Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Issues in India’s Cyclone Management


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tauktae and Yaas

Mains level : Paper 3- Need for long term mitigation measures to deal with the cyclones


The severe cyclones, Tauktae and Yaas, battered India earlier this year. With a rise in the frequency of devastating cyclones, India needs to look at long-term mitigation measures.

India’s vulnerability

  • The Indian coastline is around 7,500 km; there are 96 coastal districts (which touch the coast or are close to it), with 262 million people exposed to cyclones and tsunamis.
  • The World Bank and the United Nations (2010) estimate that around 200 million city residents would be exposed to storms and earthquakes by 2050 in India.
  • Between 1891 and 2020, out of the 313 cyclones crossing India’s eastern and western coasts, the west coast experienced 31 cyclones, while 282 cyclones crossed the east coast.
  • Among the natural disasters, cyclones constituted the second most frequent phenomena that occurred in 15% of India’s total natural disasters over 1999-2020.
  • According to the Global Climate Risk Index report 2021, India ranks the seventh worst-hit country globally in 2019 due to the frequent occurrence of extreme weather-related events.
  • Increase in frequency: According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), 2013 data frequency of cyclones in the coastal States accounting increased by 7%.
  • Factor’s responsible: Increasing sea surface temperatures in the northern Indian Ocean and the geo-climatic conditions in India are the factors responsible for the increase in frequency.

Economic cost

  • Between 1999 and 2020, cyclones inflicted substantial damage to public and private properties, amounting to an increase in losses from $2,990 million to $14,920 million in the absence of long-term mitigation measures.
  • India lost around 2% of GDP and 15% of total revenue over 1999-2020.
  • Between 1999-2020, around 12,388 people were killed, and the damage was estimated at $32,615 million.
  • Cyclones are the second most expensive in terms of the costs incurred in damage, accounting for 29% of the total disaster-related damages after floods (62%).
  • In addition, they are the third most lethal disaster in India after earthquakes (42%) and floods (33%).

Odisha model

  • In the aftermath of the 1999 super cyclone, the Government of Odisha took up various cyclone mitigation measures.
  • These included installing a disaster warning system in the coastal districts, and construction of evacuation shelters in cyclone-prone districts.
  • Other steps were the setting up of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), conducting regular cabinet meetings for disaster preparedness, and building the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF).

Way forward

  • Still, Odisha’s disaster management model is inadequate to minimise the economic losses that result from cyclones.
  • Therefore, the Government of India should adopt a few measures to minimise disaster damage and fatalities.
  • Improve warning system: It is imperative to improve the cyclone warning system and revamp disaster preparedness measures.
  • Increase cover under shelterbelt plantation: The Government must widen the cover under shelterbelt plantations and help regenerate mangroves in coastal regions to lessen the impact of cyclones.
  • In addition, adopting cost-effective, long-term mitigation measures, including building cyclone-resilient infrastructure such as constructing storm surge-resilient embankments, canals and improving river connectivity to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas are important.
  • Disaster resilient power infrastructure: installing disaster-resilient power infrastructure in the coastal districts, providing concrete houses to poor and vulnerable households, and creating massive community awareness campaigns are essential.
  • Coordination between Centre-State: Healthy coordination between the Centre and the States concerned is essential to collectively design disaster mitigation measures.
  • Collective mitigation effort by the Centre and States that can help reduce the fiscal burden of States and also be effective in minimising disaster deaths.


Long term mitigation measures are essential to minimise the impact of the disasters such as cyclones.

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Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Declaring a National Calamity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Calamity

Mains level : Disaster management

Under the existing Scheme of State Disaster Response Fund / National Response Fund of the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is no provision to declare any disaster including flood as a National Calamity.

How does the law define a disaster?

  • A natural disaster includes earthquake, flood, landslide, cyclone, tsunami, urban flood, heatwave; a man-made disaster can be nuclear, biological and chemical.
  • As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005, “disaster” means:
  1. A catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or
  2. It results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and
  3. Damage is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

How can any of these be classified as a national disaster?

  • There is no provision, executive or legal, to declare a natural calamity as a national calamity.
  • The existing guidelines of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)/ National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), do not contemplate declaring a disaster as a National Calamity.

Has there ever been an attempt to define a national calamity?

  • In 2001, the National Committee under the chairmanship of the then PM was mandated to look into the parameters that should define a national calamity.
  • However, the committee did not suggest any fixed criterion.

How, then, does the government classify disasters/calamities?

  • The 10th Finance Commission (1995-2000) examined a proposal that a disaster be termed “a national calamity of rarest severity” if it affects one-third of the population of a state.
  • The panel did not define a “calamity of rare severity” but stated that a calamity of rare severity would necessarily have to be adjudged on a case-to-case basis taking into account.

What happens if a calamity is so declared?

  • When a calamity is declared to be of “rare severity/severe nature”, support to the state government is provided at the national level.
  • The Centre also considers additional assistance from the NDRF.
  • A Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) is set up, with the corpus shared 3:1 between Centre and state.
  • When resources in the CRF are inadequate, additional assistance is considered from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF), funded 100% by the Centre.
  • Relief in repayment of loans or for grant of fresh loans to the persons affected on concessional terms, too, are considered once a calamity is declared “severe”.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

Mains level : Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

Fearing any surge in coronavirus cases in the national capital, which is witnessing a decline in cases of infection, the Delhi government has chalked out the ‘Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).’

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

  • In 2014, when a study by the WHO found that Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, panic spread in the Centre and the state government.
  • Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated after several meetings that the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) held with state government and experts.
  • The result was a plan that institutionalized measures to be taken when air quality deteriorates.
  • GRAP also works as an emergency measure.
  • It includes strict measures such as a ban on the entry of heavy vehicles, the odd-even road rationing restrictions, and a halt of construction work – each of which is likely to be impractical at a time when the pandemic has exacted heavy economic costs and public transport has been seen as an infection risk.

For covid purposes

  • This time, it was decided to notify the GRAP that will “objectively and transparently” ensure an “institutional and automatic” response with regards to enforcement measures, lockdowns and unlock activities.
  • The plan was prepared in comparison with ascent data of the four waves at specific positivity rates of 0.5%, 1%, 2% and 5% and also considered on the basis of the earlier four waves.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Compensation for Covid deaths


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Disaster Management Act

Mains level : Compensation for disaster victims and its limitations

The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict seeking compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those who have died of Covid-19 or related complications.  The Centre has stated that state governments cannot afford to pay this, and had argued in favor of a broader approach including health interventions.

Provisions for Compensation

  • Last year, the Centre declared Covid-19 as a notified disaster under the Disaster Management Act.
  • Section 12(iii) of the Act says the National Authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster.
  • It includes “ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life as also assistance on account of damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood”.
  • The Centre revises this amount from time to time.

What is the latest amount?

  • On April 8, 2015, the Disaster Management Division of the Home Ministry wrote to all state governments and attached a revised list of “norms of assistance”.
  • Under “ex gratia payment to families of deceased persons”, it specified: Rs 4 lakh per deceased person including those involved in relief operations or associated in preparedness activities.
  • This is subjected to certification regarding cause of death from appropriate authority.

So, what about compensation for Covid?

  • Last year the Home Ministry wrote to state governments that the central government has decided to treat it (Covid-19) as a notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF.
  • It attached a partially modified list of items and norms of assistance.
  • It did not specify payment of ex gratia to families of deceased.
  • Some states have decided to pay, but not for all deaths.

How has the government responded to the petition?

  • The Centre has submitted that ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh is beyond the affordability of state governments.
  • It argued that if Rs 4 lakh is paid to the kin of each, it “may possibly” consume the entire amount of the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF).
  • This would leave states with insufficient funds for organizing a response to the pandemic, or to take care of other disasters.
  • The centre argued that the term ex gratia itself means the amount is not based on legal entitlement.

Way ahead

  • A broader approach, which involves health interventions, social protection, and economic recovery for the affected communities would be a more prudent, responsible, and sustainable approach.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Data central to effective climate action


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Data driven approach to deal with the future disruptions

Article highlights the importance of data driven approach in dealing with the future disruptions and suggests the reforms in the system.

Managing the disruption through data-driven tools

  • The data-driven tools were used for managing pandemic induced disruption.
  • This offers an opportunity to restructure the data ecosystem for managing the disruptions of the future that are more likely to be driven by climate change.

Policies for data sharing in India

  • The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2012 recognises the importance of data.
  • NDSAP recognised the importance of data in improving decision making, meeting the needs of civil society and generating revenue by permitting access to datasets.
  • In 2012, a government portal, data.gov.in was also established as a unified platform to enable sharing of data available with ministries, departments and other public agencies for wider public use.
  • The sharing of data in this platform, apart from others, is further streamlined through the nodality of Chief Data Officer-CDO in respective ministries.


  • Challenge remains about whether the collected data is usable, accessible and if it captures the details that end users are interested in.
  • Even after years of the portal’s operationalisation, there are multiple data-sets that aren’t updated regularly.
  • Though NITI Aayog has brought indices to track climate actions such as under SDG-13 of SDG India Index, but it remains vague in tracking improvements in climate resilience, by solely using number of lives lost due to extreme weather events.

Reforms needed in data-ecosystem

  • 1) Complete dataset: There is a need to collect complete datasets required to assess climate risks and vulnerabilities.
  • This involves collection of datasets that are sex-disaggregated and geo-spatial and collect more nuanced dimensions like disaster response capacities.
  • Targeted research: There is a requirement of targeted research for designing better questionnaires and identifying new nodes for data collection.
  • 2) Reliability of data: The data collected has to be made reliable and usable through an accountability framework.
  • Legislation: A separate legislation in this regard would bring in the much-needed consistency in periodic collection of identified datasets and their proactive sharing in designated platforms.
  • 3) Centralisation of data: There is a need for centralising public data that currently exists with different departments and public institutions.
  • The National Data Governance Centre was planned to be set up in 2019 for precisely this objective.
  • But it is yet to be operationalised.

Consider the question “How data driven approach could help India deal with the future disruptions that are more likely to be from climate change? Suggest the reforms needed in India’s data ecosystem.”


It is time that India places itself on track to address the issues around the known unknowns of climate change through data driven apporach.



Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Satellite-based real-time monitoring of Himalayan glacial catchments


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

Mains level : Paper 3- Mitigating glacial lake outburst flood events

Melting of glaciers in Himalaya and GLOFs

  • The Himalayan region is home to the largest ice mass outside of the planet’s Polar Regions.
  • The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at a faster rate creating new lakes and expanding the existing ones.
  • The rising temperatures and extreme precipitation events make the region increasingly prone to a variety of natural hazards, including devastating glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
  • GLOFs occur when either a natural dam containing a glacial lake bursts or when the lake’s level suddenly increases and overflows its banks, leading to catastrophic downstream destruction.
  • However, the remote, challenging Himalayan terrain and the overall lack of cellular connectivity throughout the region have made the development of early flood warning systems virtually impossible.
  • In their recent work the Scientists point out that the surge of meltwater in mountain streams is most commonly caused by cloud-burst events during the monsoon season (June–July–August) time frame.

Satelitte-based real-time monitoring

  • Satellite-based real-time monitoring of Himalayan glacial catchments would improve understanding of flood risk in the region and help inform an early flood warning system that could help curb disaster and save human lives, says a recent study.
  • This should be the future strategy to reduce loss of human lives during glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), said a study carried out by scientists from IIT Kanpur.
  • The IIT Kanpur team suggests that efforts to help mitigate GLOF events in the future should include the creation of a network of satellite-based monitoring stations that could provide in situ and real-time data on GLOF risk.
  • The integration of monitoring devices with satellite networks will not only provide telemetry support in remote locations that lack complete cellular connectivity but will also provide greater connectivity in coverage in the cellular dead zones in extreme topographies such as valleys, cliffs, and steep slopes.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDRI

Mains level : India's leadership in Climate change mitigation

The Prime Minister has recently addressed the third edition of the annual conference of the Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

What is CDRI?

  • The CDRI is an international coalition of countries, UN agencies, multilateral development banks, the private sector, and academic institutions that aim to promote disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • Its objective is to promote research and knowledge sharing in the fields of infrastructure risk management, standards, financing, and recovery mechanisms.
  • It was launched by the Indian PM Narendra Modi at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019.
  • CDRI’s initial focus is on developing disaster-resilience in ecological, social, and economic infrastructure.
  • It aims to achieve substantial changes in member countries’ policy frameworks and future infrastructure investments, along with a major decrease in the economic losses suffered due to disasters.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a unique initiative of G20 group of countries
  2. The CCAC focuses on methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Its inception

  • PM Modi’s experience in dealing with the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake” as the chief minister led him to the idea.
  • The CDRI was later conceptualized in the first and second edition of the International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) in 2018-19.
  • It was organized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in partnership with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, and the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Its diplomatic significance

  • The CDRI is the second major coalition launched by India outside of the UN, the first being the International Solar Alliance.
  • Both of them are seen as India’s attempts to obtain a global leadership role in climate change matters and were termed as part of India’s stronger branding.
  • India can use the CDRI to provide a safer alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Cost of development in the fragile mountains


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Floods in Uttarakhand and its mitigation

The article explains the relationship between development activities in Uttarakhand and the devastating floods.

Cause of recent flash flood in Uttarakhand

  • According to Planet Labs, ice along with frozen mud and rocks fell down from a high mountain inside the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, from a height of 5,600 m to 3,300 m.
  • This created an artificial lake within the sanctuary in Rontigad, a tributary of Rishi Ganga.
  • Within eight hours, this lake burst open and its water, laden with mud and stones, rushed through the Rishi Ganga gorge which opens near Reni.
  • Studies say that the current winter season has seen little rain and snow, with temperatures being highest in the last six decades.
  •  So, the effects of chemical weathering were much more active in the higher Himalayas.
  •  There is a possibility of more such events this year.

