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

Sep, 06, 2019

Explained: Mapping lightning across India


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

About the report

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

What has the report found?

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

Why are these findings important?

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



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

Mechanism of formation

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

How does it strike Earth?

  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity. While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud.
  • As a result, an estimated 20-25 per cent of the current flow gets directed towards the Earth. It is this current flow that results in damage to life and property.
  • Lightning has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings.
  • Once they are sufficiently near the ground, about 80-100 m from the surface, they even tend to redirect their course to hit the taller objects.
  • This is because travelling through air, which is a bad conductor of electricity, the electrons try to find a better conductor and also the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  • Thousands of thunderstorms occur over India every year. One thunderstorm can involve more than 100 lightning strikes.
Aug, 30, 2019

[pib] International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure


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

International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

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

Components of CDRI

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

Major Impact

  • The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  • It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders.
  • In doing so, it will create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices, with regard to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.
  • Economically weaker sections, the most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters will be benefitted from the improvement of knowledge and practice in creating disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • In India, the north-eastern and Himalayan regions are prone to earthquakes, coastal areas to cyclones and tsunamis and central peninsular region to droughts.
  • It will also benefit all areas with high disaster risk.
Aug, 30, 2019

[pib] Angikaar Campaign


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

Angikaar Campaign

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

Vulnerability Atlas of India

  • PM has released the Third Edition of Vulnerability Atlas of India March, 2019.
  • The third edition of Atlas brought out by BMTPC is collation of the existing hazard scenario for the entire country and presents the digitized State/UT-wise Hazard Maps with respect to Earthquakes, Winds & Floods for district-wise identification of vulnerable areas.
  • This edition contains additional digitized maps for Thunderstorms, Cyclones and Landslides.
  • The Atlas also presents the district-wise Housing Vulnerability Risk Tables based on wall types and roof types as per 2011 Census Housing data.
  • The Atlas is a useful tool not only for public but also for urban managers, State & National Authorities dealing with disaster mitigation and management.
Aug, 14, 2019

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


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

Causes for floods

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

Impact of floods

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

Way ahead

  1. Adequate precautions through dam management and timely public alerts.
  2. In construction, it is important to take appropriate decisions on the type and size of the structure, location, materials, and permissible damage it will cause to nature.
  3. We need to account for the damage done to natural ecosystems while estimating losses suffered due to natural disasters.
Aug, 12, 2019

Flooding has become a calendar event in India

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


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

Way ahead

India must strengthen institutional capacity for disaster mitigation and relief

Jul, 29, 2019

The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters”


Sharing space data for flood control

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

About the charter

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

India too raises its helping hand

  • This is a standard practice under the charter and in the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests.
  • In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province and killed 398.
Jul, 19, 2019

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


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

Why are floods so destructive in Assam?

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

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

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

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

How do these characteristics of the river relate to flooding?

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

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

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

Building embankments

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


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

But, is there a long-term solution?

  •  For a sustainable solution, there needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem.
  • An “integrated basin management” system that should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board
  • Addressing the issues only in Assam when the flood strikes isn’t the solution — one needs the countries to come to an understanding about taking measures in the catchment areas.
  •  For that, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are important.
  • Flood-plain zoning, which is done the US. “Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories, and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house etc,”
  • That is one option. We can’t help the rain but we can certainly control the damage caused by floods.”
Jun, 29, 2019

[pib] Resilient Kerala Program


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

Resilient Kerala Program

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

 Aim and Objectives

The program aims to support the State with:

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

Why such programme?

  • The 2018 floods and landslides in Kerala led to severe impact on property, infrastructure, and lives and livelihoods of people.
  • One sixth of the State’s population – about 5.4 million people – was affected while 1.4 million were displaced from their homes, especially the poor and vulnerable segments of the population.
Jun, 24, 2019

Flood Hazard Zonation Atlas for Odisha


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

Flood Hazard Zonation Atlas

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

Why Odisha?

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

A useful resource

  • All such combined flood layers for 18 years were integrated into flood hazard layer representing the observed flood-inundated areas with different frequencies.
  • This layer was integrated with the digital database layers of Odisha.
  • The atlas would serve as a useful resource of information for policy makers, planners and civil society groups.
May, 27, 2019

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


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

Flawed Urbanisation

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

History of fire incidents

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

Accountability is missing

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

Ignorance towards safety norms

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

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

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

Way forward

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

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

Enforcing accountability –

  • Beyond suspending a few officials and filing cases against the building owners, there is a need to make an example of sanctioning and enforcement authorities.
  • The unwavering message must be that Indians demand accountability. Mandatory Building Insurance
  • Mandating compulsory insurance for all public buildings against fire risk and public liability can bring about a change to the way architects and builders approach the question of safety, since the insurer would require a reduction of risk and compliance with building plans. At least, that would be a start to rewriting India’s shameful record on fire safety.
May, 23, 2019

‘Room for the River’ Project


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

‘Room for the River’ Project

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

Why such move?

