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

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

India’s G20 Presidency and Disaster Risk Management


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G20, Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG)

Mains level : India's G20 presidency and leadership in disaster risk management

Central Idea

  • The endorsement of a new working group on disaster risk reduction by the G20, under India’s presidency, presents an opportunity to prioritize disaster risk financing and achieve the targets set by the Sendai framework for 2030. The increasing occurrence of natural and human-made catastrophes globally has highlighted the need for competent financial risk management and insurance.

The Need for Disaster Risk Financing

  • Recent years have witnessed a surge in both natural and human-made catastrophes worldwide. Disasters not only exacerbate poverty and hinder development but also generate social polarization.
  • Lack of competent financial risk management and insurance has allowed risks to proliferate, causing havoc in society and the economy. Annual disaster losses have a significant impact on low-income economies

The Role of the G20 in Strengthening Financial Risk Management

  • Enhancing Risk Understanding and Integration: The G20 can support countries in enhancing their understanding of disaster risks and integrating them into government planning and budget processes. This includes promoting the development and dissemination of risk assessment tools, methodologies, and best practices.
  • Strengthening Regulation and Supervision in the Insurance Industry: Effective regulation, legislation, and supervision are crucial for the insurance industry to play a proactive role in managing disaster risks. The G20 can facilitate dialogue and cooperation among regulators and policymakers to establish robust frameworks that ensure fair and transparent insurance practices
  • Facilitating Public-Private Partnerships: Public-private partnerships are essential for managing and financing disaster risks effectively. The G20 can foster an enabling environment for partnerships between governments, private sector entities, and financial institutions.
  • Shifting from Ex-post to Ex-ante Financing Mechanisms: Traditionally, financial resources for disaster response, recovery, and reconstruction have been mobilized after an event occurs (ex-post financing). The G20 can advocate for a shift towards ex-ante financing mechanisms, where financial resources are pre-arranged and readily available to respond to disasters.
  • Encouraging Investment in Disaster Risk Reduction: There is a scarcity of investment in a development-oriented approach that focuses on reducing disaster risks. The G20 can promote investment in disaster risk reduction by raising awareness about the benefits of resilience-building measures and creating incentives for both public and private sectors to allocate resources towards risk reduction initiatives.

What is Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG)?

  • The Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group is a newly endorsed working group within the G20 that focuses on disaster risk reduction.
  • It serves as a platform for member countries to collaborate and share knowledge on effective strategies for managing and reducing disaster risks.
  • It aims to address key components of comprehensive financial management strategies for disaster risks, including risk assessment, insurance coverage, financial assistance, and risk transfer mechanisms.

Facts for prelims

What is Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (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.

Significance of the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG)

  • Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration: The DRRWG provides a platform for member countries to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices in disaster risk reduction. It facilitates collaboration and learning from diverse approaches and methodologies employed by different nations.
  • Harmonization and Standardization: The DRRWG promotes harmonization and standardization of definitions, methodologies, and data collection practices related to disaster risk assessment and financing. This improves comparability and enables better analysis and benchmarking of disaster risks across different regions.
  • Access to International Markets: By harmonizing definitions and methodologies, the DRRWG helps countries improve access to international (re)insurance markets. Standardized approaches and better data quality enhance the confidence of insurers and reinsurers, facilitating the availability of insurance coverage and risk transfer mechanisms.
  • Comprehensive Financial Management Strategies: The DRRWG aims to address all key components of comprehensive financial management strategies for disaster risks. Comprehensive strategies enhance countries’ abilities to manage and reduce disaster risks effectively.
  • Investment in Disaster Risk Reduction: The DRRWG emphasizes the importance of investment in disaster risk reduction initiatives. By providing screening criteria for disaster-resilient investments and entities, the DRRWG helps guide investment decisions toward reducing risks and building resilience.
  • Global Resilience Building: The efforts of the DRRWG contribute to global resilience-building against disasters. By fostering cooperation, sharing expertise, and promoting best practices, the DRRWG strengthens the collective capacity of member countries to mitigate, manage, and recover from disasters, ultimately enhancing global resilience.

How India can guide G20’s disaster management initiatives?

  • Setting the Agenda: India, as the G20 president, can prioritize disaster management on the agenda of G20 meetings and discussions. By emphasizing the importance of disaster resilience and risk reduction, India can ensure that member countries address these issues at the highest level of international cooperation.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Capacity Building: India can lead efforts to facilitate knowledge sharing and capacity building among G20 member countries in the field of disaster management. This can involve organizing workshops, training programs, and conferences to promote the exchange of best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches.
  • Policy Advocacy: India can advocate for policy measures that strengthen disaster management capabilities. This includes encouraging the adoption of robust regulatory frameworks, promoting risk-based approaches, and supporting the integration of disaster risk reduction into national development plans and policies.
  • Financial Commitments: As the G20 president, India can encourage member countries to allocate financial resources towards disaster risk reduction and resilience-building initiatives. By highlighting the economic and social benefits of such investments, India can mobilize support for increased funding and financing mechanisms for disaster management.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: India can promote partnerships between governments and the private sector to enhance disaster management efforts. By fostering collaboration and sharing expertise, technologies, and resources, India can facilitate the development of innovative solutions and strengthen resilience across sectors.
  • International Cooperation: India can leverage its position as G20 president to strengthen international cooperation in disaster management. This involves collaborating with other international organizations, regional bodies, and stakeholders to coordinate efforts, share data and information, and foster a collective response to global disaster risks.


  • Prioritizing disaster risk financing within the G20, under India’s presidency, presents an opportunity to convert intentions into investment opportunities. India’s experience in dealing with natural disasters positions it to lead in disaster risk management.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Also Read:

Disasters at Himalayan Region (Uttarakhand)

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

Places in news: Nathu La


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nathu La Pass

Mains level : Not Much

nathu la

Several people have been killed and many others are feared trapped under snow after a massive avalanche near Sikkim’s Nathu La Mountain pass.

Nathu La Pass

Location Sikkim, on the border between India and China
Altitude 4,310 meters (14,140 ft)
Importance Historical Silk Route
Trade Reopened in 2006 for border trade between India and China
Restrictions Only for Indian and Chinese nationals with a valid visa
Connectivity Connects the Indian state of Sikkim with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China
Military importance Strategic importance in the Sino-Indian War of 1962
Tourism Restricted due to the sensitive nature of the region
Weather Harsh and unpredictable, with heavy snowfall in winter months
Border dispute The pass was closed by China after the 1962 war and was reopened only after the Chinese president visited India in 2003.


How has it been at the centre stage of India-China disputes?

  • Sino-Indian War: In 1962, Nathu La pass was a battleground between the Indian and Chinese armies during the Sino-Indian War. The conflict resulted in casualties on both sides, with China ultimately capturing the pass.
  • Skirmishes in 1967: In 1967, there were several minor skirmishes between the Indian and Chinese armies near Nathu La pass. The conflict was resolved through diplomatic negotiations.
  • Standoff in 2017: In 2017, there was a 73-day-long standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies near the Doklam plateau, which is close to Nathu La pass. The dispute was over the construction of a road by China in the disputed area. The standoff ended with both sides agreeing to disengage.


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

States demand that ‘Lightning’ be declared a Natural Disaster


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lightening

Mains level : Not Much

Central idea: A few states have requested lightning to be declared a natural disaster due to the high number of deaths caused by it in the country.

Why discuss this?

  • Around 2,500 people die every year due to lightning.
  • Present norms consider cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches, cloudbursts, pest attacks, frost, and cold waves as disasters covered under the State Disaster Response Fund.
  • Deliberations are necessary as it is a policy issue.