Factors responsible

1) Development with no regard for the environment

  • As a mountain system, the Himalayas have had earthquakes, avalanches, landslides, soil erosion, forest fires and floods, and these are its natural expressions, parts of its being.
  • Except for earthquakes, humans have directly contributed towards aggravating all the other phenomena.
  • The Ravi Chopra committee formed by the SC recommended closure of all the 24 hydro projects in question by Wildlife Institute of India.
  • The SC also formed another committee to look at the impact of the Chaardham road project.
  • Road and hydro projects are being operated in the Himalayas with practically no rigorous research on the ecological history of the area, cost-benefit analysis and many other aspects including displacement of communities, destruction of biodiversity, agricultural land, pastures as well as the cultural heritage of the area.

Dilution of Environmental Impact Assessment rules

  • Earlier, while independent experts carried out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), today it is assigned to a government agency, which does the work for other government departments.
  • Furthermore, during the lockdown, the government changed the EIA rules and diluted labour laws (most of the workers in both the affected projects belong to unorganised sector) in the name of pandemic measures.

2) Climate change

  • Another factor which cannot be overlooked is that of climate change.
  • Studies have suggested that the pace of this change is faster in mountains and fastest in the Himalayas.
  • While earthquakes and weathering work at their own pace, climate change can contribute towards altering their natural speed.

Need for studying the 2013 calamity

  •  We can look back at the terrible calamity of 2013, and see how it washed away the encroachments in river areas-dams, barrages, tunnels, buildings, roads.
  • The communities paid a much heavier price than what they received in compensation.
  • Further, the 2013 calamity has to be studied and understood in all the other regions and river valleys of Uttarakhand, Western Nepal and Himachal.
  • It was not specific to Kedarnath, although much of the focus was directed there.
  • Till date, we don’t have any white paper on this calamity.
  • The India Meteorological Department failed in its prediction and wrongly announced at the end of the first week of June that the monsoon will reach Uttarakhand by June 27-28.
  • It reached on June 16-17 with 300-400 per cent more rain, a record never heard of before.
  •  24 big and small hydro projects were destroyed.
  • The muck created by these projects was also the cause of their destruction.
  • The road debris, always dumped in rivers, was another cause.
  • The smaller rivers were more aggressive in 2013.

Consider the question “What are the factors responsible for the devastating floods in the Uttarakhand? Suggest the measures for disaster mitigation.”


The Himalayas have been giving us life through water, fertile soil, biodiversity, wilderness and a feel of spirituality. We cannot and should not try to control or dictate the Himalayas.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

A resilient future for Uttarakhand


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glacial burst

Mains level : Paper 3- Floods in Uttarakhand and steps need to be taken to deal with such disasters

The article discusses the factors that could explain the cause of the recent flash floods in Uttarakhand and suggest the immediate steps to deal with such disasters.

What makes Uttarakhand vulnerable

  • Days after a glacier burst in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand caused flash floods, the scientific community is still struggling to understand what triggered the disaster.
  • Uttarakhand is located in the midst of young and unstable mountains and is subject to intense rainfall.
  • For years experts have voiced their fears about an impending disaster due to climate change, rapid and indiscriminate construction activities, and the subsequent ecological destruction in the region.
  • Studies have shown that widespread settlements, farming, cattle grazing and other anthropogenic activities could destroy the natural barriers that control avalanches and floods, thereby enhancing the possibilities of a glacial lake outburst flood.
  • The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report (2019) had pointed out that one-third of the Hindu Kush Himalaya’s glaciers would melt by 2100 and potentially destabilise the river regime in Asia, even if all the countries in the region fulfilled their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Possible causes of the current glacial outburst

  • The current glacier burst was loosely attributed to erosion, a build-up of water pressure, an avalanche of snow or rocks, landslides or an earthquake under the ice.
  • A rock mass, weakened from years of freezing and thawing of snow, may have led to the creation of a weak zone and fractures leading to a collapse that resulted in flash floods.

Issue of construction activity

  • Experts and activists have incessantly asked for scrutiny into the construction of hydroelectric power projects in Uttarakhand.
  • There have also been allegations about the use of explosives in the construction of dams and other infrastructure.
  • In 2014, an expert committee led by Dr Ravi Chopra, instituted to assess the role of dams in exacerbating floods, provided hard evidence on how haphazard construction of dams was causing irreversible damage to the region.

7 Immediate steps

  • 1) Investing in resilience planning, especially in flood prevention and rapid response.
  • 2) Climate proofing the infrastructure such as by applying road stabilisation technologies for fragile road networks and strengthening existing structures like bridges, culverts and tunnels.
  • 3) Strengthening embankments with adequate scientific know-how
  • 4) Reassessing development of hydropower and other public infrastructure.
  • 5) Investing in robust monitoring and early warning system.
  • 6) Establishing implementable policies and regulatory guidelines to restrict detrimental human activities, including responsible eco- and religious tourism policies.
  • 7) Investing in training and capacity building to educate and empower local communities to prevent and manage risks effectively.

Consider the question “What are the factors that make Uttarakhand vulnerable to natural disasters? Suggest the measures to prevent and deal with the disasters” 


India needs to urgently rise up to the challenge by applying innovative and inclusive solutions that support nature and marginalised communities, to restore and rebuild a resilient future for Uttarakhand.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Role of dams in Uttarakhand floods


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : How dams exacerbate disasters

Mains level : Paper 3- Role of dams in exacerbating disasters

The article explains the link between the disasters in the Uttarakhand and the construction of dams.

How dams exacerbate disasters

  • The use of explosives has repeatedly been questioned for dam construction, and the construction of other infrastructure projects, such as roads, in the fragile Himalayan State.
  • Other than this, deforestation takes place when dams are constructed.
  • The construction material that is supposed to be dumped on separate land is often dumped into the rivers.

The Chopra Committee report after Kedarnath flood

  • The Chopra Committee report of 2014 brings more clarity on how dams exacerbate a disaster such as floods.
  • Its report mentions how dams exacerbated the 2013 deluge, mainly as riverbeds were already raised from the disposed muck at the dam construction sites.
  • The report presents evidence to prove that dams are not only damaged in floods, they also cause immense damage in downstream areas.
  • This is because as floodwaters damage a barrage, they increase the destructive capacity of the water that flows downstream of the barrage.
  • In an affidavit submitted on December 5, 2014 in the Supreme Court, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change acknowledged the adverse impact of dams in the 2013 floods.

Impact of climate change and threat of earthquakes

  • Himalayan glaciers are receding and disintegrating as a result of climate change, and the snow cover in the Himalayas is also thinning.
  • Research shows an increase in number and volume of glacial lakes as a result of of increased temperatures.
  • For dams, this means rapid increase or decrease in the reservoir water level.
  • It also means that the projections on the life of a dam reservoir may not stand due to erratic events, such as floods, that could rapidly fill a reservoir with muck and boulders brought along with the floods.
  • In terms of earthquake risk, Uttarakhand lies in Seismic Zone-IV (severe intensity) and Seismic Zone-V (very severe intensity).
  • Ignoring this, many dams have been constructed in zones that are under high risk of witnessing severe earthquakes.

Consider the question “Examine the role played by the dams in exacerbating the disasters in the Himalayan states”


It is clear that dams worsen disasters, and for this to be ignored by the State authorities is unfortunate.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Flash floods and their mitigation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Flash floods

Mains level : Flood management

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the Indian Express.

What are Flash floods?

  • A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas: washes, rivers, dry lakes and depressions.
  • It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.

Take a glimpse of the series of disasters in Uttarakhand

Chamoli example

  • Flash flood incident in Uttarakhand is another warning of the dangers that a Himalayan state like Uttarakhand faces from natural processes like landslides, snow avalanches cloudbursts or lake bursts.
  • As we saw in 2013 in the same state, such processes can trigger much bigger disasters and cause massive destruction.
  • But it is possible to work towards minimising the threat of such incidents and reduce their impact.

Role of glacial lakes

  • There are over 1,000 glaciers in Uttarakhand. Almost all of them are receding. Most of the glaciers also have debris cover.
  • When glaciers retreat due to rising temperatures, the snow melts but the debris remains. This debris aids in the formation of lakes.

Cause: Retreat of glaciers

  • Glaciers have reduced considerably in mass and surface area since the little ice age period.
  • This has led to the formation of a large number of glacial lakes all across the Himalayas.
  • Many of these high-altitude lakes are potentially dangerous, because of their potential to cause flash floods in the event of a breach.

How big is the threat?

  • Over the years, the frequency of formation of these lakes has increased.
  • But despite that, there are not many GLOF (glacial lake outburst flood) events happening in Uttarakhand.
  • Not as many as in Sikkim, for example. This is because Uttarakhand has very steep slopes, and the water manages to find a way out.

What should be done?

(a) Coherent research

  • There are a lot more glaciologists and others who are working in the area and generating data.
  • Multiple scientific groups and institutions are involved. But there is no coherent output. Lots of data are being generated but not being put to good use.
  • There has to be one agency dedicated to the job.

(b) Monitoring

  • The first step in tackling the threat from these glacial lakes is to start monitoring them and the glaciers more actively and regularly.
  • There is a need to monitor every glacier. Glaciers in one basin do not have remarkably different properties.
  • Relying only on satellites and remote sensing is not going to be enough.
  • What is required is a consolidated state of glaciers in India, with the ability to zoom in on any of them and track the changes happening year by year.

(c) Planning

  • Construction-related activities in the state might not have a direct link to Chamoli incident, but these are not entirely benign.
  • The Himalayas are very young mountain systems, and extremely fragile and a minor change in orientation of the rocks can be enough to trigger landslides.
  • It is important to include glaciers in any environment impact assessment for major projects such as the construction of dams.
  • The entire catchment areas should be made part of the impact assessment.

(d) Mitigation

  • If we monitor the glaciers regularly, it would enable us to identify the lakes that need mitigation solutions.
  • Several structural and geotechnical measures can be applied, and there are successful examples where the threat from these lakes has been reduced.
  • It is possible to construct channels for the gradual and regulated discharge of water from these lakes, which will reduce the pressure on them, and minimise the chances of a breach.
  • At the same time, it also reduces the volume of water that goes into the flash flood. Also, alarm systems can be set up at the lakes that will warn the community downstream whenever an overflow happens.

Way forward

  • It is not possible to completely prevent these kinds of incidents. But their potential to cause destruction can certainly be minimized.
  • Scientists can find a way to let the lake waters slowly drain at the nearby river at a regulated rate so that there is no flooding, and the pressure on the lake does not become unbearable.
  • Such solutions can be applied in Uttarakhand, and some work is being done.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Why hydel projects in the Himalayas are worrying?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dams in Uttarakhand

Mains level : Risks posed by Hydel projects

The flash flood that claimed several lives in Chamoli has caused Uttarakhand’s hydroelectric projects (HEPs) to be scrutinized closely.

Q.How do hydropower projects pose geological and topographical threats to the ecosystem? (150W)

Why Hydropower in Uttarakhand?

  • Uttarakhand has a tricky relationship with electricity.
  • With a landscape that’s inhospitable to thermal power grid lines and with people too poor to pay for electricity, micro and mini hydro-electric power projects were seen as the answer.
  • Between the government’s long-standing ‘power for all’ objective, and environmentalists pushing for a cleaner, renewable energy, setting up dozens of hydel power plants seemed ideal.

Impacts of HEPs

Limitless quarrying, deforestation, stopping the flow of rivers, and mushrooming of hydropower projects have made the Himalayas unstable.

  • Existing and under-construction hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand have led to several deleterious environmental impacts (Char Dham Committee).
  • Among the significant impacts are on the river ecosystem, forest and terrestrial biodiversity, geological environment and social infrastructure.
  • More than seven years later, some experts believe that over-exploitation of rivers and rampant damming for hydroelectric projects (HEPs) could be one of the big factors responsible for the Chamoli disaster.
  • The ‘river-bed profile’ across the major HEPs of Uttarakhand has changed significantly, suggesting the possibility of disasters in future.

The Kedarnath floods

  • Between June 13 and 17, 2013, Uttarakhand had received an unusual amount of rainfall.
  • This led to the melting of the Chorabari glacier and the eruption of the Mandakini river.
  • The floods affected large parts of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal.
  • The heavy rainfall caused massive flash floods and landslides resulting in the death of residents and tourists as well as extensive damage to property.
  • Over 5,000 people were killed in the floods

Construction still persists

  • Neglecting all warnings of the experts, rampant construction was carried out in the sensitive zones even after the 2013 Kedarnath deluge.
  • Notably, two dozen hydropower plants of Uttarakhand were rejected by the Supreme Court after the expert panel report.

HEPs in Uttarakhand

The rivers and basins in the state are dotted with 43 micro hydel projects. Some of them are:

Alarms have been raised earlier

  • The Kedarnath expert committee had warned about the excessive exploitation of vulnerable regions and the need to re-study and re-evaluate the HEPs of Uttarakhand.
  • The report also objected to HEPs at an altitude of over 2000 metres.
  • The report pointed out that the potential threat of landslide, cloudburst, subsidence, flash floods has increased tremendously in the past few years and many critical zones need immediate attention.
  • The study also mentioned that a lot of anthropogenic pressure due to different activities related to HEPs was alarming and needed checks.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

What is the ‘Doomsday Clock’?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Doomsday Clock

Mains level : Various existential threat to mankind

The hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’, a visual depiction of how vulnerable the world is to a climate or nuclear catastrophe, remained at ‘100 seconds to midnight’ for the second consecutive year — the closest it has been to the symbolic annihilation of humanity.

Q.The ‘Doomsday Clock’ represents the hypothetical countdown to raise human consciousness against mutually assured destruction. In this light, discuss various existential threats to humanity and action taken so far.

What is the ‘Doomsday Clock’?

  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded by Albert Einstein and students from the University of Chicago in 1945, created the ‘Doomsday Clock’.
  • It is held as a symbol to represent how close the world is to a possible apocalypse.
  • It is set annually by a panel of scientists, including 13 Nobel laureates, based on the threats — old and new — that the world faced in that year.
  • When it was first created in 1947, the hands of the clock were placed based on the threat posed by nuclear weapons, which the scientists then perceived to be the greatest threat to humanity.
  • Over the years, they have included other existential threats, such as climate change and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence.

Significance of such clock

  • The reason the scientists selected a clock is twofold — they wanted to use the imagery of an apocalypse (midnight) as well as the “contemporary idiom of a nuclear explosion” (zero countdowns) to illustrate the threats to humanity.
  • The clock was originally set to seven minutes to midnight and has since moved closer or further away from the dreaded 12 o’clock position.
  • The furthest it has been being 17 minutes after the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Why was the clock set at ‘100 seconds from midnight’?

  • It was set at the ‘100 seconds from midnight’ position due to the prevailing climate conditions, “cyber-based disinformation”, nuclear risk and the pandemic.
  • It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Clock.
  • We now face a true emergency – an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Using the crucial expertise of CAPFs


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAPFs

Mains level : Paper 3- Role of CAPFs in disaster management.

The article emphasises the role played by the CAPFs in dealing with the disasters.

Dealing with the disasters

  • When disaster strikes our country, be it natural or man-made, the government summons the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to carry out the task of overcoming the disaster.
  • The CAPFs help in carrying out rescue and relief operations, and also mitigates the pains and problems arising out of the disaster.

Role played by CAPFS during Covid

  • CAPFs comprise the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Assam Rifles and the ITBP.
  • Even before the country got to know about the COVID-19, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had already set up its 600-bed quarantine centre in Chawla on the outskirts of New Delhi.
  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had roped in specialists from the Safdarjung Hospital to coordinate with ITBP officials.
  • Doctors and paramedical personnel of other CAPFs were also roped in.
  • The expertise acquired by ITBP personnel and the Standard Operating Procedure prepared by the ITBP came handy for the States and other police forces in establishing their own quarantine centres and COVID-19 hospitals.

Role of NDRF during Covid-19

  • NDRF personnel are wholly drawn from the CAPFs.
  • So, they form a good reserve of trained personnel when they go back to their parent force after their stint with NDRF.
  • With 12 battalions of the NDRF— each comprising 1,149 personnel — spread across the country, its experts have the core competency to tackle biological disasters like COVID-19.
  • Such personnel can be deployed at quarantines centres after short-term courses.
  • A proposal mooted by NITI Aayog last year, to conduct a bridge course for dentists to render them eligible for the MBBS degree, could be revived, and such doctors could be on stand-by to help in such emergency crises.


It is these CAPF personnel who give a semblance of existence of government administration even in the remotest corners of the country. Their versatile experience can be utilised to the nation’s advantage.



The Central Armed Police Forces refers to uniform nomenclature of five security forces in India under the authority of Ministry of Home Affairs. Their role is to defend the national interest mainly against the internal threats.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Char-chaporis of Assam


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Char chapori

Mains level : Not Much

A proposed museum reflecting the “culture and heritage of the people living in char-chaporis” has stirred up a controversy in Assam.

Do you know?

Phumdis are a series of floating islands, exclusive to the Loktak Lake in Manipur. They cover a substantial part of the lake area and are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay.

What are char-chaporis?

  • A char is a floating island while chaporis are low-lying flood-prone riverbanks.
  • They are used interchangeably as they keep changing shapes — a char can become a chapori, or vice versa, depending on the push and pull of the Brahmaputra.
  • Prone to floods and erosion, these areas are marked by low development indices.
  • While Bengali-origin Muslims primarily occupy these islands, other communities such as Misings, Deoris, Kocharis, Nepalis also live here.
  • In the popular imagination, however, chars have become synonymous to the Bengali-speaking Muslims of dubious nationality.

Who are the Miyas?

  • The ‘Miya’ community comprises descendants of Muslim migrants from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) to Assam.
  • They came to be referred to as ‘Miyas’, often in a derogatory manner.
  • The community migrated in several waves — starting with the British annexation of Assam in 1826, and continuing into Partition and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

The Human Cost of Disasters Report (2000-2019)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Climate change induced disasters

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) recently published its report titled “The Human Cost of Disasters”.

The report holds much significance for prelims as well as mains. Just for the sake of information, we must be aware of the report.

Highlights of the report

  • 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.
  • Of this, China (577 events) and the US (467 events) reported the highest number of disaster events followed by India (321 events).
  • Climate change is to be blamed for the doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years says the report.
  • There had also been an increase in geophysical events like earthquakes and tsunamis that are not related to climate but are particularly deadly.

Back2Basics: UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • The UNDRR was established in 1999 as a dedicated secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is mandated to serve as the focal point in the UN system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster reduction activities.
  • It has a vision to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses for a sustainable future with the mandate to act as the custodian of the Sendai Framework to which India is a signatory.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

PM CARES Fund is a “public charitable trust”: SC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM CARES Fund

Mains level : Disaster management in India

The Supreme Court has endorsed the PM CARES Fund as a “public charitable trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily.

Try this question:

Q. The creation of PM CARES fund is violative of the provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Analyse.

What is the case?

  • The petition had argued that the PM-CARES Fund was not subject to CAG audit.
  • It was not under “public scrutiny”. Contributions to it were “100% tax-free”.
  • It was accused that there was statutory fund already in existence under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to receive contributions to finance the fight against a calamity.

About PM CARES Fund

  • The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) were created on 28 March 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
  • The fund will be used for combat, containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
  • The PM is the chairman of the trust. Members will include the defence, home and finance ministers.
  • The fund will also enable micro-donations. The minimum donation accepted for the PM CARES Fund is ₹10 (14¢ US).
  • The donations will be tax-exempt and fall under corporate social responsibility.

What did the Court rule?

  • There is “no occasion” for the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit a public charitable trust independent of budgetary support or government money.
  • The court said that PM-CARES is “not open” for a PIL petitioner to question the “wisdom” that created the fund in an hour of need.
  • The court dismissed the idea that the PM CARES was constituted to “circumvent” the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  • The Bench also refused to direct the transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the NDRF. It said they were two separate entities.

Also read:


Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Expansion of the National Cadet Corps (NCC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NCC

Mains level : NCC and its mandate

In his I-Day speech, PM spoke about the expansion of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in coastal and border districts of India.

Try this question:

Q.The Shekatkar Committee recommendations sometimes seen in the news are related to:

a) Modernization of Railways b) Modernization of Defence c) Road Infrastructure d) Cashless Payments

About NCC

  • The NCC, which was formed in 1948, has its roots to British era uniformed youth entities like University Corps or University Officer Training Corps.
  • It enrols cadets at the high school and college level and also awards certificates on completion of various phases.
  • Headed by a Director-General of three-star military rank, the NCC falls under the purview of MoD and is led by serving officers from the Armed forces at various hierarchical positions.
  • The NCC currently has 17 regional directorates which govern the NCC in units in various states or groups of states and union territories.
  • Each school and college units have Associate NCC Officers and cadets are also assigned various leadership roles in the form of cadet appointments.
  • NCC has a dual funding model where both the centre and states or union territories provide budgetary support.

Training the cadets

  • The NCC cadets receive basic military training at various levels and also have academic curriculum basics related to Armed forces and their functioning.
  • Various training camps, adventure activities and military training camps are an important aspect of NCC training.
  • NCC cadets have played an important role over the years in relief efforts during various emergency situations.
  • During the ongoing pandemic, over 60,000 NCC cadets have been deployed for voluntary relief work in coordination with district and state authorities across the country.

PM’s announcement

  • Expansion of NCC in the border and coastal area has been under consideration of the Ministry of Defence for quite some time.
  • PM took this I-Day to announce that from the 173 coastal and border districts, one lakh cadets, a third of them girls, will be trained.
  • Currently, the NCC has the strength of around 14 lakh cadets from Army, Navy and Air Force wings.
  • Border and coastal areas will get trained manpower to fight with disasters. Youth will acquire the required skills for careers in armed forces.

Significance of expansion

  • In the coastal regions, where youth are already familiar with the sea, the training will increase interest in careers in Navy, Coast Guard and also Merchant shipping avenues.
  • In the border area, the trained cadets can play an important role in various contingencies and also in supporting roles to the Armed forces in various roles.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

In news: Mauritius Oil Spill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mauritius oil spill

Mains level : Chemical disasters these days

A Japanese ship recently struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Recently, “oil zapper’’ was in the news. What is it? (CSP 2011)

(a) It is an eco-friendly technology for the remediation of oily sludge and oil spills.

(b) It is the latest technology developed for undersea oil exploration.

(c) It is a genetically engineered high biofuel-yielding maize variety.

(d) It is the latest technology to control the accidentally caused flames from oil wells.

What caused the Mauritius oil spill?

  • A Japanese vessel struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean.
  • The ship was carrying an estimated 4,000 tonnes of oil.
  • The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.

How dangerous are oil spills?

  • Oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.
  • Further, both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills.
  • For instance, oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters.
  • It also decreases the water repellency of birds’ feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.

Some major incidents

  • Some of the world’s largest oil spills include the Persian Gulf War oil spill of 1991 when more than 380 million gallons of oil was poured into the northern Persian Gulf by Iraq’s forces.
  • The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is also considered to be among the largest known accidental oil spills in history.
  • Starting April 20, 2010, over 4 million barrels of oil flowed over a period of 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico.

How is the oil spill cleaned?

  • There are a few ways to clean up oil spills including skimming, in situ burning and by releasing chemical dispersants.
  • Skimming involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.
  • In situ burning means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
  • Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.
  • Natural actions in aquatic environments such as weathering, evaporation, emulsification, biodegradation and oxidation can also accelerate the recovery of an affected area. But these occur differently in freshwater and marine environments.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Ammonium Nitrate:  Behind the massive explosion in Beirut


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ammonium Nitrate and its uses

Mains level : Chemical disasters these days

The catastrophic explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon caused by the blast of over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, has rocked the world.

Practice question:

Q. Despite a robust policy framework governing the hazardous chemicals in India, the recent gas leakage incident in Vizag highlights India’s unaddressed vulnerability to chemical disasters. Critically comment.

What is Ammonium Nitrate?

  • In its pure form, ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a white, crystalline chemical which is soluble in water.
  • A common chemical ingredient of agricultural fertilizers, the nitrogen-rich compound is also the main component of the explosive composition known as ANFO — ammonium nitrate fuel oil.
  • It is the main ingredient in the manufacture of commercial explosives used in mining and construction.
  • Many Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used by terrorists around the world have ANFO as the main explosive, triggered by primary explosives like RDX or TNT.
  • In the majority of terror attacks in India, ammonium nitrate has been used along with initiator explosives like RDX.

Ammonium nitrate as an explosive

  • Pure ammonium nitrate is not an explosive on its own.
  • It is classified as an oxidiser (Grade 5.1) under the UN classification of dangerous goods.
  • If mixed with ingredients like fuel or some other contaminants, or because of some other external factors, it can be very explosive.

Stored ammonium nitrate is a major fire hazard

  • Large quantities of stored ammonium nitrate are regarded as a major fire hazard, with multiple reported cases across the world.
  • The explosion of large storage can happen primarily in two ways.
  • One is by some type of detonation or initiation because the storage comes in contact with the explosive mixture.
  • Second, the blast can result due to a fire which starts in the ammonium nitrate store because of the heat generated due to the oxidation process at large scale.

Regulations in India about ammonium nitrate

  • Because it is used as an ingredient for the production of explosives, anaesthetic gases, fertilizers, cold packs and has a possibility of misuse, it is highly regulated in India.
  • There exists the Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012, under The Explosives Act, 1884.
  • It defines ammonium nitrate as the compound with formula NH4NO3 including any mixture or compound having more than 45 per cent ammonium nitrate by weight.
  • The manufacture, conversion, bagging, import, export, transport, possession for sale or use of ammonium nitrate is covered under The Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012.
  • The rules also make storage of ammonium nitrate in large quantities in populated areas illegal in India.
  • For the manufacture of ammonium nitrate, an Industrial licence is required under the Industrial Development and Regulation Act, 1951.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

We need National Plan for Covid-19


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM CARES

Mains level : Paper 3- Disaster Management Act, National Plan

The Disaster Management Act (DMA) 2005 has been invoked by the government to deal with the pandemic. However, National Plan as provided under the Act to deal with Covid-19 is nowhere to be found. Also, the creations of PM CARES violated the provision of the DMA-2005. These two issues are discussed here.

Provisions of DMA 2005

  • The Act, along with other things provides the constitution of a National Authority, a National Executive committee.
  • It also provides for the constitution of an advisory committee of experts in the field to make recommendations and to prepare a national plan.
  • This plan must provide for measures for prevention or mitigation.
  • The Act lays down “guidelines for minimum standards of relief, including ex gratia assistance.

Provision of various Funds under DMA 2005

  • It enables the creation of a National Disaster Response Fund in which the central government must make due contribution.
  • It also requires “any grants that may be made by any person or institution for the purpose of disaster management” to be credited into the same Fund.
  • It also provides for a National Disaster Mitigation Fund, exclusively for mitigation.
  • The Act also provides for State and local-level plans and for creating State Disaster Response Fund among others.

Provision of disaster management plan

  • After the direction by the SC, the government came out with a National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), 2016.
  • This Plan dealt with various kinds of disasters; it was amended in 2019.
  • Bu this National Plan not in place now.
  • Without it, the fight against COVID-19 is ad hoc and has resulted in thousands of government orders.
  • These orders are confusing those who are to enforce them as well as the public.

NDRF and PM CARES issue

  • On April 3, 2020, the government of India agreed to contribute its share to the NDRF.
  • But a public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was set up to receive grants made by persons and institutions out of the NDRF, in violation of Section 46 of the Act.
  • The crores being sent to this fund are not even audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
  • It is a totally opaque exercise.
  • The government of the day has not only ignored the binding law but also circumvented it.
  • The government has been fighting the crisis in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner instead of the organised steps as mandated by the Act.
  • In so doing, the experts have been sidelined.

Consider the question “Describe the various provision of the DMA 2005 to deal with the disaster. In light of this, examine whether the creation of PM CARES conflicts with the provision of his act”


The national plan to deal with the pandemic and making PM CARES more transparent would help the government in its fight against the corona crisis.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

What makes Himalayan tourism spots vulnerable to landslides?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himlayan mountain ranges

Mains level : Landslides in India

This newscard talks about the city of Dharamshala where landslides occur frequently.

Practice question for mains:

Q.“Himalayan region is more susceptible to floods and flood induced landslides than the Western Ghats”. Discuss.

Why is Dharamshala more vulnerable to landslides?

  • Dharamshala has a slope varying from gentle to steep, depending on different parts of the city.
  • It is located in Zone V in the earthquake hazard zoning map of India.
  • The large differences in slope between different parts of the city make it more susceptible to critical hazards like landslides.
  • The vulnerability of the geologically young steep slopes of Dhauladhar has increased because of anthropogenic activities and illegal construction due to the lack of availability of land.

Why do landslides occur?

  • Increasing urbanisation, deforestation and encroachment of areas at high hill slopes, unscientific road cutting and water-intensive agricultural practices contributed to the increase in intensity and frequency of landslides.
  • The situation is worse during the monsoon when landslide-prone areas are washed away due to exposure.
  • This is due to the demand for living within the city. It is not just the difference between slopes, but also anthropogenic causes that lead to the emergence of hazards like landslides.

Why tourist spots are more vulnerable?

1) Road traffic is high

  • During the peak tourist season, the road is marred with traffic jams due to continuous sinking.
  • Several factors have continuously contributed to an increase in the road’s vulnerability. The first is Illegal construction and uncontrolled levelling of hillocks along the roads.
  • Hillocks are flattened to accommodate housing projects, commercial establishments, etc. The informal sector often starts residing in these areas which are more vulnerable to risks.
  • These areas have comparatively lower land values and fewer people come to settle here.

2) Loss in green cover

  • The second is a loss in green cover, something that occurs as more people reside within the city, increasing soil erosion, risking the further vulnerability to landslides.
  • Due to the loss of green cover and steep gradient of the slope, water is not absorbed in the soil and washed away very quickly.

3) Damaged topography

  • The third is the unscientific manner of cutting hills for widening roads and construction.
  • This causes the sinking of roads, which affects road width and causes traffic interruptions.

4) Sewage failures

  • The fourth is the absence of a sewerage system in the area. Due to unavailability of sewerage systems, people construct septic tanks that are unsafe for soil strata.
  • Water from septic tanks drains to the upper layer of soil that has loose soil, making areas more vulnerable to damage from landslides.

Also read

The Northern and Northeastern Mountains | Part 1

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Ambarnaya River Oil spill in Russia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ambarnaya River

Mains level : NA

Russia has declared a state of emergency after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red.

Locate major rivers in Russia in the given map from east-west and west-east directions.

Details of the spillage

  • The Ambarnaya River, into which the oil has been discharged, is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.
  • The state-owned TASS news agency reported that the emergency measures were announced within Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, located in the vast and sparsely populated Siberian peninsula.

How did the leak happen?

  • The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change.
  • The power plant is located near the Region’s Norilsk city, around 3000 km northeast of Moscow.
  • This caused the pillars that supported the plant’s fuel tank to sink.
  • Around 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was released into the Ambarnaya river, which has since drifted 12 km on its surface.

What has Russia done so far?

  • Boom obstacles were placed in the river, but they were unable to contain the oil because of shallow waters.
  • The state of emergency declared would bring in extra forces and federal resources for the clean-up efforts.

What is the extent of the damage?

  • Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill.
  • This is the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of volume.
  • The clean-up effort could take between 5-10 years.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Extreme weather events in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Extreme weather events in India and their mitigation

Nineteen extreme weather events in 2019 claimed 1,357 lives, with heavy rain and flood accounting for 63 per cent of these deaths, revealed Down To Earth’s State of India’s Environment 2020 report.

Extreme weather events:

  • Extreme weather events are out of the ordinary, unexpected, unusual climatic events which wreak havoc and disrupt everyday life.
  • Over the years, the frequency of extreme weather events has increased due to global warming and climate change.
  • Extreme weather events include hailstorm, heatwaves, dust storm, cloud bursts etc.

Try this question:

Q. Extreme weather events have been the biggest catastrophe in India this year. Discuss.

Data from this newscard can be used to substantiate your mains answer with relevant data.

Loss of lives

  • The most lives were lost in Bihar, with people dying from floods and heavy rain (306), thunderstorms (71) and heatwave (292) between May and October.
  • In Maharashtra, 136 people died from floods and heavy rain, 51 died from lightning and 44 died from the heatwave between June and September.
  • There was a 69 per cent increase in the number of heatwave days between 2013 and 2019 as well, the report said.
  • Over 5,300 people died from heatwaves in the past seven years.
  • Cold waves increased by 69 per cent within a year, between 2017 and 2018, with the latter year reported having an extremely cold winter, with the most casualties (279) in the past seven years.

Risks of Extreme weather events in India

  • Climate change related risks will increasingly affect the Indian subcontinent, including via sea level rise, cyclonic activity and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.
  • Rising sea levels would submerge low-lying islands and coastal lands and contaminate coastal freshwater reserves.Climate change will increase the risks of death, injury and ill-health and disrupt livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones due to cyclones and coastal and inland flooding, storm surges and sea-level rise.
  • Melting Himalayan glaciers would reduce downstream water supply in many of India’s important rivers in the dry season, impacting millions
  • A warmer atmosphere will spread tropical diseases and pests to new areas.
  • Increased river, coastal and urban floods could cause considerable loss of life and widespread damage to property, infrastructure and settlements.
  • Erratic rainfall in parts of India could lower rice yields and lead to higher food prices and living costs, while increased drought related water and food shortages linked to rising and extreme temperatures may increase malnutrition and worsen rural poverty. Over 55% of Indian rural households depend on agriculture for a living and, with fisheries and forestry,

Systems in place to tackle extreme weather events are as follows:

1.Meteorological predictions

2.Contingency fund

3.Early warning to citizens

4.NDMA has issued an action plan for Prevention and Management of Heat Waves.

5.Remote sensing satellites.

Problems with accurate meteorological predictions are as follows:

1.Meteorological predictions are considered for broad geographical areas and timeframes. It is not yet possible to predict a thunderstorm or lightning at a village or a part of a city.

2.The exact times these events will hit, too, cannot be predicted.

3.Alerts and warnings are in the nature of a general advisory, telling the people to expect these events, and to take precautions

Steps taken by the State government are as follows:


  • storm has been included in the category of natural disasters for the first time in the State and funds to the tune of ₹2.55 crore have been sanctioned to the affected districts.
  • The next of kin of each deceased in Rajasthan will get financial assistance of ₹4 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
  • Power discoms have launched action on a war-footing to restore electricity supply in the affected areas, while the administration has ordered a survey of damaged properties.
  • In Dholpur district, relief camps have been opened for the villagers whose houses were destroyed.

2.Uttar Pradesh:

  • The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has announced a compensation of up to Rs 400,000 to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for each of the injured in the heavy rainfall and storm across the state.
  • contingency funds have been released to the respective district administration.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Heatwaves and its unusualness this year


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Heatwaves, Western Disturbances

Mains level : Heatwaves and various threats posed

For the past five days, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra have been experiencing severe to very severe heatwave conditions. Here is why this summer is slightly unusual.

Heatwaves being more frequent phenomena, the UPSC may end up asking a prelim as well as mains question about it.  It may ask Q. What are heat waves and how are they classified? What are the external factors on which it is depended?

A MCQ may be a statement based question mentioning the criteria for declaring a heatwave.

What is a heatwave and when is it declared?

Heatwaves occur over India between March and June.

  • IMD declares a heatwave event when the maximum (day) temperature for a location in the plains crosses 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Over the hills, the threshold temperature is 30 degrees Celsius.

Following criteria are used to declare heatwave:

To declare heatwave, the below criteria should be met at least in 2 stations in a Meteorological subdivision for at least two consecutive days and it will be declared on the second day.

a) Based on Departure from Normal

  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4.5°C to 6.4°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is >6.4°C

b) Based on Actual Maximum Temperature (for plains only)

  • Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥47°C

How long can a heatwave spell last?

  • A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days.
  • The longest recorded heatwave spell, in recent years, was between 18 – 31 May 2015.
  • This spell had severely affected parts of West Bengal along with Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Heatwave conditions occurring in May have been observed to last longer, as the season reaches its peak this month.
  • Whereas those reported in June often die down sooner, often due to the onset of Southwest monsoon over the location or in its neighbourhood.

Does all of India experience heatwave conditions?

  • Heatwaves are common over the Core Heatwave Zone (CHZ) — Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, West Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Vidarbha in Maharashtra.
  • The CHZ also includes parts of Gangetic West Bengal, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as categorised by IMD.
  • Several recent studies indicate that CHZ experience more than six heatwave days per year during these four months.
  • Many places in the northwest and cities along southeastern coast report eight heatwave days per season.
  • However, the regions in the extreme north, northeast and southwestern India are lesser prone to heatwaves.

Whats’ so unusual this year?

  • Summer season reaches its peak by May 15 in India when the day temperatures across north, west, and central India cross 40 degrees and hover close to 45 degrees then on.
  • This year, north India did not experience such temperatures till May 21.
  • It was mainly because of the continuous inflow of Western Disturbances that influenced the weather in the north till as late as April.
  • Since last winter, there was frequent passing of Western Disturbances over the north, appearing after every five to seven days.

What are these Western Disturbances?

  • Originating in the Mediterranean Sea, Western Disturbances are eastward-moving winds that blow in lower atmospheric levels.
  • They affect the local weather of a region during its onward journey.
  • Between January and March this year, there were about 20 Western Disturbances, a record of sorts.
  • When Western Disturbances interact with weather systems heading from the two southern seas, that is, warm winds blowing in from the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea, they cause snowfall or rainfall over the north.
  • A significant influence of Western Disturbances is experienced from December to February. However, this year, its influence persisted until early May.
  • The recent Western Disturbances got support from easterly winds blowing over from the Bay of Bengal.

Has cyclone Amphan influenced the current heatwave?

  • Since the event of severe heat has emerged immediately after the passing of Cyclone Amphan, experts confirm its role in leading to the present heatwave spell.
  • Cyclone Amphan, which was a massive Super Storm covering 700 km, managed to drag maximum moisture from over the Bay of Bengal to entire Peninsula.
  • All the moisture that was otherwise built during the thunderstorm and rainfall got gradually depleted from over vast areas as the storm advanced towards West Bengal and Bangladesh between May 16 and 20.
  • It has now triggered dry north-westerly winds to blow over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra causing severe heatwave.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Risk of Early Locusts Attacks: A new concern


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts invasion

Mains level : Locusts invasion and its threats

Locusts normally arrive during July-October but have already been spotted in Rajasthan. At a time India is battling COVID, they present a new worry with their potential for exponential growth and crop destruction.

Along with being a disaster issue, Locust attack is also a challenge for India’s food security. Discuss what socio – economic and technological ways can be adopted to tackle this menance.

What exactly are Locusts?

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper that is innocuous while it is in a “solitary phase” and moving about independently.
  • These winged insects differ from normal hoppers and become dangerous only when their populations build up rapidly and the close physical contact in crowded conditions triggers behavioural changes.
  • They, then, enter the “gregarious phase”, by grouping into bands and forming swarms that can travel great distances (up to 150 km daily), while eating up every bit of vegetation on the way.
  • If not controlled at the right time, these insect swarms can threaten the food security of countries.

How seriously should the first sightings be viewed?

  • The damage potential of locusts has been limited in India only because of the country hosting a single breeding season — unlike Pakistan, Iran and East Africa, where they also multiply during January-June.
  • There’s nothing much to worry right now, as the rabi crop has already been harvested and farmers are yet to commence plantings for the new Kharif season.
  • The locusts’ bands so observed are less populated. But their timing, though, is cause for concern.
  • The normal breeding season for locusts in India is July-October. But this time, they have been sighted by mid-April.
  • Last year, too, they were seen towards end-May as isolated grasshoppers.
  • The longer time to breed is more conducive for a build-up of gregarious insect swarms, as opposed to solitary, innocuous hoppers.

Control measures in India

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.

What kind of damage can they cause?

  • Locusts are polyphagous, i.e. they can feed on a wide variety of crops.
  • Secondly, they have the ability to multiply rapidly. A single female desert locust lays 60-80 eggs thrice during its roughly 90-day life cycle.
  • It is estimated that a 1-square-km area can accommodate 40-80 million of these insects, making the growth of their swarms exponential quite like the Covid-19 virus.

What is the genesis of the present locust upsurge, particularly in East Africa?

  • It lies in the Mekunu and Luban cyclonic storms of May and October 2018 that struck Oman and Yemen, respectively.
  • These turned large desert areas in remote parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula into lakes, which allowed the insects to breed undetected across multiple generations.
  • The swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations from November onwards while building up since the start of this year in southern Iran and Pakistan.
  • Widespread rains in East Africa in late March and April have enabled further breeding.
  • Prior to that, the locusts from spring breeding areas of southwest Pakistan and southern Iran would arrive in Rajasthan and Gujarat during May-June.
  • They would, then, breed with the onset of the southwest monsoon rains and continue doing so through the Kharif cropping season.

What can and should be done?

  • If the monsoon is good, and in the absence of control operations, the magnitude of attack could be worse than in the 2019-20 rabi season.
  • The last year’s locust incursions were the first and most significant since 1993.
  • Local authorities in Rajasthan and Gujarat had to treat over 4.30 lakh hectares of infested areas with sprayers mounted on tractors and other vehicles.