  • Last year, Kerala had witnessed the century’s worst floods, which claimed nearly 500 lives and wiped out thousands of homes.
  • The Netherlands has historically been prone to flooding of rivers due to its low elevation. Much of the country lies below the sea level.
  • The country is located in the delta region of several major rivers like the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt.
  • In fact, the rise of water levels in the sea and rivers due to the effects of climate change is one of the major challenges facing the Dutch.
  • But over the years, the country’s expert water management techniques and creation of independent local government bodies for flood control have borne praise across the world.
May, 17, 2019

[pib] Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction


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

Why this Award?

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

Sasakawa Award

  • The UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is awarded to an individual or institutions that have taken active efforts in reducing disaster risk in their communities and advocates for disaster risk reduction.
  • It was instituted in 1986 and is jointly organized by the UNDRR and the Nippon Foundation.
  • A total grant of USD 50,000 is distributed among the winners which can be either organizations or individuals.
  • The theme of the 2019 Sasakawa award was “Building Inclusive and Resilient Societies”.
May, 15, 2019

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


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

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

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

India and GFDRR

  • India became member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair in last meeting of CG held in October 2018.
  • India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • This is the first time that India has been afforded the opportunity of co-chairing the CG meeting of GFDRR.
May, 06, 2019

[op-ed snap] Surviving Fani


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


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

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

Preparedness during Fani

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

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

Pathway for future

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

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

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

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

Steps to be taken to restore normalcy in Odisha

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

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

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

Overall Preparedness for disasters

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


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

Early weather warnings-

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


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


Apr, 20, 2019

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report


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

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

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

Significance of the report

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

Way Forward

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


Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS)

  • SEEDS, a non profit voluntary organization, is a collective endeavor of young professionals drawn from development related fields.
  • It originated as an informal group of likeminded persons, getting together for the purpose of creative research projects of academic interest.
  • The group was later formalized in early 1994 and has been active in the field ever since.
  • It is involved in research activities in Community Development, Disaster Management, Environmental Planning, Transport Planning, and Urban and Regional Planning.
  • Activities are carried out on behalf of government, semi – government and international development agencies. Independent programs on vital issues are also taken up.
Apr, 04, 2019

Sudden release of water from dams worsened Kerala floods


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

Poor dam management

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

No EAP in dams

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


Amicus Curiae to the Court

  • An amicus curiae (literally, “friend of the court”; plural, amici curiae) is someone, who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party.
  • It is he/she who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief.
Mar, 20, 2019

India sets up private sector alliance for DRR


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  ARISE India

Mains level: Various DRR initiatives


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


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

Why such move?

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

India’s losses to disasters

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


United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • The UNISDR created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
  • It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
  • UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.
Jan, 25, 2019

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


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

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


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

Rescue efforts were doomed from the beginning

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

Issue: Why things were delayed?

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

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

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

Questions arise with respect to rat-hole mining of coal

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

Ill-effects of Rat-hole mining

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

Arguments of coal mine owners

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

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

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

Meghalaya is a Sixth Schedule State

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

Abandoning their responsibility

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


  • The Central government and the Supreme Court should not allow this to carry on in one part of the country when strict laws are applied elsewhere.
Jan, 07, 2019

Yellow Alert sounded as Cyclone Pabuk reaches A&N Islands


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Cyclone Warning Systems of IMD

Mains level: Increasing incidences of tropical cyclones


Pabuk Cyclone

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

Weather Warning Systems

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


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


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

3.  RED

  • Red level severe weather warnings should be a comparatively rare event and implies that recipients take action to protect themselves and/or their properties.
  • This is usually done by moving their families out of the danger zone temporarily (evacuation), by staying indoors or by other specific actions aimed at mitigating the effects of the weather conditions.
  • It is in the case of a red weather alert that we could see serious disruption to public transport, road closures and school closures.
Dec, 29, 2018

Govt institutes annual awards to recognise excellent work in disaster management


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar

Mains level: Role of individuals and organizations in Disaster Management in India


  • The Centre has instituted annual awards to recognise the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in the country in the field of disaster management.

Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar

  1. Three eligible institutions and individuals will be given the aforesaid award every year with cash rewards ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 51 lakh by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  2. If the awardee is an institution, it will be given a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and the prize money will be utilised for disaster management-related activities only.
  3. If the awardee is an individual, the person shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
  4. An application by an institution does not debar any individual from that institution to apply for the award in his individual capacity.
  5. The applications has to be filed online on www.dmawards.ndma.gov.in

Criteria for the Award

  1. Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award.
  2. For institutional awards, voluntary organisations, corporate entities, academic, research institutions, response, uniformed forces or any other institution may apply for the award.
  3. The applicant must have worked in the area of disaster management like prevention, mitigation, preparedness, rescue, response, relief, rehabilitation, research, innovation or early warning related work in India.
  4. The application must be accompanied by details of the work done in disaster management and must highlight achievements in any one or more of the areas like saving human lives, reduction in impact of disasters on lives, livestock, livelihoods, property, society, economy, or environment.
  5. Mobilisation and provision of resources for effective response during disasters, immediate relief work in disaster hit areas and communities, effective and innovative use of technology in any field of disaster management and disaster mitigation initiatives in hazard prone areas are some of the other criteria.
Nov, 26, 2018

RIMES terms Titli cyclone ‘rarest of rare’


Mains Paper 1: Geography | Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RIMES

Mains level: Impact of such rarest cyclones on coast as well as hinterlands



  1. The severe cyclonic storm Titli left more than 60 people dead, mainly due to land slide in interior Gajapati district of Odisha.
  2. The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for Africa and Asia, a 45-nation international organisation on disaster warning, has termed ‘Titli’as ‘rarest cyclone’.

Rarest in 200 Years

  1. More than 200 years of cyclone track history in the Odisha coast reveals that the Titli cyclone is the rarest of rare.
  2. The severe cyclone had changed its path after landfall.
  3. It is explained in terms of its characteristics such as recurvature after landfall and retaining its destructive potential after landfall and recurvature away from the coastal areas for more than two days.
  4. Considering the history of cyclone tracks, no synthetic track projection captures the Titli type of
  5. The forecast information available lacks actionable early warning information such as no indication of occurrence of secondary hazards, including landslides far away from the coasts.

Danger is not limited to Coast

  1. The State government actions linked to the cyclone-risk management is heavily focused on the coastal areas where cyclones cross at their peak intensities.
  2. Therefore, coastal areas now have been largely well managed through evacuations and other protocols, leading to zero casualties in these areas.
  3. The highest number of casualties occurred in a village called Baraghara in Gajapati district due to landslides.
  4. People did not evacuate, as the risk is unknown and also not expected. There was no pin-pointed forecast available what will happen where.


  1. The RIMES stands for Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia.
  2. It is an international and intergovernmental institution, owned and managed by its Member States, for the generation and application of early warning information.
  3. It was established on 30 April 2009, and was registered with the United Nations on 1 July 2009.
  4. It operates from its regional early warning center located at the campus of the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand.
  5. RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
  6. It aims to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
  7. RIMES caters to differential needs and demands of its Member States by enhancing capacities for end-to-end multi-hazard early warning, in particular:
  • Hazard monitoring, detection, analysis, prediction, and forecasting
  • Risk assessment
  • Potential impact analysis
  • Generation of tailored risk information at different time scales
  • Risk communication
  • Application of tailored risk information in decision-making
  1. The governing council is composed of heads of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and national scientific and technical agencies generating multi-hazard early warning information.
  2. The Council is empowered to make policy decisions, on behalf of governments, concerning regional early warning arrangements, for enhanced preparedness, response, and mitigation of natural hazards.
  3. Currently, India chairs the RIMES Council.
Nov, 26, 2018

IMD develops technology to assess rise of water level in rivers, reservoirs by rain


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Impact Based Forecasting Approach

Mains level: Flood Monitoring using Impact Based Forecasting Approach


  • A new technology has been developed by IMD to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall.

Impact Based Forecasting Approach

  1. The technology shows “pre-event scenario which can help authorities in taking real-time decisions.
  2. With this the government can be able to generate a scenario where it can take decisions to release water or not release it.
  3. It will be helpful for every state authority to take a decision.
  4. There is another technology which would help in identifying warm ocean segments that are contributing to the rapid intensification of the systems.
Oct, 22, 2018

[op-ed snap] Amritsar disaster: avoidable tragedy


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s tradition of festivals and cultural gatherings and how to avoid them becoming tragedies


Amritsar Train Accident

  1. Each one of the 59 deaths on Dussehra night at Joda Phatak near Amritsar when a local diesel multiple unit train ran over a crowd could have been prevented
  2. In the aftermath of the entirely preventable carnage, in which spectators crowding a railway track to watch the burning of effigies were mowed down by a train, there is a frantic effort to pin responsibility on agencies and individuals, and, deplorably, to exploit public anger for political ends

Bravado by people

    1. The Dhobi Ghat ground, where the effigy of Ravana had been set on fire, is a small plot surrounded by houses on two sides
    2. People who couldn’t find space in the ground — according to reports, it could have accommodated only about 200 persons — had climbed the wall and occupied the railway track, disregarding the fact that this could prove to be dangerous
    3. Perhaps, some may have thought that they could jump off the tracks if and when a train approached
    4. It is the same misplaced bravado that makes people jump red lights at level-crossings or traffic junctions, drive on the wrong side of the road or overspeed on busy routes

Responsiblity of various stakeholders

  1. It seems the organisers of the Dussehra function did repeatedly warn the people perched on the track to be mindful of the passing trains
  2. The law enforcement machinery played a lukewarm role in crowd control
  3. The Municipal Corporation in Amritsar has tried to distance itself, claiming that its permission was not sought, although almost everyone in the city knew it was taking place

Festive celebrations turning into tragedies

  1. Major religious festivals in India are often overshadowed by deadly incidents such as stampedes and fires
  2. There were 249 deaths at the Chamunda Devi temple stampede in Jodhpur in 2008
  3. A railway station stampede took place during the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad in 2013 in which 36 people died

NDMA protocol

  1. The National Disaster Management Authority has responded to these horrors by creating a guide for State governments and local bodies, laying down a clear protocol to be followed for mass gatherings and festivals
  2. But this protocol is hitherto followed by various agencies responsible for its implementation

What should be done for future events?

  1. There should be a transformation of the way such events are organised, with a lead agency in each State and district empowered to issue instructions, and in turn be accountable for public safety
  2. A campaign to educate the public that railway tracks cannot be treated as commons, and vigorous enforcement, will reduce the probability of such incidents
  3. The Railways must identify hazard spots for train movement in heavily built-up areas and prevent trespass by barricading them

Way forward

  1. The government departments have not yet taken official protocols for safety at mass gatherings seriously
  2. What happened in Amritsar shows the disastrous consequences of the absence of a civic culture that can act as a restraint on misguided enthusiasms of the people, while at the same time posing a question mark on the vigilance of administrative agencies and the judgement of politicians in the face of swelling crowds
  3. A culture of safety can take root if governments imbibe it first

With inputs from the editorial: A dark night

Oct, 13, 2018

India lost $79.5 billion due to climate-related disasters in last 20 years: UN


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: “Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters” Report

Mains level:  Economic impact of natural disasters on middle income countries like India.


“Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters” Report

  1. India lost $79.5 billion to climate-related disasters in the last two decades a/c to UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report.
  2. The UNISDR highlighted that there has been a “dramatic rise of 251%” globally in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters in the last 20 years.
  3. In the period 1998-2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of $2.9 trillion, 77% out of which was caused by climate-related disasters.
  4. The report comes in the wake of the IPCC alarm sounding a rise in extreme weather events, if warming is not limited to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Findings of the Report

  1. At least 91% of all major disasters recorded from 1988 to 2017 were climate-related says the report.
  2. The 2 billion people were affected by floods, which accounted for 43.4% of these disasters, followed by droughts, which affected a further 1.5 billion people.
  3. The average number of disasters per year has increased to 329 in the latest 20-year period, with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather related events.
  4. Storms were among the most frequently occurring disasters, along with floods.
  5. US recorded the biggest monetary losses reflecting high asset values, while China suffered a significantly higher number of disasters.

Impact on India

  1. The report shows that while absolute economic losses might be concentrated in high income countries, the human cost of disasters falls on low- and lower middle-income countries.
  2. India is among five countries after the US, China and Japan and Puerto Rico, which have witnessed the greatest economic losses due to climate-related disasters.
  3. The findings suggest that an average of 130 people died per million living in disaster-affected areas in low income countries, compared to 18 in high-income countries, in disasters since 2000.
  4. That means people exposed to natural hazards in the poorest nations were more than seven times more likely to die, than equivalent populations in the richest nations.

Protection Gap worsens the Losses

  1. This report highlights the protection gap between rich and poor.
  2. The analysis shows that people in low-income countries are six times more likely to lose all their worldly possessions or suffer injury in a disaster than people in high-income countries.
  3. The report’s analysis makes it clear that economic losses from extreme weather events are unsustainable and a major brake on eradicating poverty in hazard-exposed parts of the world.
Oct, 05, 2018

India launches 'Operation Samudra Maitri' to help tsunami-hit Indonesia


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op Samudra Maitri, Causes of the Tsunami

Mains level:  India’s HADR operations.


Operation Samudra Maitri

  1. India has launched a massive operation for humanitarian assistance to provide assistance to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia.
  2. It dispatched two aircraft and three naval ships carrying relief material to the country.
  3. The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team along with tents and equipments to set up a field hospital.
  4. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance.
  5. Three Indian Navy ships — INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul — have also been mobilised to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).


What Caused Indonesia Tsunami?

  1. A chain of geological events set off by the violent quake liquefied the loose soil and possibly caused an underwater landslide, triggering a tsunami wave that may have been intensified by the shape of the bay.
  2. The quake was likely caused by movement of the Palu-Koro fault which runs almost north to south down Sulawesi on a line through Palu’s narrow bay.

  1. The Palu-Koro is a strike-slip fault, where the two sides slide past each other horizontally, unlike a thrust fault which pushes one side over the other.
  2. A thrust quake is more likely to trigger a tsunami because its vertical motion pushes a column of seawater upwards, setting a wave in motion.

  1. The fault usually shifts by 30 to 40 mm a year, with the western side heading south while the eastern edge moves north.
  2. The shaky nature of this particular quake has triggered the liquefaction, by agitating the water to such an extent that mud bubbled up from underground, weakening foundations, and uprooting trees.
Sep, 29, 2018

Centre to hike grant for SDRF


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SDRF- Funding and its mandate

Mains level:  Disaster management in India


90% of allocation to be paid by Centre

  1. The Centre has increased its contribution in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 75% to 90% with effect from April 1, announced the Union Home Ministry.
  2. Kerala, which has recently faced the worst floods, will be a major beneficiary of the Centre’s decision.
  3. Henceforth all States will be required to contribute 10% to the SDRF.

About State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)

  1. The SDRF constituted under Section 48 (1) (a) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters.
  2. The Central Government earlier contributed 75% of SDRF allocation for general category States/UTs and 90% for special category States/UTs (NE States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).
  3. The annual Central contribution is released in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  4. SDRF shall be used only for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims.
  5. Disaster (s) covered under SDRF: Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves.
  6. Local Disaster:A State Government may use up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF for providing immediate relief to the victims of disasters that they consider to be ‘disasters’ within the local context.
  7. These are such which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Sep, 29, 2018

Ministerial panel to study need for disaster levy in GST


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much.

Mains level: Policy measures to mitigate disaster incurred losses.



  1. The Union Government set up a ministerial panel to study the legality of imposing a “disaster levy” to raise funds for states struck by natural calamities, such as the recent floods in Kerala.
  2. Following the floods, Kerala had suggested a 10% cess on the state component of the GST.

Tasks of the Panel

  1. The group of ministers will look into several issues, including the possibility of a pan-India levy or state-specific tax, and whether the tax will be levied on all items or sin and luxury goods.
  2. The panel will also decide on the scale of disaster, which would require funds in addition to what is provided under the national disaster relief fund (NDRF).
  3. The committee will have representation from north-eastern states, coastal states and hill states, which are prone to natural calamities.
  4. The Constitution amendment brought in to facilitate GST’s rollout has a provision that in the event of a natural calamity, a special rate can be imposed with the permission of the GST Council.

Questioning the viability

  1. Some experts, however, did not favour changes in the GST architecture to raise resources for dealing with natural calamities.
  2. The introduction of any cess either at the national level or at the state level should be avoided so as it would make the entire GST process, including the invoicing and return filings, much more complex for all businesses.
Sep, 24, 2018

What caused Kerala Floods?


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hungry Water Effect

Mains level:  Floods have been devastating in India as usual irrespective of the terrain. The newscard studies various factors which intensifies the impact of flooding events in India.


Causes of Extreme Floods

(A) Above Normal Rainfall

  1. The summer monsoon rainfall in Kerala from May to August this year was 2,290 mm, which was 53% above normal.
  2. The average rainfall during the summer monsoon period (June-September) is about 1,619 mm.
  3. As a result, six of the seven major reservoirs in the State had over 90% storage before August 8, well before Kerala received the unprecedented extreme rainfall events.
  4. Finally, the catchment areas of major reservoirs in the State received extreme rainfall never before witnessed in the State.

(B) Problem of Storage

  1. With over 90% storage, six of the seven major reservoirs had more than the normal storage before the extreme events could occur.
  2. In August 2018, the catchments upstream of the major reservoirs of upstream of the Idukki, Kakki, and Periyar experienced unprecedented extreme rainfall since 1901.

(C) Hungry Water Effect

  1. The capture of sediments below dams has profound impact on geomorphology of downstream river. This water released below dam level is called hungry water.
  2. The potential energy of the hungry water released from dams scour the river banks downstream, uprooting trees or riparian vegetation and damaging bridges and other engineering structures
  3. Overloaded with silt and clay from the eroding river banks, the highly turbid and viscous water clogs drainage channels.
  4. Subsequent discharge of water from the dam will lead to inundation and waterlogging of large areas.

(D) Sand Mining

  1. Years of uncontrolled sand mining have left most of the rivers in Kerala depleted or exhausted of sand and gravel.
  2. When the river channel has adequate supply of sand and gravel, the potential energy of the water is used to transport the mixture.
  3. The water does not scour the banks or turn muddy.
  4. The submerged areas devoid of sand and gravel in turn triggers hungry water effect until the clay in the water settles.
Sep, 20, 2018

[pib] Cabinet approves Revised Cost Estimate of Dam rehabilitation and Improvement Project


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DRIP

Mains level:  Ensuring safety of downstream population



  • The CCEA has approved the Revised Cost Estimate of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) at the revised cost of Rs 3466 crore with the financial assistance of the World Bank.

Benefit of the Project

  1. The project will improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams and mitigate risks to ensure safety of downstream population and property.
  2. The primary beneficiaries are both urban and rural communities dependent on reservoir and downstream communities, who are prone to risk associated with dam failure or operational failure.
  3. Further effectiveness of Dam Safety Organisations will be increased to take the lead to make dams safe from structural and operational point of view through capacity building of staff and officials.


Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)

  1. DRIP is a state sector scheme with central component to improve safety and operational performance of selected dams, along with institutional strengthening with system wide management approach.
  2. The project was launched in 2012 by Central Water Commission (CWC) under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation with assistance from World Bank.
  3. The states included are Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.
  4. DRIP envisages following objectives: –
  • Component-I: – Rehabilitation of Dam and its Appurtenant Structures,
  • Component-II: – Institutional Strengthening and
  • Component-Ill: – Project Management.
Sep, 06, 2018

[op-ed snap] The gap in disaster management funding


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NDMA, NDRF, SDRF,

Mains level: Need of post-disaster funds for adequate mitigation and rehabilitation of affected population


Debate on post-disaster funds

  1. The debate between the Centre and the Kerala government on the offer and acceptance of foreign aid following the floods has drawn attention away from the core question at stake—one of fiscal federalism
  2. The goods and services tax (GST) has increased the centralization of fiscal powers, limiting the autonomy of states to raise their own revenue for public expenditure
  3. The interplay of the fledgling GST regime with the role and responsibilities of the Centre and states under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, (DMA) has led to an uncharted situation

Fiscal domain of states

  1. Public health, roads, bridges and ferries, inland waterways, agriculture and land are state subjects, under List II of the Constitution
  2. The Kerala government has sought to impose a cess of 10% to finance the rebuilding of the state following the devastation caused by floods
  3. In terms of Article 279A of the Constitution, the GST Council is the forum for approving any new state tax on account of a natural calamity or disaster

Need for more finance devolution

  1. Given that the taxation powers (and consequently, budgets) of states are significantly constrained on account of GST, it is incumbent on the Centre to share the states’ burdens in times of crisis
  2. Previously, states received 60% of all indirect taxes, while the Centre received 40%. This has now changed to a 50-50 division, even though the Centre forgoes cesses
  3. The GST is believed to increase state revenue in the long term, but, at the moment, several states, including Kerala, have reported a significant reduction in tax revenues under the new tax regime
  4. State governments have increased expenditure responsibilities (on account of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana scheme, pay revisions and farm loan waivers)—more so in times of crises
  5. Without an adequate share of taxes, they are pushed to borrow more, hardly a sustainable source of financing public expenditure

Ignorance of state demands as well as DMA

  1. The DMA, which predates the GST Act, expands the role of the Centre in disaster management, but this has not resulted in adequate budgetary apportionment for states
  2. The prime minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and secretaries of the concerned central government ministries and departments are members of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
  3. The NEC is responsible for formulating the national plan, which the central government is to finance by making “adequate provisions”
  4. Despite the statutory role of the Centre under the DMA, it places primary responsibility for disaster management on the states

Post-disaster mitigation has no specific funds

  1. The state disaster response fund (SDRF) is the primary means available to the states of financing disaster relief and response
  2. As per the operational guidelines for the national disaster response fund (NDRF), the fund is intended only to provide immediate relief to disaster victims
  3. Neither the NDRF nor the SDRF can be used for restoration or reconstruction in the aftermath of a disaster
  4. These expenses are to be met from normal budgetary heads or plan funds

Inadequate resources available for mitigation

  1. The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF for general category states and 90% to special category states
  2. The total budgeted expenditure for the entire country for 2018-19 was ₹12,500 crore
  3. Assocham estimates the loss suffered by Kerala alone, at ₹15,000-20,000 crore

Way Forward

  1. By concentrating taxing power, the 122nd amendment to the Constitution has tilted the balance of federal powers towards the Centre
  2. It is not unreasonable for states to expect that the Centre will extend financial support during disasters
  3. The Centre must step in with additional disaster relief to prevent excessive borrowing by the state and the makings of another disaster
Sep, 04, 2018

India to take part in tsunami mock drill


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IOWave18

Mains level: Enhancing preparedness against menace of Tsunami


Mock Tsunami Drill – IOWave18

  1. India along with 23 other nations would be participating in a major Indian ocean-wide tsunami mock exercise (drill) which would involve evacuation of thousands of people from coastal areas in over half a dozen states.
  2. The exercise IOWave18 is being organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.
  3. The purpose of exercise is to increase tsunami preparedness, evaluate response capabilities in each state and improve coordination throughout the region.
  4. The exercise would involve the evacuation of more than 1,25,000 people from the coastal communities of Odisha, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Goa.
  5. The exercise will simulate Indian Ocean countries being put in a tsunami warning situation and require the National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC), i.e., INCOIS in case of India, and the National and Local Disaster Management Offices to implement their strategies.

Tsunami Warning System in India

  1. The IOC coordinated the setting up of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) in the aftermath of December 26, 2004 tsunami.
  2. The Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC), based out of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  3. The centre has all necessary infrastructure for the reception of real-time data from seismic and sea-level networks, tsunami modeling, as well as generation and dissemination of tsunami bulletins for the entire IOR.
Aug, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] Kerala floods highlight India’s poor dam management


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of dams in averting floods & need for better usage strategy of dams in India


Dam management in India

  1. In India’s quest to control water, dams have always loomed large
  2. Under relentless downpours, poor dam management may have aggravated the floods, raising questions about the role of dams in Kerala and other states

Motive behind the construction of dams

  1. Dams can manage rivers, storing their water, adjusting flows and redirecting channels
  2. India is home to more than 5,000 large dams (over 15 meters high), the third largest number in the world, behind the US and China
  3. Only a handful of these dams (28) are built explicitly for flood control

What happened in Kerela?

  1. Kerala is home to 53 large dams with a collective capacity of nearly 7 trillion litres
  2. The Idukki and Idamalayar dams (the two biggest) together have stored 21.3% of the Periyar’s (Kerala’s longest river) annual flow, greatly limiting the flood’s damage
  3. As rain poured and rivers overflowed, these dams should have served as a bulwark
  4. For dams to truly tame floods, dam reservoirs need to be relatively empty before the onset of rains but this was not the case in Kerala
  5. The Idukki dam was already near full capacity by July-end even as rains were relatively weak (below normal levels) during that period
  6. When the downpours arrived in August, the near full-capacity Idukki was forced to release water into already flooded areas

Lack of vision in dam operations

  1. A lack of foresight is common in India’s dam management and has worsened floods across the country
  2. Several of India’s floods, such as Bihar in 2016 and Surat in 2006, were exacerbated by poor dam management
  3. In the 2015 Chennai floods, which claimed 295 lives, violation of dam safety norms was a critical factor, a CAG report found
  4. More than half of Kerala’s dams (57%) are hydroelectric projects operated by the Kerala State Electricity Board; the rest are operated by the irrigation department
  5. For both entities, the amount of water to store is motivated by the demand for electricity and irrigation, rather than flood control measures

A big issue: Inter-state dam management

  1. Like many dams in India, the Mullaperiyar is located in one state (Kerala) but operated by another (Tamil Nadu)
  2. Both state governments have been in constant conflict over the dam’s water level
  3. In the current crisis, the Supreme Court had to intervene

Warning Ignored

  1. The 2011 Western Ghats ecology expert panel (the Madhav Gadgil Committee report) had labelled areas of the state as extremely ecologically-sensitive where no developmental activities should take place
  2. According to Gadgil, unchecked quarrying and construction in these areas caused these floods
  3. Now, data from the state’s disaster management control room shows that flood casualties and injuries are widespread, but there is some concentration in the few ecologically sensitive areas
  4. The Gadgil report was sceptical about dams, warning against their construction in the Western Ghats
  5. But most of Gadgil’s recommendations were rejected as too impractical, highlighting the tension between dams and development

Other issues

  1. Other man-made issues, such as urban development and quarrying have also been a factor in Kerela floods
  2. In Kerala, much of which sits on the Western Ghats, development activity can increase the chances of landslides—the biggest source of fatalities in floods
Aug, 24, 2018

ICOMOS launches initiative to save cultural heritage damaged in Kerala floods


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICOMOS

Mains level: Read the attached story



  1. Kerala is facing its worst floods in nearly a century that has left 223 dead in a fortnight and forced over 10 lakh people out of their homes. The Centre has declared this calamity of ‘severe nature’.
  2. The ICOMOS, a global monument conservation body, has launched an initiative to assess the damage to the rich cultural and built heritage in flood-devastated Kerala and set up an emergency response platform.
  3. ICOMOS is seeking support from the state government, the NDMA and reaching out to local conservation professionals.

Why ICOMOS in Kerala?

  1. Aftermath of rescue and relief it is very important to start preparations for assessing the damage and risks to the rich tangible, intangible, movable and immovable heritage that has been adversely affected by these floods.
  2. These include monuments, historic buildings, museum collections and artefacts of significance to the community.
  3. Kerala is endowed with natural beauty, and is home to a number of iconic forts, palaces and other heritage buildings, which attract a huge number of tourists every year.

Heritage Response Team

  1. This team for heritage will consist of architects, engineers, conservators, historians, and all those who are concerned about heritage and willing to give a helping hand.
  2. The ICOMOS-India chief said it has also approached the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to partner in the post-disaster work.
  3. Rome-based ICCROM is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide through training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy programmes.
  4. It imbibes the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, cultural heritage and its protection which helps build resilience and enhances the ability of the affected population to participate in its own recovery.

About International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

  1. It is a professional association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world.
  2. Now headquartered in Paris, ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964 and offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.
Aug, 23, 2018

Kerala flood lesson for Assam


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dams mentioned and their downstream impacts.

Mains level: Flooding events have become consequent in every parts of India. The newscard highlights man-made causes which worsen havoc created by floods.


Network of dams in the “control of other States”

  1. Flood-experienced Assam can learn a lesson from the Kerala to avoid large-scale disaster.
  2. The experts have found a similar pattern to recurrent floods in Assam up to four times a year between April and October – and Kerala’s worst flood ever.
  3. The most worrying similarity is a network of dams in the control of other States surrounding Kerala and Assam.

Flash Floods due to sudden release from dams

  1. Assam is surrounded Hydropower projects in neighbouring States and in adjoining Bhutan.
  2. Assam has been rain-deficient by 30% this year, but Golaghat district experienced flash flood due to the release of excess water by the Doyang dam in Nagaland.
  3. Similar was the case in Assam’s Lakhimpur district last year because of the Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh while the Kurichu dam in Bhutan has often caused flooding in western Assam.

A downstream impact in Kerala

  1. A majority of 39 dams that affected Kerala are on inter-State rivers and under the control of neighbouring States such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  2. The decision of how much water and when to be released is not within the purview of Kerala, which is suffering from downstream impact of those dams and the situation is similar for Assam.

More dams coming in NE

  1. More dams coming up in other NE States and in Bhutan could spell doom for Assam.
  2. Arunachal Pradesh too is wary of the impact of big dams.
  3. The river Siang (one of three that meet to form the Brahmaputra downstream) has suffered from dams and other constructions in China upstream.

Rampant deforestation and negligence

  1. The second lesson that Assam needs to learn from Kerala is the effect of rampant deforestation, mining, and quarrying.
  2. Kerala has allowed settlement on elephant corridors such as Thirunelli-Kadrakote and Kottiyoor-Periya, leading to felling.
  3. The consequence has been killer landslides on an unprecedented scale.
  4. Kerala is by far one of the more developed States in terms of literacy and development planning, but it has suddenly been exposed like Tamil Nadu was during the devastating floods in 2015.
  5. Kerala is reaping the consequences of neglecting, like other Western Ghats States, the recommendations of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan panels against hydro-power projects in ecologically sensitive zones.

Way Forward

  1. Micro-climate controlled by land use was the primary reason behind the catastrophe in Kerala though climate change was the overriding factor.
  2. Rainfall in Kerala has been increasing after a dip in 2013, but the annual rainfall in many parts of the northeast is much higher than the southern coastal State.
  3. The densely populated floodplains of Assam thus have to worry because of changes in land use that have impacted the micro-climate adversely.
Aug, 22, 2018

Explained: "Calamity of a severe nature"


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NDRF

Mains level: Enhancing preparedness for disaster management.


No legal provisions to designate a disaster a ‘national calamity’

  1. The Union government has declared the Kerala floods a “calamity of severe nature”.
  2. Here is a look at what this means, whether the State can expect additional help from the Centre and how the various disaster relief funds in the country are funded and deployed.

What are the classifications of disasters and how does this affect funding?

  1. According to the National Disaster Management Policy, the State governments have to provide disaster relief from their respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRFs).
  2. And only for a “calamity of severe nature” will additional assistance be provided from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  3. There is no provision in the law or rules for the government to designate a disaster a “national calamity”.
  4. The guidelines of the NDRF and SDRFs did not contemplate declaring a disaster a national calamity.

How are the NDRF and the SDRFs funded?

  1. The NDRF is funded through a National Calamity Contingent Duty levied on pan masala, chewing tobacco and cigarettes, and with budgetary provisions as and when needed.
  2. A provision exists to encourage any person or institution to make a contribution to the NDRF. However, this source of funding has not been tapped so far, according to the government.
  3. The 14th Finance Commission recommended changes to this structure once the cess was discontinued or subsumed within the Goods and Services Tax.
  4. However, the government, instead, decided to continue with the National Calamity Contingent Duty even in the GST regime.
  5. The SDRF corpus is contributed by the Union government and the respective State governments in a 75:25 ratio for general category States and 90:10 for Special Category States.
  6. The allocation of the SDRF for each State is done by the Finance Commission, and the Centre contributes its specified share each financial year.
  7. The Central share of SDRF is released in two equal installments, in June and then in December.

What has been the trend in budgetary allocations to the NDRF and SDRFs?

  1. The Union government has maintained a steady flow of funds to the NDRF each year, ranging from ₹5,690 crore in 2015-16 to a budgeted amount of ₹2,500 crore for the current financial year.
  2. In addition, the Centre has also been contributing to the SDRFs every year, amounting to ₹ 8,374.95 crore in 2016-17 and ₹7,281.76 crore in 2017-18.


National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

  1. It is a specialised force constituted “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  2. The Apex Body for Disaster Management in India is the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  3. The Chairman of the NDMA is the Prime Minister.
  4. The responsibility for disaster management in India’s federal system is that of the State Government.
  5. The ‘nodal Ministry’ in the central government for management of natural disasters is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  6. When ‘calamities of severe nature’ occur, the Central Government is responsible for providing aid and assistance to the affected state.
Aug, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] