should be made before they occur. From our past experiences we have learnt many lessons in disaster management. National Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Mitigation Fund. solutions. Territorial Army. the major threat in the region: The entire Himalayan region is seismically very active. prevention and preparedness. Earthquakes. resources. that too in the golden hour comes from the community and the local administration.

Local Self Governments to play the crucial role. . n Regular training and drills organized through local-self Governments n Preparation of inventory of local resources and their management. media and Govt. As it is they who suffer the most. I thank one and all for making this conference a grand success. which would inspire to become the recommendations of the towards mitigating hardships caused by disasters. NGO. Disaster Management Teams [DMTs] and Volunteer Task Forces [VTFs] n Roles and responsibilities to be defined in the Disaster Management Plan/code. n Youth Organizations and Student Bodies like NCC/NSS/ Scouts & Guides to be provided training in Emergency Response and Awareness Generation. Also. n Protecting the interests of the vulnerable sections. n Close interaction between corporate sector. the Civil Engineering dept of NIT Trichy will continue with a number of initiatives such as its public education and community outreach programmes which include interactive sessions with the private sector. n Disaster Management to be made an essential component of initial training for Government functionaries. n Making realistic disaster management plans.n Community involvement & awareness generation. community groups and educational institutions I hope the conference delivered valuable suggestions. n All hazard-prone areas to have community-based disaster preparedness plans—Disaster Management Committees [DMCs]. Community to be made the first line of defence. n Media professionals to be sensitized and encouraged to integrate Disaster Management components in different programmes for public awareness. In the upcoming months. Keeping them updated through mock drills.