Pesticides give better control

  • The old generation organophosphate insecticides such as Malathion (96% ultra-low volume aerial application) are effective against locusts.
  • About one litre of the chemical is necessary to treat a hectare of their breeding areas, including trees where they halt for the night.
  • There is ample stock of pesticides to control any swarms in India.

Click here to read about the complete genesis of Locusts and their origin:

Locust Invasions and its mitigation

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Vizag Gas Leak: What is Styrene Gas?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Styrene gas, Various acts governing hazardous chemicals

Mains level : Loopholes in handling of Hazardous chemicals in India

A gas leak has claimed at least 11 lives and affected thousands of residents in five villages in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.  The source of the leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG.

Practice question:

Despite a robust policy framework governing the hazardous chemicals in India, the recent gas leakage incident in Vizag highlights India’s unaddressed vulnerability to chemical disasters. Criticallly comment.

Vizag gas lead: What is styrene?

  • It is a flammable liquid that is used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics, fibreglass, rubber, and latex.
  • Styrene is also found in vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, and in natural foods like fruits and vegetables.
  • According to The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989, styrene is classified as a toxic and hazardous chemical.

What happens when exposed to styrene?

  • A short-term exposure to the substance can result in respiratory problems, irritation in the eyes, irritation in the mucous membrane, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • And long-term exposure could drastically affect the central nervous system and lead to other related problems like peripheral neuropathy.
  • It is, likely, a carcinogenic substance that can react with oxygen in the air to mutate into styrene dioxide, a substance that is more lethal.
  • However, there is no sufficient evidence despite several epidemiology studies indicating there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukaemia and lymphoma.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms include headache, hearing loss, fatigue, weakness, difficulty in concentrating etc.
  • Animal studies have reported effects on the nervous system, liver, kidney, and eye and nasal irritation from inhalation exposure to styrene.

How bad is the situation in Visakhapatnam?

  • It is yet unclear whether the deaths are due to direct exposure to styrene gas or one of its byproducts.
  • However, hundreds of people including many children were admitted to hospitals.
  • The cases are high as the gas leak was only detected at 3 am in the morning, meaning several crucial hours have been lost till safety precautions were taken.
  • More fatally, the gas was leaked while people were fast asleep.

What caused the leak?

  • Styrene monomer was used at the manufacturing plant to produce expandable plastics.
  • The storage requirement of styrene monomer strictly mentions that it has to be below 17 degrees Celsius.
  • There was a temporary and partial shutdown of the plant because of the nationwide lockdown.
  • The leak occurred as a result of styrene gas not being kept at the appropriate temperature.
  • This caused a pressure build-up in the storage chamber that contained styrene and caused the valve to break, resulting in the gas leakage.

Is it under control?

  • The leak has been plugged and NDRF teams moved into the five affected villages and have started opening the houses to find out if anyone was stranded inside.
  • The Covid-19 preparedness helped a lot as dozens of ambulances with oxygen cylinders and ventilators were readily available.
  • The spread of the gas depends on wind speeds. So far it is estimated that areas within a five-kilometre radius have been affected.

What are the guidelines on the storage of hazardous chemicals in plants?

After the Bhopal disaster, much legislation was enacted starting from the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. They are-

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 Omnibus act, which gives sweeping powers to Central government to take all measures to protect the environment
Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 Set discharge and product standards – source standards for restricting pollution; product standards for manufactured goods and ambient air and water standards – for regulating quality of life and environmental protection
Hazardous Waste (Management Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 1989 Industry required to identify major accident hazards, take preventive measures and submit a report to the designated authorities
Manufacture, Storage And Import Of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 Importer must furnish complete product safety information to the competent authority and must transport imported chemicals in accordance with the amended rules.
Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 Centre is required to constitute a central crisis group for management of chemical accidents; set up quick response mechanism termed as the crisis alert system. Each state is required to set up a crisis group and report on its work.
Factories Amendment Act, 1987 Provision to regulate siting of hazardous units; safety of workers and nearby residents and mandates for on-site emergency plans and disaster control measures
Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 Imposes a no-fault liability on the owner of hazardous substance and requires the owner to compensate victims of accident irrespective of any neglect or default. For this, the owner is required to take out an insurance policy covering potential liability from any accident.


Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

‘Lost at Home’ Report by UNICEF


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The ‘Lost at Home’ Report

Mains level : Internal Migration and Displacement

More than five million people were internally displaced in India due to natural disasters, conflict and violence in 2019, constituting the highest number of new internal displacements in the world.

Try to answer:

‘Environmental migrant’ is an issue that globally countries should start taking seriously. Discuss the statement with respect to India which already ranks high in climate vulnerability.

The ‘Lost at Home’ Report

  • The report is published by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • It says that almost 33 million new displacements were recorded in 2019 — around 25 million were due to natural disasters and 8.5 million as a consequence of conflict and violence.
  • Of these, there were 12 million new displacements involving children, including around 3.8 million of them caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million due to disasters linked mostly to weather-related events.
  • The report said that natural disasters resulted in more new displacements than conflict and violence.
  • Almost 10 million new displacements in 2019 were recorded in East Asia and the Pacific (39 %) — and almost the same number in South Asia (9.5 million).
  • The report looks at the risks internally displaced children face —child labour, child marriage, trafficking among them — and the actions urgently needed to protect them.

Displacement in India

  • India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and China all suffered from natural disasters leading to displacement in the millions, which accounted for 69% of global disaster-induced displacements.
  • These were overwhelmingly caused by extreme conditions created by dangerous storms and floods.
  • In India, the total number of new internal displacements in 2019 stood at 5,037,000 – including 5,018,000 due to natural disasters and 19,000 because of conflict and violence.

Global Scenario

  • India is followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh and China.
  • The Philippines accounted for 4.27 million new internal displacements due to natural disasters, conflict and violence, Bangladesh 4.08 million and China 4.03 million.
  • The largest number of internally displaced children due to conflict is found in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Internally displaced persons are concentrated in two regions — the Middle East and North Africa and West and Central Africa.
  • The MENA region recorded over 12 million IDPs as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2019. Almost all of them lived in just three countries — Syria, Yemen, and Iraq — and around 5 million were children.

What makes the situation worse?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is only making a critical situation worse.
  • Camps or informal settlements are often overcrowded and lack adequate hygiene and health services.
  • Physical distancing is often not possible, creating conditions that are highly conducive to the spread of the disease, the report said.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Armed Forces: their role during crisis, procedures for requisition


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Recquisition of Armed forces for crisis management

As the Army moves in to take over the COVID-19 quarantine facility in Delhi, the procedure for calling the armed forces to help the civil administration is in the spotlight.

Requisition the Army

  • The regulations permit civil authorities to requisition the Army for controlling law and order, maintaining essential services, assisting during natural calamities such as earthquakes, and any other type of help that may be needed by the civil authorities.
  • The procedure for requisitioning armed forces is governed under several guidelines including:
  1. ‘Aid to Civil Authorities’ under the guidelines laid in Instructions on Aid to the Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces, 1970;
  2. Regulations for the Army, Chapter VII, Paragraphs 301 to 327 and
  3. Manual of Indian Military Law, Chapter VII

How is Army invited?

  • Civil administration requests the Local Military Authority for assistance, for the maintenance of law and order, maintenance of essential services, disaster relief and other types of assistance.
  • Armed forces can be asked to provide troops and equipment for a flag march, rescue and relief, evacuation, and immediate aid.
  • The current case of checking the spread of COVID-19 is different, as the medical aspect is predominant.
  • These resources are being controlled centrally and judiciously, because of the requirement of doctors, equipment and facilities.

Why need Armed forces in such situations?

  • Besides the specialised medical resources, which are centrally controlled, the local units are prepared for maintenance of law and order, crowd control, curfew in sensitive areas etc.
  • Moreover provision of essential supply of electricity and water, restoration of essential services, emergency feeding and shelter, prevention of panic, prevention of theft and loot are other areas of concerns.
  • During such multi-faceted challenges, local authorities have shortfall to perform all such functions.

In such situations, what happens to the armed forces’ primary role?

  • Providing aid to civil authorities, as and when called upon to do so, is a secondary task for the armed forces.
  • It cannot replace the primary role of ensuring external security and operational preparedness.

Is there a ceiling on such deployment?

  • No, there is no such ceiling either of a duration of deployment or on the number of armed forces personnel that can be deployed to aid civil authority.
  • The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), headed by the cabinet secretary, is the final authority.

Are there any templates or instances from the past that are applicable here?

  • The current situation is different from earlier cases such as tsunami or super-cyclone, which were natural disasters.
  • The major difference is that specialists are the key in the current situation, and their tasks cannot be performed by general duty soldiers.

Who pays for the costs incurred?

  • The civil administration is responsible for the costs incurred by the armed forces in these roles.
  • The cost of assistance provided by the Armed Forces is recovered in accordance with the instructions contained in ‘Instructions on Aid to Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces 1970’.

What is the role of the National Disaster Management Authority?

  • NDMA is involved in secondary follow-ups by the Home Ministry and is not very actively involved in the current case.
  • The roles of the Ministries of Health, Home, Civil Aviation and Defence are predominant in this case.
  • The armed forces are aligned with them at the apex level viz NCMC.
  • The directions are followed by execution-level coordination which is done by respective secretaries in the government.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation

Keeping in view the novel coronavirus crisis across the country, various govt. employees, celebrities and political dignitaries are open-heartedly contributing to the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to help combat the disease.

PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

  • In pursuance of an appeal by the then PM, Pt. Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions.
  • It was aimed to assist displaced persons from Pakistan.
  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.
  • The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support.

Legal status

  • PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament.
  • The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by PM or multiple delegates for national causes.


  • PMNRF accepts only voluntary donations by individuals and institutions.
  • Contributions flowing out of budgetary sources of Government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings are not accepted.
  • Conditional contributions, where the donor specifically mentions that the amount is meant for a particular purpose, are not accepted in the Fund.

Its operation

  • PMNRF operates from the Prime Minister’s Office and does not pay any license fee.
  • PM is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on an honorary basis. Permanent Account Number of PMNRF is AACTP4637Q.

Tax exemptions

  • PMNRF is exempt under the Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes.
  • Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Explained: Notified Disaster


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SDRF/NDRF

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation

The Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to treat COVID-19 as a notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

What is a Disaster?

According to the Disaster Management Act, 2005 a disaster is defined as-

  • A catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.
  • The MHA has defined a disaster as an “extreme disruption of the functioning of a society that causes widespread human, material, or environmental losses that exceed the ability of the affected society to cope with its own resources.

What is the State Disaster Response Fund?

  • The SDRF is constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and is the primary fund available with state governments for responses to notified disasters.
  • The Central government contributes 75 per cent towards the SDRF allocation for general category states and UTs, and over 90 per cent for special category states/UTs (which includes northeastern states, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand).
  • For SDRF, the Centre releases funds in two equal instalments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • The disasters covered under the SDRF include cyclones, droughts, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches and pest attacks among others.


The National Disaster Response Fund, which is also constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 supplements the SDRF of a state, in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in the SDRF.

Categories of disaster

  • A High Power Committee on Disaster Management was constituted in 1999 to identify disaster categories.
  • It identified 31 disaster categories organised into five major subgroups, which are: water and climate-related disasters, geological related disasters, chemical, industrial and nuclear-related disasters and biological related disasters, which includes biological disasters and epidemics.

Have there been such instances in the past?

  • In 2018, in view of the devastation caused by the Kerala floods, political leaders in Kerala demanded that the floods be declared a “national calamity”.
  • As of now, there is no executive or legal provision to declare a national calamity.
  • In 2001, the National Committee on Disaster Management under then PM was mandated to look into the parameters that should define a national calamity.
  • However, the committee did not suggest any fixed criterion.
  • In the past, there have been demands from states to declare certain events as natural disasters, such as the Uttarakhand flood in 2013, Cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh in 2014, and the Assam floods of 2015.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] Lethal misgovernance: On Anaj Mandi fire tragedy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Fire Safety in India


The deadly fire at an unregistered bag factory in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area killed 43 workers.

Worker Safety

  • This is a reminder that for every big industrial unit shown as evidence of an emerging power, there are scores of ratholes in which workers toil under crushing, dangerous conditions. 
  • Poorly paid laborers live and work in several residential buildings turned into unregistered factories. 
  • Most of them came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and virtually slept at night next to the machines they worked on. 
  • If the probe confirms that the victims were locked in and obstructed by materials stacked on staircases, the culpability of the respondents would be enormously higher. 
  • Several people could escape through the narrow approach to the stricken building and a mass of tangled wires. 
  • Though the owner and the manager have been arrested, administrative agencies cannot escape responsibility for allowing the factory and other such units to function illegally, without safety audits.

State of Fire safety – Governance

  • This is the third deadliest building fire in the national capital in two decades.
  • Delhi’s Chief Minister has been blaming the lack of complete authority and obstruction by the Centre for his party not being able to deliver on a broader development agenda. 
  • Public safety cannot be allowed to fall victim to this irresponsible wrangling.
  • A reason for the chaotic urban development is the compact arrived between governments and violators. 
  • This allows rezoning to accommodate illegal commercial establishments in residential zones, weak enforcement of regulations and post facto regularisation of illegalities.
  • The culpability of building owners, as in the Uphaar Cinema case, has not been dealt with sternly.

Way ahead

  • Political parties, civil society, and government must chart a new plan to make the older, built-up areas safe. 
  • The Supreme Court of India has come down on municipal authorities in Delhi in the past for this.
  • Rules under the new occupational safety code must be strong enough to protect workers. 
  • Less government and lax enforcement is bad policy.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Red Atlas Action Plan Map


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Red Atlas Action Plan Map

Mains level : Flood control and management in India

  • The Vice President has launched the red atlas action-plan map as part of the coastal flood warning system developed for Chennai.

Red Atlas Action-plan Map

  • The Atlas has been prepared by the Ministry of Earth Sciences to aid Tamil Nadu government in effective flood mitigation in Chennai.
  • The atlas with probable scenarios for different rainfall periods is aimed at flood mitigation, preparedness, operations and management aspects.
  • The manual provides information including on corporation wards that are likely to be affected due to flooding and the areas that may need evacuation in Chennai taking into account all historical datasets.

Coastal Flood Warning System app for Chennai (CFLOWS)

  • Launched by NIOT, CFLOWS is India’s first integrated coastal flood warning system.
  • It is an integrated GIS-based decision support system to provide forecast on potential inundation 10 days in advance.
  • CFLOWS can simulate the scenario and predict what will happen in a particular area.
  • It will be hosted and made operational at National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) with meteorological data inputs from IMD, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Coastal Digital Elevation Model (CoastalDEM)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coastal DEM

Mains level : Flood control and management in India

  • The number of Indians who stand to be affected by rising sea levels may have been underestimated by as much as 88%, according to a study.


  • CoastalDEM is a new software which uses more variables — vegetation cover, population indices — to estimate the actual land surface affected by floods.
  • Estimates on the risks posed by flooding rely on detailed maps of the globe taken by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) of NASA.
  • It was a radar mapping system that travelled aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000.
  • The maps so prepared form the basis for determining the elevation of the earth’s topography.

Flood risk in India

  • In India, 36 million people would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44 million by 2100 if emissions continue to rise unabated.
  • Nearly 21 million — and not 2.8 million — are expected to be living below the High Tide Line, the boundary that marks the farthest to which the sea reaches into the land at high tide.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDRI

Mains level : Need for Disaster resilient infrastructure

  • While speaking at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit PM Modi had announced the launch of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).


  • CDRI is envisaged as an international knowledge platform where countries can collaborate to make their existing and new infrastructure strong enough to withstand natural disasters.
  • It is the fruition of at least three years of discussions that India has had with more than 40 countries on this subject.
  • In simple terms, CDRI is an attempt to bring countries together to share and learn from the experiences of one another to protect their key infrastructure — highways, railways, power stations, communication lines, water channels, even housing — against disasters.

Need to protect infrastructure

  • Many countries, including India, have over the years developed robust disaster management practices that have helped in sharply reducing human casualties in a disaster.
  • However, the economic costs of a disaster remain huge, mainly due to the damage caused to big infrastructure.
  • According to a recent estimate by the World Bank, Cyclone Fani, which hit Odisha in May this year, caused damage to the tune of $4 billion.
  • The losses in the Kerala floods last year could be in excess of $4.4 billion, according to a post-disaster needs assessment report by the state government.


  • The platform is not meant to plan or execute infrastructure projects. Nor is it an agency that will finance infrastructure projects in member countries.
  • Instead, CDRI will seek to identify and promote best practices, provide access to capacity building, and work towards standardization of designs, processes and regulations relating to infrastructure creation and management.
  • It would also attempt to identify and estimate the risks to, and from, large infrastructure in the event of different kinds of disasters in member countries.
  • CDRI hopes to have as its member’s not just countries, but organisations like UN bodies, financial institutions, and other groups working on disaster management.

Moving away with basic infrastructure

  • Much of the developing world is still building its basic infrastructure.
  • Many developed countries are also in the process of replacing old infrastructure that has completed their lifetimes.
  • Future infrastructure needs to take into account the heightened risks arising out of the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and other adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Even existing infrastructure would need to be retrofitted to make them more resilient.
  • Disaster-proofing a project would involve changes in design, and use of newer technologies.
  • These involve additional costs which, however, are only a fraction of the losses that a disaster can bring.

An international forum

  • Disaster preparedness and infrastructure creation are largely national endeavors.
  • However, modern infrastructure is also a web of networked systems, not always confined to national boundaries.
  • There are increasing numbers of trans-national and trans-continental highways and railways; transmission lines carry electricity across countries; assets on a river are shared.
  • Damage to any one node can have cascading impacts on the entire network, resulting in loss of livelihoods and disruption in economic activity in places far away from the site of a disaster.
  • To make entire networks resilient is the main thought behind the Indian initiative of CDRI.


I. CDRI and Belt Road Initiative

  • CDRI has sometimes been seen as India’s response to the Belt Road Initiative, China’s ongoing multi-billion-dollar programme to recreate the ancient Silk Route trading links.
  • China is building massive new land and maritime infrastructure in several countries.
  • India and some other nations view this as an attempt by China to use its economic and military heft to usurp strategic assets in other countries.
  • Though the comparisons are not surprising given the competing strategic interests of the two neighbours, the magnitude and purpose of the two initiatives are starkly different.
  • Unlike BRI, CDRI is not an attempt by India to create or fund infrastructure projects in other countries.
  • Having said that, international initiatives like these are not without any strategic or diplomatic objective.

II. CDRI and Solar Alliance

  • A more relevant comparison of CDRI can, however be made with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) that India launched at the climate meeting in Paris in 2015.
  • ISA, which has evolved into a treaty-based organisation with more than 50 countries already signed up, aims at a collective effort to promote the deployment of solar energy across the world.
  • Its objective is to mobilise more than $1 trillion into solar power by 2030, and to deploy over 1,000 GW of solar generation capacity in member countries by that time.
  • India hosts ISA, with its headquarters in Gurgaon. The CDRI secretariat too would be based in New Delhi.
  • While it is not envisioned to take the shape of a treaty-based organisation, CDRI can be seen as complementing ISA’s efforts.
  • ISA is about climate change mitigation — deployment of more solar energy would bring down the reliance on fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • With these two initiatives, India is seeking to obtain a leadership role, globally, in matters related to climate change.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[oped of the day] Raining misery: On ongoing monsoon fury


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Climate change - cities - monsoon

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Bihar is struggling to stay afloat in the ongoing monsoon. 

Situation of Bihar

    • Large parts of the capital, Patna, have been paralysed without power and communications.
    • Critical rations are distributed by boat and helicopter. 
    • Its distress can be traced to poor infrastructure and a lack of administrative preparedness. 
    • The plight of people struggling with underdevelopment is worse. 
    • Across Bihar, there has been a significant loss of life and property. 
    • Similar distress has been reported from some other States as well, notably eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

Monsoon – changing pattern

    • The monsoon is expected to withdraw after October 10, more than a month behind normal.
    • It is consistent with the prevalent scientific view on the effects of a changing climate: extreme rainfall and drought occurring at an increased frequency. 
    • Normal patterns will become less common in coming years. 

Urbanisation at the centre

    • Indian cities are attracting heavy investments in several spheres.
    • State and municipal administrations have not matched their ambitions for development with capacity building and infrastructure creation. 
    • Ignoring urban planning and adaptation is proving costly, and losses are sapping the vitality of the economy. 
    • In its Cities and Climate Change report, the UNFCCC pointed to flooding as a key danger, apart from drought and heat islands. 
    • This is particularly true of urban centres through which rivers flow — such as Patna — and are often located on the coast, facing the additional threat of cyclones

Way ahead

    • They must focus on ensuring the safety of citizens and durability of economic assets. 
    • India’s cities should work towards solutions that use engineering and ecology to contain the excess water from rain and put it to good use. 
    • This could be in the form of new lakes and bioswales, which are vegetated channels to manage rainwater. 
    • States should be able to find financial and technical linkages to put up flood-handling structures.
    • In Bihar’s case, coordination with Nepal to track monsoon flows is also vital, since big Gangetic rivers originate in the Himalayan region.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Explained: Mapping lightning across India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Lightening mapping and its benefit

  • For the first time, a report has mapped lightning strikes across the country, and the lives they have claimed.

About the report

  • It has been prepared by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works closely with India Meteorological Department (IMD).

What has the report found?

  • Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July this year, according to a first-of-its-kind report on lightning incidents in India.
  • UP accounted for 224 of these deaths, followed by Bihar (170), Odisha (129) and Jharkhand (118).
  • It counted 65.55 lakh lightning strikes in India during this four-month period, of which 23.53 lakh (36 per cent) happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning, the kind that reaches the Earth.
  • The other 41.04 lakh (64 per cent) were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.
  • Odisha recorded over 9 lakh incidents of lightning (both kinds), the maximum for any state but fewer deaths than Uttar Pradesh, which had 3.2 lakh incidents.

Why are these findings important?

  • The report is part of an effort to create a database that can help develop an early warning system for lightning, spread awareness, and prevent deaths.
  • Between 2,000 and 2,500 people are estimated as killed every year in lightning strikes in the country.
  • It is possible to predict, 30-40 minutes in advance, when a lightning strike heads towards Earth.
  • The prediction is made possible through study and monitoring of the in-cloud lightning strikes.
  • Timely dissemination of this information can save several lives.
  • After carrying out a pilot project in 16 states, the IMD has begun providing lightning forecasts and warnings through mobile text messages from this year.
  • However, this is not yet available in all regions, and there isn’t enough awareness as yet on the kinds of action that need to be taken after an alert.



  • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere. Some of it is directed towards the Earth.
  • It is a result of the difference in electrical charge between the top and bottom of a cloud.
  • The lightning-generating clouds are typically about 10-12 km in height, with their base about 1-2 km from the Earth’s surface. The temperatures at the top range from -35°C to -45°C.

Mechanism of formation

  • As water vapour moves upwards in the cloud, it condenses into water due to decreasing temperatures.
  • A huge amount of heat is generated in the process, pushing the water molecules further up. As they move to temperatures below zero, droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • As they continue upwards, they gather mass, until they become so heavy that they start descending. It leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move upwards while larger ones come down.
  • The resulting collisions trigger release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks. The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons; a chain reaction is formed.
  • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge, of the order of billions of volts. In little time, a huge current, of the order of lakhs to millions of amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud. It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning.
  • The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder sounds.

How does it strike Earth?

  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity. While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud.
  • As a result, an estimated 20-25 per cent of the current flow gets directed towards the Earth. It is this current flow that results in damage to life and property.
  • Lightning has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings.
  • Once they are sufficiently near the ground, about 80-100 m from the surface, they even tend to redirect their course to hit the taller objects.
  • This is because travelling through air, which is a bad conductor of electricity, the electrons try to find a better conductor and also the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  • Thousands of thunderstorms occur over India every year. One thunderstorm can involve more than 100 lightning strikes.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDRI

Mains level : Need for Disaster resilient infrastructure

  • The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for the Establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.

International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

  • The CDRI is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA on 23rdSeptember 2019.
  • Organized by the UN Secretary General, this event will bring together the largest number of Heads of States to generate commitments for combating the effects of climate change and resulting disasters.

Components of CDRI

  • Establishment of the International ‘C.D.R.I.’ along with its supporting Secretariat office in New Delhi;
  • Establishment of the Secretariat of the CDRI as a Society under The Societies Registration Act,1860 in New Delhi as ‘CDRI Society’ or similar name as per availability.
  • The memorandum of association and by-laws of the ‘CDRI Society’ will be prepared and finalized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Major Impact

  • The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  • It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders.
  • In doing so, it will create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices, with regard to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.
  • Economically weaker sections, the most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters will be benefitted from the improvement of knowledge and practice in creating disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • In India, the north-eastern and Himalayan regions are prone to earthquakes, coastal areas to cyclones and tsunamis and central peninsular region to droughts.
  • It will also benefit all areas with high disaster risk.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Angikaar Campaign


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vulnerability Atlas of India, About the campaign

Mains level : Disaster management

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched “Angikaar” a campaign for change management and e-Course on Vulnerability Atlas of India.

Angikaar Campaign

  • The e-course is offered by the MoHUA in collaboration of School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC).
  • It is a unique course that offers awareness and understanding about natural hazards, helps identify regions with high vulnerability with respect to various hazards (earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, floods, etc.) and specifies district-wise level of damage risks to the existing housing stock.
  • The e-course will be a tool for effective & efficient disaster mitigation & management in the field of Architecture, Civil Engineering, Urban & Regional Planning, Housing & Infrastructure Planning etc.
  • Angikaar aims for social behaviour change, focusing on issues such as water & energy conservation, waste management, health, tree plantation, sanitation and hygiene for beneficiaries of completed houses under PMAY (U).
  • For this purpose, the campaign will converge with schemes and Missions of other Ministries dealing with these subjects.
  • The convergence would especially focus on Ujjwala for gas connection and Ayushman Bharat for health insurance to the beneficiaries of PMAY (U).

Vulnerability Atlas of India

  • PM has released the Third Edition of Vulnerability Atlas of India March, 2019.
  • The third edition of Atlas brought out by BMTPC is collation of the existing hazard scenario for the entire country and presents the digitized State/UT-wise Hazard Maps with respect to Earthquakes, Winds & Floods for district-wise identification of vulnerable areas.
  • This edition contains additional digitized maps for Thunderstorms, Cyclones and Landslides.
  • The Atlas also presents the district-wise Housing Vulnerability Risk Tables based on wall types and roof types as per 2011 Census Housing data.
  • The Atlas is a useful tool not only for public but also for urban managers, State & National Authorities dealing with disaster mitigation and management.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] Biodiversity in the time of deluge


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Floods - causes - impact


Floods impact the poorest strata of society the most, causing a loss of lives, livelihood options, and assets. There is a need for assessment of floods from a ‘sustainable development’ perspective.

Causes for floods

  1. The root cause of such floods is the high precipitation levels.
  2. Anthropogenic factors like unscientific development and over-exploitation of nature aggravate the damages.
  3. The global climate has been changing in an unpredictable manner. As per an IPCC report, the Global Green House Gases emissions grew by 70% between 1970 and 2004. Global warming has critical effects on the hydrological cycle.
  4. In Kerala, a structural transformation and changing patterns of land use are affecting its environment. A loss in a wetland area will naturally impact the ability to handle floods.

Impact of floods

  1. The changing precipitation alters the hydrological systems, resulting in floods and droughts in different regions.
  2.  Floods wash away topsoil and substantial biodiversity of the area, resulting in a reduced river-water flow, death of earthworms and spread of viral and bacterial diseases among crops.

Way ahead

  1. Adequate precautions through dam management and timely public alerts.
  2. In construction, it is important to take appropriate decisions on the type and size of the structure, location, materials, and permissible damage it will cause to nature.
  3. We need to account for the damage done to natural ecosystems while estimating losses suffered due to natural disasters.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Flooding has become a calendar event in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Flooding - reasons

Rains have battered Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra leaving many dead and several missing. Parts of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Assam are also reeling under torrential rainfall.


  1. Weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable with every passing year leading to extreme heat, cold and flooding.
  2. This is the effect of climate change caused by years of carbon emissions and the exploitation of natural resources.
  3. Construction booms of the past few decades have taken a toll on wetlands and river valleys across states.
  4. Excessive use of concrete and the illegal encroachment of river banks and lakes have constricted natural drainage systems.

Way ahead

India must strengthen institutional capacity for disaster mitigation and relief

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters”


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the charter

Mains level : Disaster management

Sharing space data for flood control

  • With Assam inundated by floods, several countries including China, Russia and France collaborated with India on sharing satellite images of the scale of inundation.
  • As signatories to the The International Charter Space and Major Disasters, any of the 32 member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter.
  • This would immediately trigger a request by the coordinators to space agencies of other countries whose satellites have the best eyes on the site of the disaster.

About the charter

  • The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
  • It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in July 1999.
  • Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.
  • Charter addresses both natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, tsunamis, ocean storms, volcanic eruptions and man made disasters like oil spills and industrial accidents.
  • India has signed the charter in 2001.

India too raises its helping hand

  • This is a standard practice under the charter and in the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests.
  • In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province and killed 398.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Explained: Why Assam is prone to floods and what’s the solution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Controlling Floods


Assam is in the grip of yet another flood, with 57 lakh people displaced, all 33 districts affected, and 36 people killed besides hundreds of animals. This is the first wave of floods this monsoon, and flood control experts expect at least two more.

Why are floods so destructive in Assam?

At the crux is the very nature of the river Brahmaputra —dynamic and unstable. Its 580,000 sq km basin spreads over four countries: China, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan, with diverse environments.

In terms of sediment yield, two spots along the Brahmaputa’s course were at second and third places in 2008, behind the Yellow River whose annual sediment yield is 1,403 tonnes per sq km.

The Brahmaputra’s annual sediment yield was 1,128 tonnes per sq km at Bahadurabad of Bangladesh, and 804 tonnes per sq km at Pandu of Guwahati.

Assam, Assam floods, Assam flood news, Assam weather, Assam news, Assam rain news, Assam floods army, Baksa, Baksa assam, Kaziranga National Park, indian express, latest news
Assam floods: The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates.

How do these characteristics of the river relate to flooding?

  • The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates. “That region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river.
  • By the time the river enters Assam — a state comprising primarily floodplains surrounded by hills on all sides — it deposits vast amounts of this silt, leading to erosion and floods.
  • As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment.
  • Again, because of the earthquake-prone nature of the region, the river has not been able to acquire a stable character.
  • Following the devastating earthquake of 1950, the level of the Brahmaputra rose by two metres in Dibrugarh area in eastern Assam.
  • Besides these natural factors are the man-made ones — habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China) — which lead to higher sedimentation.
  • For example, the sediment deposition itself creates temporary sandbars or river islands.
  • It is common for people to settle in such places, which restricts the space the river has to flow. When rainfall is heavy, it combines with all these factors and leads to destructive floods. This happens very frequently.

Has the government tried to address the factors that cause floods?

  • In its master plan on the river in 1982, the Brahmaputra Board had suggested that dams and reservoirs be built to mitigate floods.
  • The idea of dams, however, has traditionally been a double-edged sword. While one of their objectives is to regulate the release of flood waters, the release when it comes can sometimes be beyond the capacity of the channels downstream.
  • In the Brahmaputra basin, locals and environmentalists protested against dam-building plans on grounds of displacement and destruction of evology, preventing the plans from moving forward.

Building embankments

  • As such, the government has been using only one approach towards floods: building embankments on the river. “Embankments were proposed only as an interim and ad hoc measure for short-term mitigation,” said Aaranyak’s Das. Their lack of durability has often been on display.
  • “Most embankments built in the 1980s are not strong enough.
  • Since they were temporary measures, the government did not spend on high-specification embankments. These are weak and are regularly breached.


The government also considered dredging, basically digging up the riverbed and making the river “deeper”. However, experts have strongly advised against this simply because the Brahmaputra sediment yield is among the highest in the world.

But, is there a long-term solution?

  •  For a sustainable solution, there needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem.
  • An “integrated basin management” system that should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board
  • Addressing the issues only in Assam when the flood strikes isn’t the solution — one needs the countries to come to an understanding about taking measures in the catchment areas.
  •  For that, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are important.
  • Flood-plain zoning, which is done the US. “Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories, and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house etc,”
  • That is one option. We can’t help the rain but we can certainly control the damage caused by floods.”

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Resilient Kerala Program


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Resilient Kerala Program

Mains level : Disaster management

  • The Union, the Govt. of Kerala and the World Bank have signed a Loan Agreement of for the First Resilient Kerala Program to enhance the State’s resilience against the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.

Resilient Kerala Program

  • The Resilient Kerala Program is part of the GoI’s support to Kerala’s ‘Rebuild Kerala Development Programme’ aimed at building a green and resilient Kerala.
  • The Program, which represents the First ‘State Partnership’ of the World Bank in India, is the First of two Development Policy Operations aiming to mainstream disaster and climate resilience into critical infrastructure and services.
  • The World Bank partnership will identify key areas of policy and institutional strengthening to maximize development impact.
  • The Program will focus on strengthening the State’s institutional and financial capacity to protect the assets and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable groups through an inclusive and participatory approach.

 Aim and Objectives

The program aims to support the State with:

  • improved river basin planning and water infrastructure operations management, water supply and sanitation services
  • resilient and sustainable  agriculture, enhanced agriculture risk insurance
  • improved resilience of the core road network
  • unified and more up-to-date land records in high risk areas
  • risk-based urban planning and strengthened expenditure planning by urban local bodies
  • strengthened fiscal and public financial management capacity of the state

Why such programme?

  • The 2018 floods and landslides in Kerala led to severe impact on property, infrastructure, and lives and livelihoods of people.
  • One sixth of the State’s population – about 5.4 million people – was affected while 1.4 million were displaced from their homes, especially the poor and vulnerable segments of the population.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Flood Hazard Zonation Atlas for Odisha


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Flood control and management

  • Odisha has come out with a unique flood hazard atlas on the basis of historic flood inundation captured through satellite imagery over the period from 2001 to 2018.
  • It is expected to help the State manage floods more efficiently.

Flood Hazard Zonation Atlas

  • The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the ISRO had taken the study on flood hazard Zonation for Odisha.
  • A large number of satellite images acquired over 18 years (2001-2018) were used. All satellite data sets were analysed and flood layers were extracted.
  • All the flood layers corresponding to a year are combined as one inundation layer, so that this layer represents the maximum flooded area in one year.
  • The NRSC analysis says about 8.96% (13.96 lakh hectares) of land in Odisha was affected by floods during 2001-2018. Out of total flood-affected area (13.96 lakh hectares), about 2.81 lakh hectares of land falls under high (inundated seven-nine times) to very high (inundated 10-14 times) flood hazard categories.
  • Eight out of 30 districts such as Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghapur, Balasore, Puri, Jajpur, Khordha and Cuttack districts are more flood-affected districts.
  • As high as 77% of Bhadrak and 70% of the Kendrapara district have been categorised as flood hazard.

Why Odisha?

  • Vast areas of the State are inundated when there is flooding every year in major rivers, namely, the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha and Rushikulya.
  • Some of the rivers like, the Vamsadhara and Budhabalanga, also cause flash floods due to instant run-off from their hilly catchments.
  • Damages due to floods are caused mainly by the Mahanadi, the Brahmani and the Baitarani, which have a common delta where floodwaters intermingle, and, when in spate simultaneously, wreak considerable havoc.
  • The entire coastal belt is prone to storm surges, which is usually accompanied by heavy rainfall, thus making the estuary region vulnerable to both storm surges and river flooding.

A useful resource

  • All such combined flood layers for 18 years were integrated into flood hazard layer representing the observed flood-inundated areas with different frequencies.
  • This layer was integrated with the digital database layers of Odisha.
  • The atlas would serve as a useful resource of information for policy makers, planners and civil society groups.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] Fire and laissez-faire: fix accountability for Surat tragedy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Fire safety measures should be stringent.


The deadly fire in a Surat coaching centre that resulted in the death of 22 young people highlights the gap between India’s dreamy visions of smart cities and the cruel reality of urban chaos and lawlessness.

Flawed Urbanisation

These young Indians are the latest victims of a culture of laissez-faire urbanisation that city governments have bred and which the courts allow to be pursued without severe penalties.

History of fire incidents

  • India’s abysmal record on fire safety is reflected in the death of 17,700 people countrywide in fires in both public and residential buildings during 2015, according to the latest available data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Periodically, high-profile cases such as the Uphaar cinema blaze in Delhi that killed 59 people in 1997, and the Kumbakonam school fire in Tamil Nadu in 2004 in which 94 children perished shock the nation, but even these are not strong enough to persuade governments to make fire safety the priority it should be.

Accountability is missing

Neither has prolonged, aggressive litigation by the affected families in the Uphaar case made a difference, because the criminal culpability of the administrative machinery and officials who sanctioned unsafe buildings, often in return for bribes, remains largely unaddressed.

Ignorance towards safety norms

Negligence by the fire department – The Surat fire cannot be called an accident, since there are reports of notices having been served to the builder on the risks, but not pursued by the Fire Department.

Negligence by civic department – Civic officials have displayed unforgivable indifference, since two deaths occurred in another coaching centre in the city late last year.

That tragedy should have led to a comprehensive review of public buildings.

Way forward

Look for deviation – The present inquiry into the disaster should go into any deviations from the sanctioned plan for the commercial building housing the coaching centre, and the role of urban planning officials in allowing it to come up.

Responsibility of the judiciary – Ultimately, litigation on fire disasters goes to the courts, and it is essential for the judiciary to send out the message that there will be no tolerance to corruption and evasion in the enforcement of building rules and fire safety.

Enforcing accountability –

  • Beyond suspending a few officials and filing cases against the building owners, there is a need to make an example of sanctioning and enforcement authorities.
  • The unwavering message must be that Indians demand accountability. Mandatory Building Insurance
  • Mandating compulsory insurance for all public buildings against fire risk and public liability can bring about a change to the way architects and builders approach the question of safety, since the insurer would require a reduction of risk and compliance with building plans. At least, that would be a start to rewriting India’s shameful record on fire safety.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

‘Room for the River’ Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Room for the River Project

Mains level : Flood control and management

  • The Kerala CM after returning from the Netherlands tour spoke of incorporating the model for flood control in the state’s ‘Rebuild Kerala’ plan.

‘Room for the River’ Project

  • The flagship project of the Dutch government is centered on protecting areas adjoining rivers from routine flooding and improving water management systems in delta regions.
  • The basic premise of the Dutch project is essentially to provide more space for the water body so that it can manage extraordinary high water levels during floods.
  • The project implemented at over 30 locations across the Netherlands and funded at a cost of 2.3 billion euros, involves tailor-made solutions for each river.
  • Among the nine measures which define the project are lowering the flood plain, deepening the summer bed, strengthening of dykes, relocation of dykes, reducing the height of the groynes, increasing the depth of the side channels and removing obstacles.
  • A key aspect of the project is also to improve the surroundings of the river banks through fountains and panoramic decks.
  • The landscapes are altered in a way that they turn into natural sponges which can accommodate excess water during floods.

Why such move?

  • Last year, Kerala had witnessed the century’s worst floods, which claimed nearly 500 lives and wiped out thousands of homes.
  • The Netherlands has historically been prone to flooding of rivers due to its low elevation. Much of the country lies below the sea level.
  • The country is located in the delta region of several major rivers like the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt.
  • In fact, the rise of water levels in the sea and rivers due to the effects of climate change is one of the major challenges facing the Dutch.
  • But over the years, the country’s expert water management techniques and creation of independent local government bodies for flood control have borne praise across the world.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction

Mains level : Multiple facets of Disasters in India and thier effective management

  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) conferred Sasakawa Award 2019 for Disaster Risk Reduction to Dr. Pramod Kumar Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India.

Why this Award?

  • Mishra was awarded for his concentrated efforts and dedication towards serving the communities that are most exposed to disasters.
  • He has selflessly worked to the cause of social inclusion to reduce inequality and poverty, ultimately benefitting the socially and economically marginalized in the country.

Sasakawa Award

  • The UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is awarded to an individual or institutions that have taken active efforts in reducing disaster risk in their communities and advocates for disaster risk reduction.
  • It was instituted in 1986 and is jointly organized by the UNDRR and the Nippon Foundation.
  • A total grant of USD 50,000 is distributed among the winners which can be either organizations or individuals.
  • The theme of the 2019 Sasakawa award was “Building Inclusive and Resilient Societies”.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GFDRR

Mains level : Disaster management in India

  • India is unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  • The decision was taken during the CG meeting of GFDRR held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

  • GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
  • GFDRR is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  • It is presently working on the ground with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners and provides knowledge, funding, and technical assistance.

India and GFDRR

  • India became member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair in last meeting of CG held in October 2018.
  • India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • This is the first time that India has been afforded the opportunity of co-chairing the CG meeting of GFDRR.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] Surviving Fani


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cyclone Fani

Mains level : Change in disater managemnet from past and efforts required to rebuild Odisha


The Odisha government has shown by example how to manage a natural disaster.


Cyclone Fani has left a trail of destruction across a large part of coastal Odisha, but its management has emerged as a global example of how timely weather alerts, preparedness and informed public participation can dramatically reduce loss of life.

Change from Past cyclones – The toll from the extremely severe cyclonic storm on May 3 stood, at last count, at 34 deaths. In terms of material losses, several districts were battered, houses flattened and electricity and telecommunications infrastructure destroyed, but the relatively low mortality shows a dramatic transformation from the loss of over 10,000 lives in 1999 when super cyclone 05B struck.

Preparedness during Fani

Odisha then worked to upgrade its preparedness, which was tested when very severe cyclonic storm Phailin struck in 2013.

It was able to bring down the number of deaths to 44 then, in spite of a wide arc of destruction: 13 million people were hit and half a million houses destroyed.

Pathway for future

Rebuilding infrastructure – The Odisha government and the Centre now have the task of rebuilding infrastructure.

Upgradation – They should use the opportunity to upgrade technology, achieve cost efficiencies and build resilience to extreme weather, all of which can minimise future losses.

Global Environment Funding – Given the vulnerability of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to cyclones, the frequency and intensity of which may be influenced by a changing climate, the Centre should press for global environmental funding under the UN framework to help in the rebuilding.

Both States have received funding from the World Bank in cyclone risk mitigation efforts since 2011.

Steps to be taken to restore normalcy in Odisha

Restoring Electricity and telecommunications – The priority in Odisha is to restore electricity and telecommunications, which will require massive manpower.

Health Interventions – This should be treated as a national mission. Public health interventions are paramount to avoid disease outbreaks.

Other measures – The State government has been able to restore some physical movement by opening up highways and district roads; the Centre has relieved tension among students by postponing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test in Odisha.

Overall Preparedness for disasters

Building resilience – Looking ahead, India must prepare for many more intense and frequent cyclones along the coastal States. Preparedness has to focus on building resilience and strengthening adaptation.


This can be achieved through better-designed houses and cyclone shelters, good early warning systems, periodic drills and financial risk reduction through insurance.

Early weather warnings-

Early weather warnings hold the key to better management, and during the Fani episode the India Meteorological Department played a crucial role. Its commendable performance has been recognised by the UN as well.


Odisha’s experience, which coincides with similar devastation along east Africa this year, will be keenly followed at the UN Disaster Risk Reduction conference convening on May 13 in Geneva.


Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

Mains level : Multiple facets of Disasters in India and thier effective management

  • The Face of Disasters 2019 report was recently published by Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS).

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

  • The ‘Face of Disasters 2019’ report released by SEEDS as part of its 25th anniversary, analyses past trends, looking at disasters from a broader perspective to capture their varied facets.
  • The report talks about the need to look at disaster vulnerabilities that lie under the radar, waiting to strike.
  • Eight key areas have emerged that will be critical to consider as we look ahead:
  1. Water and the changing nature of disaster risk: A ‘new normal’ of rainfall variability is bringing challenges of too much and too little water, often in parallel.
  2. No disaster is ‘natural’: Risks lurking under the radar slip through the cracks because they don’t meet the idea of a ‘natural disaster’.
  3. The silent events: The disasters that go unseen leave those affected at even greater risk.
  4. Land becomes water (and water becomes land): Changes to the coastline are already affecting livelihood sources and will be hotspots for vulnerability in the future.
  5. The complexity of disaster impact: Beyond official ‘damages’, the long-term and uncaptured disaster impacts have life-changing consequences for affected communities.
  6. The urban imperative: Risk is rapidly urbanising and will affect everyone.
  7. Transformations in the third pole: Himalayan glaciers are melting, with serious implications for the whole region.
  8. Planning for what you can’t see: Earthquake risk is looming large under the radar, but are we prepared?

Significance of the report

  • Analysis of past trends shows us that 2019 will see unusual flooding, as well as heatwaves and drought that are already ongoing.
  • The complexity of disasters today requires a proactive and multi-pronged approach.
  • A single mega-disaster can wipe out hard-won development gains and recurrent small-scale stresses keep vulnerable families in a cycle of poverty.
  • While this multiple event pattern is repeated every year, only a few really capture the public attention. Other risks continue to intensify under the radar.

Way Forward

  • Current trends are reinforcing that disasters have multiple facets and complexities.
  • In 2018, India witnessed nearly every type of natural hazard, except a major earthquake and related events.
  • Floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, lightning strikes, cyclones and even hailstorms, a wide range of disasters impacted most of the country.
  • This poses some critical questions and issues and also points to risks that lie ahead. At the core is the idea that disasters cannot be seen in isolation anymore.
  • There is a clear need for comprehensive understanding of risks, and hyper-localised plans and allocation of resources to reduce them.


Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS)

  • SEEDS, a non profit voluntary organization, is a collective endeavor of young professionals drawn from development related fields.
  • It originated as an informal group of likeminded persons, getting together for the purpose of creative research projects of academic interest.
  • The group was later formalized in early 1994 and has been active in the field ever since.
  • It is involved in research activities in Community Development, Disaster Management, Environmental Planning, Transport Planning, and Urban and Regional Planning.
  • Activities are carried out on behalf of government, semi – government and international development agencies. Independent programs on vital issues are also taken up.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Sudden release of water from dams worsened Kerala floods


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EAP

Mains level : Disaster management in India

  • The amicus curiae appointed by the Kerala High Court to assist it in flood-related cases informed the court that the sudden release of water simultaneously from different reservoirs had aggravated the damage during the floods.

Poor dam management

  • The dams in Kerala did not have an effective flood control zone and flood cushions.
  • The flood cushion or flood control zone was a temporary storage space for absorbing high flow for alleviating downstream flood damage.
  • None of the dams in the State were operated or used for the purpose of flood control and moderation, despite the obligation to utilise them for flood control as per the stipulations under the National Water Policy, National Disaster Management Authority guidelines on flood and RTIO (real-time integrated operation).
  • It seemed that high reservoir storage and sudden release of water had resulted in worsening the floods.
  • Various alerts (blue/orange/red) were issued not in accordance with the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) guidelines.
  • No proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps, especially for evacuating people and accommodating them in safe locations, were taken after the issue of red alert.

No EAP in dams

  • None of the dams had EAP (Emergency Action Plan) despite the mandate of the National Disaster Management Authority to have it by 2009.
  • The EAP was a written document prepared by the dam operator and it contained plans to prevent or lessen the impact of a failure of the dam or appurtenant structure.
  • It could be inferred that most of the major reservoirs were almost full before the extreme rainfall and they did not have the capacity to accommodate the additional flow.
  • This compelled the authorities to release substantial amount of water from reservoirs in a short span of time at the peak of the rainfall.
  • Almost all dams released water only after the water level crossed the FRL (Full Reservoir Level) or reached the MWL (maximum water level).


Amicus Curiae to the Court

  • An amicus curiae (literally, “friend of the court”; plural, amici curiae) is someone, who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party.
  • It is he/she who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

India sets up private sector alliance for DRR


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  ARISE India

Mains level: Various DRR initiatives


  • India has set up private sector alliance for disaster resilient communities, known as ARISE, an initiative supported by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).


  • ARISE stands for the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies.
  • It is a UNISDR-led network of private sector entities, whose members voluntarily commit to align with the Sendai Framework.
  • Already 140 companies worldwide are members of ARISE.
  • Its members share information, experience, activities, and projects, while the level of involvement and resources is at the discretion of each member.
  • Most activities and interactions are a local and regional level, and ARISE is structured accordingly.

Why such move?

  • The government has taken the initiative to strengthen private sector participation and investment in building disaster resilient infrastructure and bring down disaster losses, one of the key goals of the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction.
  • This will bring Indian corporates to work in tandem with the government to take action before a disaster strikes and build back better after a calamity.
  • ARISE India would turn the private sector’s attention to the importance of action before a disaster strikes and to take advantage of opportunities that emerge to build back better after a disaster hits.

India’s losses to disasters

  • A study released by the UNISDR last year said India suffered economic losses of $80 billion during the 20-year period of 1998 to 2017.
  • India has been ranked among world’s top five countries in absolute economic losses.


United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • The UNISDR created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
  • It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
  • UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] A tragedy that was long in the making


Mains Paper 3: Environment| Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of ill-effects of illegal coal-mining in Meghalaya.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues with illegal rat-hole mining in Meghalaya causing ruinous effects on the environment, in a brief manner.


  • The efforts to reach the 15 miners trapped in an illegal coal mine in the East Jaintia hills of Meghalaya since December 13 continue.
  • However, these efforts began belatedly and have faced many problems.
  • Further, illegal rat-hole mining in Meghalaya persists despite ruinous effects on the environment.

Rescue efforts were doomed from the beginning

  • First, the Meghalaya government has no idea what happens inside these rat-hole mines, which are barely 2 ft wide, since mining is a private activity.
  • Despite the National Green Tribunal ban of April 2014, mining continues in the State.
  • Second, it was unfortunate that the district administration assumed the miners to be dead on the very day of the tragedy.
  • This assumption was evident in the letter written to the National Disaster Response Force.
  • It was only after a Delhi-based lawyer and his team of human rights lawyers presented their suggestions to the court that the Meghalaya government got different actors to the accident site.

Issue: Why things were delayed?

  • The distance of the mine was a major hindrance.
  • The trapped miners were being racially profiled in the minds of the people and the state.
  • Of the 15 miners, only three were locals from the nearby village of Lumthari.
  • The rest were Muslims from Garo Hills, Meghalaya, and Bodoland, Assam.
  • Their socio-economic profile also worked against them.
  • They were the poorest of the poor who took a huge risk to enter a mine and dig for coal without any safety gear.

Other challenges faced: No single person or agency to coordinate the rescue mission

  • When a mine is flooded, the immediate response, apart from pumping out the water, is to stop further flow of water into it.
  • This requires a hydrologist to scientifically map out the area from where water entered the mine.
  • Sudhir Kumar, a hydrologist from the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, arrived only two weeks after the disaster.
  • So did the divers from the Indian Navy and the 100 HP water pumps from Kirloskar Brothers.
  • The remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) from Planys in Chennai came three weeks later and so did the geologists from Hyderabad.
  • All these delays happened because there was no one person or agency to coordinate the rescue mission.

Questions arise with respect to rat-hole mining of coal

  • Why does the state allow this archaic mining system, which has complete disregard for human life and safety?
  • Why is Meghalaya exempted from national mining laws?

Ill-effects of Rat-hole mining

  • Rat-hole mining, which started with gusto in the 1980s, has poisoned three rivers in the Jaintia hills: the Myntdu, Lunar and Lukha.
  • Scientists from the North-Eastern Hill University have found that these rivers have very high acidic levels.
  • Reports from other agencies suggest that pH of the water and sulphate and iron concentrations indicate significant deterioration of the rivers.
  • Acid mine drainage from abandoned mines was a major cause for water pollution in the areas investigated, the reports added.

Arguments of coal mine owners

  • According to the coal mine owners, rat-hole mining should continue because no other form of mining is viable.
  • They argue that the NGT ban should be lifted since they claim that coal mining provides livelihoods for many.

Tribes of Meghalaya are divided on the issue of rat-hole mining

  • Those who care for the environment and for a future for their children and grandchildren have been clamouring for an end to the practice of rat-hole mining and reckless limestone mining.
  • On the other hand, the mining elite have mobilised forces to demonise environmental activists.
  • To add to these woes, cement companies also release their effluents into the rivers.
  • So now a deadly cocktail of pollutants is being released into the environment.
  • The scale of the problem is clear in this one fact: there are 3,923 coal mines in one district with a geographical area of 2126 sq. km.

Meghalaya is a Sixth Schedule State

  • The other troubling factor is that coal mine owners are insisting that since Meghalaya is a State under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, national mining laws should be exempted here.
  • The Sixth Schedule was enacted to protect the community rights of tribals from any form of exploitation of their land and resources.
  • It cannot be used as an instrument to protect an activity that is a private enterprise and inhuman. It also violates Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Therefore, it seems that the Sixth Schedule is unable to protect the forests and rivers that are common property resources.
  • Acid mine drainage has rendered even agricultural land non-productive. Mine owners do not care about environmental degradation.

Abandoning their responsibility

  • There is complete disregard for corporate social responsibility by coal mine owners because the mines are privately owned by the tribals.
  • They have left thousands of abandoned mines as human graves.
  • The State also does not insist that they reclaim and afforest those mines.
  •  In 40 years of mining and profiteering, the mine owners have till date not constructed a single hospital or even a school.


  • The Central government and the Supreme Court should not allow this to carry on in one part of the country when strict laws are applied elsewhere.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Yellow Alert sounded as Cyclone Pabuk reaches A&N Islands


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Cyclone Warning Systems of IMD

Mains level: Increasing incidences of tropical cyclones


Pabuk Cyclone

  1. A ‘yellow alert’ was issued in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Saturday as Cyclone Pabuk made its way towards the archipelago.
  2. The cyclone was originated over the Gulf of Thailand.
  3. It has moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 10 kmph and lay centred over Thailand and neighbourhood.

Weather Warning Systems

  1. Colour coded weather warning system is used to alert the public to the predicted severity of weather: cyclones, floods, storms and winds.
  2. The colour system ranges from green, which is low risk, to red, which is the highest risk of severe conditions.
  3. Lets overlook these:


  • Yellow level weather alerts is to notify those who are at risk because of their location and/or activity, and to allow them to take preventative action.
  • It is used for weather conditions that do not pose an immediate threat to the general population, but only to those exposed to risk by nature of their location and/or activity.


  • Orange level indicates the weather conditions which have the capacity to impact significantly on people in the affected areas.
  • Its issue implies that all recipients in the affected areas should prepare themselves in an appropriate way for the anticipated conditions.

3.  RED

  • Red level severe weather warnings should be a comparatively rare event and implies that recipients take action to protect themselves and/or their properties.
  • This is usually done by moving their families out of the danger zone temporarily (evacuation), by staying indoors or by other specific actions aimed at mitigating the effects of the weather conditions.
  • It is in the case of a red weather alert that we could see serious disruption to public transport, road closures and school closures.
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