What is lightning?

  • Scientifically, lightning is a rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere some of which is directed towards earth.
  • The discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall.
  • The base of these clouds typically lie within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface, while the top is 12-13 km away.
  • Temperatures in the top of these clouds are in the range of –35° to –45°C.

Its formation

  • As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to condense.
  • As they move to temperatures below 0°C, the water droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • They continue to move up, gathering mass until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth.
  • This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
  • Collisions follow and trigger the release of electrons, a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity.
  • As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
  • This 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 a billion to 10 billion volts.
  • In very little time, a massive current, of the order of 100,000 to a million amperes, starts to flow between the layers.

Types of lightning

  • Broadly, there are three forms of lightning:
  1. Inter-cloud
  2. Intra-cloud
  3. Cloud-to-ground
  • It is the cloud-to-ground form of lightning that kills humans, as well as animals and livestock, and can substantially damage property.
  • While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral.
  • However, in comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, it becomes positively charged.
  • As a result, about 15%-20% of the current gets directed towards the Earth as well.
  • It is this flow of current that results in damage to life and property on Earth.

How intensely does it strike?

  • A typical lightning flash is about 300 million volts and30,000 amps.
  • To put it in perspective, household current is 120 volts and 15 amps.
  • A flash of lightning is enough to light a 100-watt incandescent bulb for about three months.

Why does lightning kill so many people in India?

  • The reason for the high number of deaths is due to people being caught unawares and more than 70% of fatalities happened due to people standing under isolated tall trees.
  • About 25 per cent of the people were struck in the open.
  • Also, lightning is the direct promulgation of climate change extremities.

Mitigating lightning incidents

  • Lightning is not classified as a natural disaster in India.
  • But recent efforts have resulted in the setting up of an early warning system that is already saving many lives.
  • More than 96% of lightning deaths happen in rural areas.
  • As such, most of the mitigation and public awareness programmes need to focus on these communities.
  • Lightning protection devices are fairly unsophisticated and low-cost. Yet, their deployment in the rural areas, as of now, is extremely low.
  • States are being encouraged to prepare and implement lightning action plans, on the lines of heat action plans.
  • An international centre for excellence on lightning research to boost detection and early warning systems is also in the process of being set up.


Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left

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

ISRO releases Landslide Atlas of India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Landslide Atlas of Indi

Mains level : Heavt rain induced disasters


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently released the Landslide Atlas of India to identify landslide hotspots in the country.

What are Landslides?

  • Landslides are natural disasters that occur in mountainous terrains where soil, rock, geology, and slope conditions are conducive.
  • A landslide is the sudden movement of rock, boulders, earth, or debris down a slope.
  • They can be triggered by natural causes such as heavy rainfall, earthquakes, snowmelting, and undercutting of slopes due to flooding.
  • They are extremely hazardous, posing a threat to human and animal lives, damaging property, roads, and bridges, disrupting communication lines, and snapping power lines.
  • Landslides are broadly classified based on the type of materials involved, the type of movement of the material, and the type of flow of the material.

Why do they occur?

  • Landslides are natural disasters that occur mainly in mountainous terrains due to conducive conditions of soil, rock, geology, and slope.
  • Heavy rainfall, earthquakes, snow-melting, and undercutting of slopes due to flooding can trigger landslides.
  • Anthropogenic activities such as excavation, cutting of hills and trees, excessive infrastructure development, and overgrazing by cattle can also cause landslides.

Factors contributing

  • The main factors that influence landslides include lithology, geological structures like faults, hill slopes, drainage, geomorphology, land use and land cover, soil texture and depth, and weathering of rocks.
  • Rainfall variability pattern is the single biggest cause for landslides in India, with the Himalayas and the Western Ghats remaining highly vulnerable.

India’s vulnerability to landslides

  • India is considered among the top five landslide-prone countries globally, where at least one death per 100 sq. km is reported in a year due to a landslide event.
  • Approximately 12.6% of the country’s geographical land area (0.42 million sq km) is prone to landslides, with 66.5% of landslides reported from the North-western Himalayas, 18.8% from the North-eastern Himalayas, and 14.7% from the Western Ghats.

Risks in specific states          

  • Mizoram recorded the highest number of landslide events in the past 25 years, with 12,385 events, of which 8,926 were recorded in 2017 alone.
  • Nagaland and Manipur also reported a high number of landslide events during the 2017 monsoon season.
  • Uttarakhand and Kerala reported the highest number of landslides, with Uttarakhand experiencing 11,219 events since 1998, and Kerala making inhabitants significantly vulnerable to fatalities, despite fewer events.

Classification and Mapping of Landslides

  • Landslides are broadly classified based on the type of materials involved, type of movement, type of flow of the material, and whether they spread laterally.
  • The Landslide Atlas of India maps landslides mainly based on events and seasons.
  • The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) used a landslide database created from 1998 to 2022 using aerial and high-resolution satellite images.


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

Policy: Making India Earthquake Prepared


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Earthquakes, India's earthquake prone regions

Mains level : India's policy on Earthquake preparedness


Central Idea

  • The destruction caused by earthquakes in Turkey should be alarming for India. Over the last three weeks, tremors have been felt in Himalayan states. Moreover, geologists have warned of a probable massive earthquake in the Himalayan state. In this context the Delhi High Court asked the state government to file a status report and action plan on the structural safety of buildings in Delhi. Nearly 58 per cent of the Indian landmass is vulnerable to earthquakes and the concerns that have been raised by the court need a policy response instead.

Get your Rs 10,000 worth of UPSC Strategic Package for FREE | PDFs, Zoom session, Tests, & Mentorship

How do earthquakes happen?

  • According to the theory of plate tectonics, the Earth’s crust and upper mantle are made of large rigid plates that can move relative to one another.
  • Slip on faults near the plate boundaries can result in earthquakes.
  • The point inside the Earth where the earthquake rupture starts is called the focus or hypocentre.
  • The point directly above it on the surface of the Earth is the epicentre.

What is missing in India’s policy on earthquake preparedness?

  • Current policy operates primarily at the scale of structural details: Guided by the National Building Codes, this includes specifying dimensions of the structural members columns, beams, etc. and details of the reinforcements that join these elements together.
  • While scientifically sound, this view on earthquake preparedness is myopic:
  1. It ignores the buildings that were constructed before such codes were published in 1962. Such buildings form a large part of our cities.
  2. It assumes infallibility in the processes of enforcement, relying only on penalisation and illegalities.
  3. It treats earthquakes as a problem of individual buildings, as if they exist and behave in complete isolation from their urban context.

What needs to be done?

  • Preparedness at Building and City Scale through policy: Earthquake preparedness, therefore, needs to act at the scale of building details as well as that of cities. Moreover, we must think about it in the realm of policy and not just legal enforcement.
  • Need for Comprehensive Policy: At the scale of building details, we need to create a system of retrofitting existing structures and enforcing seismic codes with more efficiency. While there has been political talk and piecemeal efforts towards retrofitting, we still lack a comprehensive policy.

A policy should include two measures

  1. Retrofitting Buildings to Seismic Codes:
  • To create a system of tax-based or development rights-based incentives for retrofitting one’s building up to seismic codes.
  • Such a system of incentives will enable the growth of an industry around retrofitting and will generate a body of well-trained professionals and competent organisations.
  1. Improving Seismic Code Enforcement:
  • By ensuring better enforcement of seismic codes through a similar model. A step forward in this direction was the National Retrofitting Programme launched in 2014.
  • Under the programme, the Reserve Bank of India directed banks to deny loans for any building activity that does not meet the standards of earthquake-resistant design.

Case study: Japan

  • Japan has invested heavily in technological measures to mitigate the damage from the frequent earthquakes that it experiences.
  • Skyscrapers are built with counterweights and other high-tech provisions to minimise the impact of tremors.
  • Small houses are built on flexible foundations and public infrastructure is integrated with automated triggers that cut power, gas, and water lines during earthquakes.
  • All of this has been a result of cultivating an industry around earthquake mitigation and fostering expertise.

Criteria for an urban-level policy to generate earthquake vulnerability maps

  1. The percentage of vulnerable structures in the area;
  2. The availability of evacuation routes and distances from the nearest open ground;
  3. Density of the urban fabric;
  4. Location of nearest relief services and the efficiency with which these services can reach affected sites.
  • For example: Flood zone mapping is a good example of such an exercise that has proven to be successful in terms of timely evacuation and efficient implementation.


  • Governments and policymakers ought to know better than act in a piecemeal manner. Programmes like the ongoing Urban 20 meetings are an excellent opportunity for international knowledge exchange on earthquake preparedness. The Delhi High Court’s directions must act as a reminder for the inclusion of an earthquake preparedness policy in urban renewal programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission. A policy on earthquake preparedness requires a visionary, radical and transformative approach.

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

Turkey hit by series of powerful Earthquakes: The science behind it


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Earthquakes, Tectonic Plates

Mains level : Read the attached story


More than 4000 people died and several hundred were injured after a major earthquake of magnitude 7.8 hit south-central Turkey and Northwest Syria.

What is an Earthquake?

  • An earthquake is an intense shaking of the ground caused by movement under the earth’s surface.
  • It happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another.
  • This releases stored-up ‘elastic strain’ energy in the form of seismic waves, which spreads through the earth and cause the shaking of the ground.

What exactly causes Earthquakes?

  • As we know, the earth’s outermost surface, crust, is fragmented into tectonic plates.
  • The edges of the plates are called plate boundaries, which are made up of faults.
  • The tectonic plates constantly move at a slow pace, sliding past one another and bumping into each other.
  • As the edges of the plates are quite rough, they get stuck with one another while the rest of the plate keeps moving.
  • Earthquake occurs when the plate has moved far enough and the edges unstick on one of the faults.
  • The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicentre.

How prone is Turkey to Earthquakes?

  • Turkey and Syria lie in a seismically active region
  • The region where the earthquake has struck lies along a well-known seismic fault line called the Anatolia tectonic block that runs through northern, central, and eastern Turkey.
  • It is a seismically active zone — though not as active as, say, the Himalayan region which is one of the most dangerous regions in the world from the perspective of earthquakes.

What makes Turkey a hotbed of seismic activity?


  • Turkey is frequently shaken by earthquakes. In 2020 itself, it recorded almost 33,000 earthquakes in the region.
  • Turkey is located on the Anatolian tectonic plate, which is wedged between the Eurasian and African plates.
  • On the north side, the minor Arabian plate further restricts movement.
  • One fault line — the North Anatolian fault (NAF) line, the meeting point of the Eurasian and Anatolian tectonic plates — is known to be “particularly devastating”.
  • Then there is the East Anatolian fault line, the tectonic boundary between the Anatolian Plate and the northward-moving Arabian Plate.
  • It runs 650 kilometers from eastern Turkey and into the Mediterranean.
  • In addition to this, the Aegean Sea Plate, located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea under southern Greece and western Turkey, is also a source of seismic activity in the region.

Where was the earthquake epicentered?

  • The centre of the earthquake was centred about 33 km from Gaziantep, around 18 km deep.
  • Its effect was felt across West Asia, Northern Africa and South Eastern Europe with residents of Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Egypt also reporting tremors.

Aftermath: Many Aftershocks hits the region

  • Aftershocks are a sequence of earthquakes that happen after a larger mainshock on a fault.
  • Aftershocks occur near the fault zone where the mainshock rupture occurred and are part of the “readjustment process” after the main slip on the fault.
  • While they become less frequent with time, although they can continue for days, weeks, months, or even years for a very large mainshock.

Can earthquakes be predicted?

  • An accurate prediction of an earthquake requires some sort of a precursory signal from within the earth that indicates a big quake is on the way.
  • Moreover, the signal must occur only before large earthquakes so that it doesn’t indicate every small movement within the earth’s surface.
  • Currently, there is no equipment to find such precursors, even if they exist.

India offers assistance

  • India is among the 45 countries, which have so far offered assistance to Turkey.
  • It’s sending search and rescue teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and medical teams along with relief material to the West Asian nation.


Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

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

EIA must before allowing urban development projects: SC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EIA

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Supreme Court has urged legislators and policy experts to ensure that Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies are done before giving the green signal for urban development projects in India’s cities.

What is the news?

  • The Supreme Court how haphazard urban development has ruined the ‘Garden City’ of Bengaluru as witnessed during a major spell of rain in September 2022.
  • The court said that the city struggled for drinking water while it lay submerged after the downpour.

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) defines it as,

a formal process to predict the environmental consequences of human development activities and to plan appropriate measures to eliminate or reduce adverse effects and to augment positive effects.

  • Thus, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an integral part of Environmental Management. It investigates likely impacts, both positive and negative, of development projects on the surrounding environment.
  • Simply put, EIA is a detailed study regarding the impacts of any project on the environment. It serves as a decision-making tool which helps policy makers approve, reject or find an alternative to a project


In India, Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is notified under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

Evolution of EIA 

  • The origin of EIA lies in the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act(NEPA) in the year 1969 in the USA. It not only introduced the concept of environmental impact assessment but also made it necessary for federal agencies to evaluate impact of environmental decisions.
  • Environment Impact Assessment gained popularity after the introduction of the concept of sustainable developmentvia World Commission on Environment 1987 & United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Summit) in 1992. It led to adoption of EIA in many countries as well. Principle 17 of the Rio Summit states that,
  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA), as a national instrument, shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority[Given just for your info. No need to remember this type of complex language.Instead, you can mention that EIA is mentioned explicitly under Principle 17 of the Rio declaration of 1992].
  • In 1976-77, EIA was started in India, when the Department of Science and Technology was asked by Planning Commission to examine the river-valley projects from the environmental angle.
  • Eventually n 1994, EIA was made mandatory in India under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. Until then, environmental clearance from the Central Government was an administrative decision and had no legislative backing.
  • Since then, EIA has been amended several times. The most significant amendment was made in 2006

EIA Process

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process can vary depending on a country’s policy and requirement. However, EIA process in most countries, including India, have the following steps:

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping
  3. Collection of baseline data
  4. Impact Prediction
  5. Assessment of alternatives, mitigation measures & Environmental, Impact Assessment Report
  6. Public Hearing
  7. Decision Making
  8. Monitoring the clearance conditions

Screening: This is the first step in the EIA process. At this stage it is decided whether the proposed project needs an EIA and if so to what detail. Screening criteria are based upon:

  • Scales of investment
  • Type of development
  • Location of development

Scoping: It is the most significant step in the entire EIA process as key environmental issues involved are identified at this stage.

  • Scoping has to be done by consultants in consultation with the project proponent and guidance, if needed, from Impact Assessment Agency
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests has published sector-wise guidelines which outline the significant issues which have to be addressed while conducting the EIA studies.
  • At the end of scoping, detailed terms of reference (TOR) are prepared of EIA.
  • TOR is a written document containing written requirements governing EIA implementation, consultations to be held, data to be gathered, methodology to be used etc

Involved in Environmental Impact Assessment

Collection of baseline data: It describes the existing environmental status of the identified study area. The site-specific primary data is monitored and supplemented with secondary data

Impact prediction: Under this, possible effects on the physical, biological, social and economic conditions are taken into consideration and measures are suggested to prevent, reduce or compensate for the impacts.

For example:

  • Impact of biological diversity in an area ex. EIA done by Gadgil panel on the western ghats regions.
  • Impact on habitat because of deforestation and pollution- Impact on Himalayan ecosystem when hydropower projects are opened.
  • Impact on endangered animals and migratory paths. For ex Great India hornbill’s trail in India is evaluated so as to see that such developmental project is not affecting its pathway.
  • The predictions of impact can never be absolute and certain and thus there is a need to comprehensively consider all factors and take all possible precautions for reducing the degree of uncertainty.

Assessment of alternatives, mitigation measures & Environmental Impact Assessment Report: Identification of alternatives and their comparison: For every project, possible alternatives are to be identified and environmental impacts and benefits to be compared.

  • Alternatives should then be ranked for selection of the best environmental option for optimum economic benefits to the community at large.
  • Environment Management Plan (EMP): Once alternatives have been reviewed, an impact mitigation plan is drawn up for the selected option and is supplemented with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide the proponent towards environmental improvements. EMP is a crucial input to monitoring the clearance conditions and therefore details of monitoring should be included in it.
  • EMP is a site-specific plan developed to ensure that the project is implemented in an environmentally sustainable manner where all contractors and subcontractors, including consultants understand the potential environmental risks arising from the project and take appropriate actions to properly manage that risk.
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report prepared at this stage should provide clear information to the decision maker on the different environmental scenarios without the project, with the project and with project alternatives.

Public Hearing: Public must be informed and consulted on a proposed development after the completion of EIA report

  • Gram Sabha must be consulted before the project starts. Gram Sabha means the electorate (people eligible to vote) of the region

Decision-making: It involves consultations between the project proponent (assisted by a consultant) and the impact assessment authority (assisted by an expert group if necessary). Final decision regarding the project is taken, keeping in mind EIA and EMP (Environment Management Plan).

Monitoring: Monitoring should be done during both construction and operation phases of a project. This is not only to ensure that the commitments made are complied with but also to observe whether the predictions made in the EIA reports were correct or not.

  • Where the impacts exceed the predicted levels, corrective action should be taken.
  • Monitoring enables the regulatory agency to review the validity of predictions and the conditions of implementation of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).

Objective of EIA

  • To bring out a national policy to encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and environment.
  • To promote efforts to prevent or eliminate damage to the environment.
  • To increase understanding of ecological systems and natural resources important to the nation

Why we need Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)? / Significance of EIA / Benefits of EIA

  • Facilitates sustainable development: In present times anthropogenic activities like rapid industrialization, mass production and clearing of forests have created immense pressure on the natural environment. Tools like EIA help in balancing the need for economic growth with equally important concept of sustainability.
  • Mitigating negative impacts & informed decision-making– Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) helps in minimizing the negative impact of various development projects. It enables monitoring programmes to be established to assess future impacts and provide data on which managers can take informed decisions to avoid environmental damage.
  • Aids cost-effectiveness– EIA helps in selection and design of projects, programmes or plans with long term viability and therefore improves cost effectiveness.
  • Advance assessments also helps avoid future losses that may be incurred if the project is found environmentally unacceptable at a later stage. Cost of adaptation when a project is already running is usually more.

Thus, EIA as a tool aims to minimize the environmental impacts emanating out of any economic activity that have the potential to cause environmental degradation.

Environmental Components

Rapid EIA vs Comprehensive EIA

The difference is in the time scale of the data supplied. But both types require complete coverage of all EIA procedures

  • Rapid EIA: Under Rapid EIA data supplied is of only one season(other than monsoon) to reduce the time required. Rapid EIA is for speedier appraisal process.
  • Comprehensive EIA: It collects data from all four seasons.Rapid EIA is acceptable if it does not compromise upon the quality of decision making. The review of Rapid EIA submissions will show whether a comprehensive EIA is warranted or not. Therefore, submission of comprehensive EIA in the first stance would generally be more efficient approach. Comprehensive EIA includes appraisal of those projects whose analysis in not to be done soon, here time is not the essential factor but the quality of the appraisal is.

EIA notifications

Central govt has the power to issue EIA notifications under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, wherein it can impose restrictions on setting up new projects or expansion or modernisation of existing projects. The section stipulates that such measures must benefit the environment.

Under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, first EIA notification was issued in 1994. Later, it was replaced by a modified draft in 2006

Salient Features of EIA rules Amendment done in 2006 

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006 decentralized the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories i.e., Category Aand Category B

Salient features of EIA

After 2006 Amendment, EIA comprises of four cycles:

  • Screening
  • Scoping
  • Public Hearing
  • Appraisal
  • State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) are constituted to provide clearance to category B projects.
  • Category A Projects require mandatory environmental clearance. Screening process is not required.
  • Category B projects undergo screening process. They are classified in two types:
  • Category B1 Projects: Mandatorily require EIA
  • Category B2 Projects: Do not require EIA


  • Category Aprojects and category B1 projects undergo the complete EIA process
  • Category B2projects are excluded from complete EIA process

This 2006 EIA notification has undergone several amendments over last 14 years. A new draft EIA Notification 2020 has been floated by the govt. It is meant to incorporate the amendments and court orders issued since 2006.

Major Provisions of draft EIA notification 2020

  • Public Consultation 
  • Period of public consultation hearings is proposed to be reduced to a maximum of 40 days.
  • Time provided for the public to submit their responses is proposed to be reduced from present 30 to 20 days.
  • Rationale by the govt: the shorter window was “in tune with the times”, given the growth of internet and mobile telephony.
  • Concern: Several environmental activists and organisations have instead argued that even the 30-day timeframe was inadequate as information failed to reach the stakeholders residing in remote and inaccessible terrains
  • More discretionary powers to government
  • Central government can declare “economically sensitive areas” without public hearing or environmental clearance
  • Government also gets to decide which projects are to be considered “strategic”.
  • Post-facto clearance: Legalisation of projects that have commenced operations without obtaining necessary clearances; subject to a payment of penalty.

Supreme court’s view on postfacto clearance –

  • In a judgment in early 2020, in the case of Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd vs Rohit Prajapati,the Supreme Court by also referring to Common Cause vs. Union of India judgment, struck down and condemned ex-post facto environmental clearance (a concept which the new draft EIA proposes to regularise).
  • In 2013, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Association for Environmental Protection vs State of Kerala, held that commencement of projects without obtaining prior EC (environmental clearance) is a violation of the fundamental right to lifeguaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution


  • Post-clearance compliance: Post-clearance compliance implies that once a project gets approved by the concerned authority, the proponent projects are required to adhere to certain rules laid down in the EIA report in order to ensure that no further environmental damages take place.
  • The new draft EIA, contrary to the 2006 notification — which required submission of the compliance report every six months, proposes annual reports. 
  • Concern: Environmental experts are of the view that allowing a longer period for filling the compliance report will give an opportunity to project proponents to hide disastrous consequences, which could go unnoticed


  • Exemption clause: It identifies a long list of projects like roads and pipelines in border areas which have been exempted from public consultation and prior clearance.
  • Concern: Analysts note that by this provision, the government shall have discretion to designate any project as being of strategic importance. Activists in states with crucial resources like uranium, as in Meghalaya, have also opposed this provision


  • Baseline Data: Does away with the need to carry out studies covering all seasons in a year

In the 2019 ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report by the World Bank, India rose steadily from 142nd ranking in 2014 to 63rd ranking in 2019. India, however, has steadily declined on Environment Performance Index, from 141st rank in 2016 to 168th rank out of 180 countries in 2020.

The government has assured that it will strive to strike a balance between the environmental and developmental concerns. As and when the EIA is finalised, it is expected to incorporate the perspectives of multiple stakeholders in a balanced manner.

Shortcomings of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process

Applicability: There are several projects with environmental impacts that are exempted from the notifications. Ex. Low scale sand mining

Inadequate capacity of EIA approval authorities: Lack of technical and environmental experts, anthropologists and social scientists among the members and involvement of crony capitalism and nexus between corporates and politicians leads to faulty decision making, where projects which severe harm the environment may also get approved.

Deficiencies in screening, scoping and impact analysis: There are no independent bodies and no standardized formats for project evaluation.

  • Absence of standardized baseline data brings arbitrariness in impact prediction.
  • It is allegedly done by those people which are on the payroll of company which creates a conflict of interest. They intentionally exclude negative impact on forests/ environment and impact on tribes during the scoping process

Poor quality EIA reports: EIA is presently used as a project justification tool rather than as a project planning tool to contribute to achieving sustainable development. Involvement of planning for future activities should also be focused upon along with the justification of the project itself.

  • EIA is not just a tool to describe YES or NO regarding a project but also about how the harm, if any, to the environment can be minimized, so as to be pollution-neutral and environmentally sustainable.

Initiated at a later stage: Another flaw in the EIA process in India is that it is undertaken at a much later stage, especially after the project has been designed, approved and almost ready for construction. Thus, by the time EIA starts huge costs are incurred and the project becomes too big to fall.

Inadequate public participation: In many countries like Nepal, Argentina and Australia, public involvement is mandatory at various stages of the EIA process (i.e., screening, scoping, report preparation and decision making), but in India public consultation occurs only once during the entire process. According to the EIA notification 2006, this public consultation is performed in two ways.

  • First, written comments are sought on draft EIA report from stakeholders
  • Second, public hearing is conducted at or near the proposed project site.

Drawbacks of this system:

  • Public consultation is done after the preparation of draft EIA reportand when it is ready for final submission to the expert committee.
  • Also, the notification issued for public hearing are not published in local vernacular languagesthus keeping it out of the scope of understanding of locals.

Weak monitoring: Monitoring is not done through an independent agency. Environment management plans of strategic industries like nuclear energy are not put into the public domain.

How can we strengthen the EIA process?

1.Independent Agency: Entire EIA process right from screening to monitoring should be done by independent agencies and establishing a National Accreditation Body for agencies carrying out EIA.

  • Creation of centralized baseline data bank

2.Applying Precautionary Principle: This principle states that if there is a threat of serious damage (in this case, to the environment) from a particular action then a lack of scientific certainty should not be used to avoid taking steps to prevent that damage. Hence, the list of concerns raised by the public should be studied in detail to arrive at any conclusion. Ex. GM crops.

  • Clearances given to project that is not clearly justified becomes questionable as happened in Sethusamudram Project

3.Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA): It helps in choosing a project and not just evaluate it. It offers alternatives and guides project financing. The directives of SEA are reflected in the National Environment Policy 2006. Similarly, Nepal also carries out SEA’s.

  • A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental implications of a proposed policyplanor programme

4.Robust and Inclusive public hearing: A key role for local people through Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) at every stage. Special focus on forests and tribal. The traditional knowledge of locals needs to be incorporated.

5.Transparency: Greater transparency in the clearance process and dissemination of all documents for public scrutiny.

6.Capacity Building: NGO’s, civil society groups and local communities need to build their capacities to use the EIA notification towards better decision-making on projects that can impact their local environments and livelihoods. Capacities can be built to proactively and effectively use the notification rather than respond in a manner that is seen as negative or unproductive.

Way forward

In a world that is challenged by environmental degradation and social conflicts, scholars have upheld public and local participation to be a “threshold condition” for development. EIA provides this necessary element in the economic development process. Therefore, EIA-based approvals for most projects should mandatorily and necessarily involve the process of conducting public hearings so that the views and opinions of people who are likely to be affected can be taken on board before a decision to approve the project is made so as to reduce future scope of resentment.


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

Disasters at Himalayan Region (Uttarakhand)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Land Subsidence

Mains level : Reasons for disasters at Himalaya



  • Disasters have become commonplace in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, the most recent one being the sinking of Joshimath. Although climate change has triggered these events, the most important underlying factors are poor planning and a lack of vision.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

Recent disasters on Himalaya

  • Kedarnath floods: Nature has given enough warnings of the dangers in the Himalayas. The 2013 Kedarnath floods took more than 5,000 lives, according to official records.
  • Nepal earthquake: The 2015 Gurkha Earthquake in Nepal killed as many as 8000 individuals.
  • Floods in Pakistan: The recent floods in Pakistan left millions of people homeless and devastated.
  • Sinking of Joshimath: The ‘Joshimath sinking’ phenomenon has received national and global attention. However, other cities and towns across Uttarakhand are also on the brink of collapse. Joshimath is the first one to succumb to human pressures, thankfully without causing any damage to human lives.

Reasons for disasters at Himalaya (Uttarakhand)

  • Construction in Prohibited areas: The geological fragility of Uttarakhand is part of scientific and popular knowledge. Government policies and bylaws prohibit people from constructing houses on vulnerable slopes.
  • Mindless decision making: With increasing access to internet facilities, almost everyone can find information. Yet one is compelled to ask about the role technological advancement and information abundance have played in environmental decision-making as mindless construction over vulnerable slopes continues uninhibited.
  • Ignorance by bureaucrats: The technicalities of science and academic jargon are complex for bureaucrats to understand and laypersons and bureaucratic mindsets only engage with the research community for obligatory and cosmetic purposes.

Infrastructure of mountainous area and plain area

  • Normal construction methods for fragile ecology: We have continued to borrow practices from elsewhere for implementation on the delicate eco-geological systems of the Himalayas.
  • Gurugramisation of Uttarakhand: Gurugram’s infrastructure development took a toll on Gurugram itself. For the Himalayas, Gurugram-style development is enormously devastating. The “Gurugramisation” of Uttarakhand needs to stop.
  • Disregards to laws and regulations: The divide between science–policy, and people, has promoted disconnected decision-making and encouraged individuals to casually flout bylaws and regulatory policies. A common Uttarakhandi is forced to live a life full of uncertainty and fear.

Case study of Nainital

  • Vulnerable to landslides: Nainital, one of the most vulnerable cities in the entire Himalayan region. The Nainital lake is situated over an active Faultline and surrounded by slopes vulnerable to landslides.
  • Earthquake prone area: It falls under a high earthquake-prone zone (Zone IV). Since its settlement in 1841 small and big landslides continue to threaten the city. The most devastating of them was the 1880 landslide that took 151 human lives.
  • Construction on vulnerable slopes: Despite having robust scientific evidence, building bylaws, and an aware citizenry, the brutal assaults on the biophysical environment of the city are ongoing. The slope that collapsed in 1880 (less than a fraction of a second earlier on a geological time scale) is now inhabited by more than 15,000 individuals.
  • Ground water exploitation: In 2017, the Nainital lake level plummeted 18 feet due to the excessive withdrawal of water from the lake bed to meet local and unprecedented tourism needs. Such a decline was never experienced in the past.
  • Mindless tourism activities: The biggest threat to Nainital is the crumbling “Balianala”. To make matters worse, construction work over the most important recharge area of the Nainital lake “Sukhatal” is underway. The intention is to enhance tourism-related activity. But the question is, does a city that receives more than 10,000 tourists and 2,000 vehicles on a daily basis in the summer months and weekends need more tourism?



  • The carrying capacity of the cities in Himalayas has been exhausted. The natural infrastructure is fatigued and dangers of a possible collapse are visible to the human eye. Government must the amend and implement the construction laws and regulations for sustainability of Himalayas.

Mains Question

Q. What are the reasons for recent sinking in Joshi math? Illustrate the vulnerability of Himalayas using the case study.

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

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

In news: Bhopal Gas Leak Tragedy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MIC

Mains level : Bhopal Gas Tragedy


The Supreme Court has grilled the Centre on how the settlement can be reopened, when Union Carbide has already paid over $ 470 million to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, and also expressed concern over Rs 50 crore undisbursed funds.

Why in news?

  • Union Carbide, now a part of Dow Jones – has not fulfilled its responsibility in terms of providing just compensation.
  • Around 19 years after compensation was agreed upon, the Indian government filed a curative petition in 2010 to seek additional compensation from Dow, of more than ten times the amount it gave in 1989.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

  • On the night of December 2, 1984, one of the biggest industrial disasters to ever take place began unfolding in Bhopal.
  • Harmful Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas started leaking from a nearby Union Carbide pesticide plant, eventually resulting in the Bhopal Gas tragedy.
  • An estimated 3,000 people died within the first few days.
  • Over time, similarly horrifying numbers of those who suffered life-long health issues would become known.

Health hazards of the disaster

  • Its effects were such that apart from killing thousands of people in a short span of time, it led to disease and other long-term problems for many who inhaled the gas.
  • The sources of water around the factory were deemed unfit for consumption and many handpumps were sealed.
  • To date, the reproductive health of many of Bhopal’s women has been affected.
  • Children born to those exposed to the gas have faced congenital health problems.

How did govt respond to the disaster?

The incident pointed to the lack of specific laws in India at the time for handling such matters.  This changed after Bhopal.

  • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986: It authorised the central government to take relevant measures and regulate industrial activity for environmental and public safety.
  • Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991: It was also passed to provide public liability insurance for providing immediate relief to the persons affected by an accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance.


Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

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

What is Joshimath Crisis?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Land Subsidence

Mains level : Read the attached story


Many families living in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath has shifted to safe places after their homes developed deep cracks, leaving them in a panicked state.

Joshimath Crisis

  • Joshimath lies on an ancient landslide, resting on a deposit of sand and stone, not rock.
  • The rivers Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga play their part in triggering landslides, by eroding the river banks and mountain edges.
  • It is believed that increased construction activity and growing population have contributed to frequent landslides in the area, the 1976 Mishra Committee Report had pointed out.

What is Land Subsidence?

  • Land subsidence is when the ground sinks or settles.
  • It can happen because people are taking too much water or minerals from the ground, which causes the ground to sink.
  • It can also be caused by natural processes, like soil compaction or the movement of the earth’s crust.
  • Land subsidence can cause problems like damage to buildings and roads, and can make it more likely for flooding to occur.

Why is it sinking?

  • Joshimath is a deposit of sand and stone — it is not the main rock — hence it was not suitable for a township.
  • Vibrations produced by blasting, heavy traffic, etc. has led to a disequilibrium in natural factors.
  • Lack of proper drainage facilities also leads to landslides.
  • A lot of water has been percolating down into the porous crystalline rocks beneath the surface, softening them further.
  • When water is not allowed to flow down its natural course, it creates a lot of pressure, either over the ground, or underneath.
  • The existence of soak pits, which allow water to slowly soak into the ground, is responsible for the creation of cavities between the soil and the boulders.
  • This leads to water seepage and soil erosion.

Issues with Joshimath’s town-planning

  • Overt tourism: The place is now the hub of tourists headed to at least three important shrines — Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib and Shankaracharya temple — as a result of which major infrastructure development has taken place.
  • Ignoring topography: There are lots of loose soft rocks, moraine (material left behind by retreating glaciers), and sediments. The soil is, therefore, not ideal for large constructions.
  • Seismically active area: Added to this is the fact that the area falls in a highly seismic zone, and experiences regular tremors, making the top soil unstable.

Preventing a disaster

1976 Mishra Committee Report suggested-

  • Imposition of restrictions on heavy construction: Construction should only be allowed after examining the load-bearing capacity of the soil and the stability of the site, and restrictions should also be imposed on the excavation of slopes.
  • Keeping the boulders: In the landslide areas, stones and boulders should not be removed from the bottom of the hill as it would remove toe support, increasing the possibility of landslides.
  • Sealing of cracks: Cracks which have developed on the slopes should be sealed. The toe of a landslide is its bottom-most point.
  • Conserving of trees: It has also advised against cutting trees in the landslide zone, and said that extensive plantation work should be undertaken in the area, particularly between Marwari and Joshimath, to conserve soil and water resources.
  • Agriculture on the slopes must be avoided: Activities like ploughing loosens the soil thereby triggering the scope for landslides.
  • Preventing water seepage: To prevent any more landslides in the future, the seepage of open rain water must be stopped by the construction of a pucca drainage system.
  • Cobbled roads: Roads should be metalled and without scuppers, that drain away the water from the road surface.
  • River training: The construction of structures to guide the river’s flow should be carried out. Hanging boulders on the foothills should be provided with appropriate support.

Way forward

  • Ensuring safety of people: This should be immediate priority. State government should establish a clear and continuous communication channel with the affected people.
  • Time-bound reconstruction plan must be prepared.
  • Continuous seismic monitoring must be done.
  • A risk sensitive urban development plan for Joshimath should also be developed.


Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

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

What is Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PDNA

Mains level : Not Much


Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) is now being done simultaneously in Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and Meghalaya.

Why in news?

  • PDNA is now being used to evaluate the financial and social cost of local disasters in eight states in India.
  • These states all experienced severe flooding in the last few months.
  • The results of these assessments are likely to come out next month.

What is PDNA?

  • PDNA is an internationally accepted methodology for determining the physical damages, economic losses, and costs of meeting recovery needs after a natural disaster through a government-led process.
  • It is an international framework for assessing losses and damages in the aftermath of a disaster.
  • The framework helps get recovery and reconstruction efforts right following a disaster.
  • Globally, of the 55 PDNAs conducted worldwide since 2008, only two droughts — one in Malawi and the other Marshall Islands in 2016 — were of slow-onset disasters.

Components of PDNA

  • PDNA includes a calculation of the disaster’s impact on Gross Domestic Product, the balance of payment and fiscal budget.
  • Secondly, how this affects the flow of revenue to multiple sectors is evaluated.
  • For example, the number of farmers’ income affected per damaged acre of land and the livelihoods lost.
  • Overall, a quantitative assessment is additionally done on the social and environmental impact of the disaster.

History of PDNA in India

  • This is not the first time PDNA has been conducted in India.
  • It was first adopted during the Kerala floods of 2018 and again during the cyclone in Odisha in 2019, both unprecedented disasters.
  • Until now, the assessment was only limited to massive disasters that required international funding from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations.

15th Finance Commission provision

  • The 15th finance commission report of 2021, for the first time, made a provision for recovery and reconstruction in the national disaster management budget, which is at the core of the PDNA.
  • The states did not receive international funding to do the current ongoing PDNAs, as they are expected to take the money from the budget.


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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

Urban Challenge, Problems and Solutions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Urab floods,Urban challenges and solutions



  • After flooding of major metropolitan cities of Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Delhi following heavy rainfall, the Centre has pointed to two cities – Davanagere and Agartala – as successful examples of cities that have curbed urban flooding.

Why cities are  so important in India?

  • Driveres of Growth: Urbanisation has played and will continue to play a critical role in India’s growth story in the 21st century.
  • Cities are seen as GDP multipliers: By some estimates, Indian cities already contribute up to 70% of the country’s GDP. Yet, depending on which official estimates you use, India is just 26% or 31% urban. But there is growing evidence that India is more urban than is officially recognised.
  • Cities have more productivity: Well-functioning and diverse cities allow for the sharing and cross-pollination of ideas, which in turn drive greater productivity.


What are the Urban challenges?

  • Lack of Planning: current urban planning policies and practice have led to suboptimal use of land in Indian cities. This has multiple consequences. There is not enough floor space for accommodating migrants in search of economic opportunities; they make space for themselves in informal settlements. There is also not enough land in the public domain for developing adequate open spaces or augmenting infrastructure capacities.
  • Lack of Housing:The pandemic revealed that the cities’ economies rely on migrant populations in the formal and informal sectors. Workers in both markets move from rural to urban and urban to urban areas as they find better opportunities; they are mobile and need adequate rental options. Today, in most Indian cities, this demand is not met and leads to unaffordable options, pushing the poorer sections out to slums and other informal settlements.
  • Lack of Transport: Indian cities are infamous for their road congestion; three of them rank in the 10 most congested in the world according to the 2020 TomTom Travel Index with Mumbai ranking second. The existing public transportation systems are already overcrowded and of poor quality.
  • Lack of Public health: Like other health crises, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need to ensure adequate healthcare services and sanitation infrastructure for a healthy population in cities. In the initial months of the outbreak, the focus of health services shifted entirely towards addressing the novel coronavirus, leaving other health issues unaddressed and shutting down routine care services.
  • Impact on Environment: The causes for low air quality are multiple; vehicular movement and on-road congestion are major contributors. A safe and clean environment is key to good public health.
  • Problems faced by vulnerable sections: The economic shock and work from home guidelines changed migration patterns; workers in cities returned to their home towns and villages. Slum dwellers, with limited access to adequate infrastructure, and migrant workers, disenfranchised from social protection systems or daily wagers, were more vulnerable to this shock. In the medium and long term, it is difficult to predict what the job market will be in cities.


What can be done to address the urban challenges?

  • Future planning is necessary: Manage the spatial growth of cities and allow them to build more planned road networks for future horizontal expansion and revoke faulty policies that constrain the use of floor space to build vertically.
  • Housing for all scheme is important: Focus on providing public housing for the poor; India can learn from successful models in Singapore or Hong Kong and understand the strategic challenges of other international examples such as Mexico. India can also work toenable efficient rental markets
  • Holistic transport should be focused: Integrate formal and informal modes of transportation into holistic transportation strategies to ensure seamless mobility, as well as first and last mile connectivity.
  • Increasing funds to Cities: Decentralise fiscal powers to the local level and train city authorities so that they can make more strategic decisions in health expenditures or public health infrastructure, as well as gain the capacity to raise their own resources.
  • Need of a healthy Environment: Increase the number of open spaces in the public domain, maintain them and monitor their use. Prepare for disasters with robust framework of physical infrastructures, road networks and large open spaces. Build adequate infrastructure to support the sustainable development of emerging Tier-2 and Tier 3 towns.
  • More attention to vulnerable: Develop more systematic identification mechanisms of the urban poor to ameliorate the delivery of public services and social protection. Collect accurate data on migrant population and capture their socio-economic diversity to better address their needs. Monitor access to services, housing and jobs of the vulnerable communities in real time.



  • Urban infrastructure is crumbling day by day. In the next 25 years, cities will have more population than rural areas. Indian cities need urgent reform in order to unlock their economic potential and transform quality of life.

Mains Question

Q.Discuss the urban infrastructure challenges? What are the governments scheme and actions to address the urbanization challenges?

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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

Transboundary Flood Disasters


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Transboundary Rivers

Mains level : Disaster Management

Transboundary Flood Disasters


  • Pakistan experiencing devastation, with a spread of diseases and severe shortage of potable water after intense flooding. In June this year Assam experienced one of its worst floods in which it affected over 30 districts. Assam and Bihar frequently suffer from transboundary flood disasters.

What is transboundary flood?

  • Floods that are originate in upper riparian state crosses the international boundary and also affects the lower riparian state. For example, river Brahmaputra causes flood both in China and India simultaneously.

Transboundary Flood DisastersHow the transboundary floods are difficult to manage than normal floods?

  • Flooding is still considered to be a natural phenomenon that cannot be entirely prevented. But it is compounded by the lack of transparency in the sharing of hydrological information and also information relating to activities (such as by one riparian state) that are transboundary in their effect (affecting other riparian states), thus serving as an obstacle in understanding the magnitude of flooding.

Transboundary Flood DisastersWhat is a riparian state?

  • A riparian state is state (or country) located alongside a river.

What are the International laws governing transboundary waters?

There are at two international treaties that governs the transboundary water

  • UNWC:
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Use of International Watercourses (UNWC) 1997.UNWC contains a direct reference to floods, which covers harmful conditions and the emergency situations.
  • Article 27 of the Convention says, Watercourse States shall individually and, where appropriate, jointly, take all appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate conditions that may be harmful to other watercourse States, whether resulting from natural causes or human conduct or desertification.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment:
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in the Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina vs Uruguay) case of 2010, upheld that conducting a transboundary environmental impact assessment (TEIA) of a planned measure or projects on the shared water course is part of customary international law.
  • In fact, the ICJ noted that the acting state must notify the affected party of the results of TEIA for assessment of its own damages that are likely to occur.
  • UNECE: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes 1992 (Water Convention).

Transboundary Flood DisastersHow India manages transboundary flood?

  • Note:Neither India nor China are signatory to UNWC or UNCEC.
  • River Brahmaputra: India has signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China in 2013 with a view to sharing hydrological information during the flood season (June to September). The MoU does not allow India access to urbanisation and deforestation activities on the Chinese side of the river basin.
  • Rivers Gandak and kosi: Floods are also a recurrent problem in the Kosi and Gandak river basins that are shared by India and Nepal.
  • The India-Nepal Kosi agreement 1954: Agreement aimed at reducing devastating flooding in the river basin. The treaty-based joint bodies have also tried to refine the early warning systems for flood forecasting.

What are the suggestions?

  • Signing the treaty: Expert suggests, India by becoming a party to either the UNWC and the Water Convention could lay the groundwork for a bilateral treaty on the Brahmaputra but subject to the reservation that it should not insist on the insertion of a dispute settlement mechanism provision.
  • Information exchange: In contravention of procedural customary international law obligation, India considers data on transboundary rivers as classified information, which is one of the key challenges in developing cross-border flood warning systems. India needs to share the hydrological and river information for its own sake.


  • Climate change has accelerated the frequency and intensity of floods across the world. with Changing climate India should also change its strategy to protect its people, to preserve the soil and to save its resources from the scourge of floods.

Mains Questions

Q.Climate change has created a more difficult challenge in flood management. In this context, what measures can be taken to deal with frequent transboundary floods in India. Discuss.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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

Tigray Crisis in Ethiopia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tigray Crisis

Mains level : Not Much

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), described the Tigray crisis region as the “worst humanitarian disaster on earth”.

What is the news?

  • Ethiopia has been on the brink of a civil war.
  • On Nov 4 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared war on the country’s Tigray region.
  • The Tigray region is ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
  • The war was declared in response to the TPLF’s attack on a federal military base in Tigray.

Tigray Crisis: A backgrounder

  • The animosity between Tigrayans and Eritrea goes back to the Ethiopian-Eritrean war that occurred between 1998 and 2000.
  • It occurred approximately two decades ago was extremely brutal and resulted in the deaths of thousands of soldiers.
  • The roots of this crisis can be traced to Ethiopia’s system of government. Since 1994, Ethiopia has had a federal system in which different ethnic groups control the affairs of 10 regions.
  • The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – was influential in setting up this system.
  • It was the leader of a four-party coalition that governed Ethiopia from 1991, when a military regime was ousted from power.
  • Under the coalition, Ethiopia became more prosperous and stable, but concerns were routinely raised about human rights and the level of democracy.

How did it escalate into a crisis?

  • Eventually, discontent morphed into protest, leading to a government reshuffle that saw Mr Abiy appointed PM.
  • Abiy liberalized politics, set up a new party (the Prosperity Party), and removed key Tigrayan government leaders accused of corruption and repression.
  • Meanwhile, Abiy ended a long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Eritrea, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
  • These moves won Abiy popular acclaim, but caused unease among critics in Tigray.
  • Tigray’s leaders see Abiy’s reforms as an attempt to centralize power and destroy Ethiopia’s federal system.

How bad is the humanitarian situation?

  • Tigray and its neighbouring regions are facing starvation.
  • There is an absence of medical facilities, no access to their own money due to shut-down banking services, ethnic and physical violence, and raids at the hands of warring forces.
  • The government declared a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds but in an effort to break the TPLF in June last year, imposed a blockade on Tigray.
  • This made it impossible to deliver humanitarian, economic, and medical assistance to Tigrayans.

Also read:

[Burning Issue] Ethiopian Crisis and the Geopolitics

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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

What are Tetrapods?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tetrapods

Mains level : Not Much

In Mumbai, the unusual vibrations (like earthquakes), coinciding with high-tide times, were the result of the relocation of tetrapods as part of the ongoing Coastal Road Project (MCRP).

What are tetrapods?

  • Tetra pod in Greek means four-legged.
  • These are four-legged concrete structures that are placed along coastlines to prevent erosion and water damage.
  • Tetrapods were first used in France in the late 1940s to protect the shore from the sea.
  • They are typically placed together to form an interlocking but porous barrier that dissipates the power of waves and currents.
  • These are large structures, sometimes weighing up to 10 tonnes, and interlocked tetra pods act as a barrier that remains stable against the rocks when buffeted by waves.
  • Tetrapods, each weighing about 2 tonnes, were placed along Marine Drive in the late 1990s to break and dissipate waves and maintain the reclaimed shoreline in South Mumbai.

How do we know that the removal of the tetrapods was responsible?

  • The BMC has provided vibration monitoring instruments at the site to study the impact of the phenomenon.
  • While the corporation has not officially stated that the removal of the tetrapods caused the vibrations, it has agreed to re-install the structures.
  • They would be put back over the next two-three days during low tide.


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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

Earthquake in Afghanistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Earthquakes

Mains level : Read the attached story

Recently a powerful earthquake of magnitude 5.9 on the Richter scale struck a remote town in Afghanistan, killing over a thousand and injuring many more.

How do earthquakes happen?

  • According to the theory of plate tectonics, the Earth’s crust and upper mantle are made of large rigid plates that can move relative to one another.
  • Slip on faults near the plate boundaries can result in earthquakes.
  • The point inside the Earth where the earthquake rupture starts is called the focus or hypocentre.
  • The point directly above it on the surface of the Earth is the epicentre.

What are Seismic Waves?

  • Any elastic material when subjected to stress, stretches in a proportional way, until the elastic limit is reached.
  • When the elastic limit is crossed, it breaks.
  • Similarly, the Earth also has an elastic limit and when the stress is higher than this limit, it breaks.
  • Then there is a generation of heat, and energy is released. Since the material is elastic, the energy is released in the form of elastic waves.
  • These propagate to a distance determined by the extent of the impact. These are known as seismic waves.

Why Earthquake in Afghanistan?

  • Afghanistan is earthquake-prone because it’s located in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, which is part of the Alpide belt — the second most seismically active region in the world after the Pacific Ring of Fire.
  • The Alpide belt runs about 15,000 kilometers, from the southern part of Eurasia through the Himalayas and into the Atlantic.
  • Along with the Hindu Kush, it includes a number of mountain ranges, such as the Alps, Atlas Mountains and the Caucasus Mountains.
  • Additionally, the Earth’s crust is especially lively in Afghanistan because it is where the Arabian, Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
  • The boundary between the Indian and Eurasian plates exists near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

How are earthquakes measured?

  • Earthquakes are measured by seismographic networks, which are made of seismic stations, each of which measures the shaking of the ground beneath it.
  • In India, the National Seismological Network does this work.
  • It has a history of about 120 years and its sensors can now detect an earthquake within five to ten minutes.

Issues with Earthquake measurement

  • Everywhere, the wave parameters are measured, not the total energy released.
  • There is a direct relationship between the quantum of energy released and the wave amplitude.
  • The amplitude of the wave is a function of the time period of the wave.
  • It is possible to convert the measured wave amplitude into the energy released for that earthquake.
  • This is what seismologists call the magnitude of the earthquake.

What is the Richter magnitude scale?

  • This is a measure of the magnitude of an earthquake and was first defined by Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology, U.S., in 1935.
  • The magnitude of an earthquake is the logarithm of the amplitude of the waves measured by the seismographs.
  • Richter scale magnitudes are expressed as a whole number and a decimal part, for example 6.3 or 5.2.
  • Since it is a logarithmic scale, an increase of the whole number by one unit signifies a tenfold increase in the amplitude of the wave and a 31-times increase of the energy released.

How are zones designated?

  • Based on seismicity, intensity of earthquakes experienced, and geological and tectonic qualities of a region, countries are divided into several zones.
  • In India, for example, there are four zones, designated Zone II-Zone V. Among these, Zone V is the most hazardous and Zone II the least hazardous.

Can we predict Earthquakes?

  • Since parameters of the earthquake are unknown, it is near impossible to predict an earthquake.
  • The problem with earthquakes is that they are heavily dependent on the material property, which varies from place to place.
  • If there are elastic waves propagating through a material, there are two kinds of waves — the primary wave which reaches first, and the second one called the secondary wave, which is more destructive.
  • If it is known that the amount of energy released is extremely high, trains and power grids can be shut down and the damage minimised.
  • This has worked in some locations, but not on a large commercial basis.

Successful attempts made so far

  • The most successful early warning systems are in Japan.
  • They have several hundreds of thousands recording devices.
  • Responses are sent to a central point where they estimate whether it is large enough to form a tsunami or some other hazard, and precautionary steps are taken.


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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 : Disaster management

The Union Cabinet has approved the categorization of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as an ‘International Organization’.

What is the news?

  • The cabinet also signed as the Headquarters Agreement (HQA) with CDRI for granting it the exemptions, immunities and privileges as contemplated under the United Nations (Privileges & Immunities) Act, 1947.
  • This will provide CDRI an independent and international legal persona so that it can efficiently and effectively carry out its functions internationally.

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.

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.

Why designated as International Organization?

  • Deputing experts to other countries
  • Deploying funds globally and receive contributions from member countries
  • Making available technical expertise to assist countries
  • Imparting assistance to countries in adopting appropriate risk governance arrangements and strategies for resilient infrastructure
  • Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Leveraging international engagement to foster disaster-resilient infrastructure at home; and,
  • Providing Indian scientific and technical institution as well as infrastructure developers an opportunity to interact with global experts.

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


Post your answers here.
Please leave a feedback on thisx


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

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.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.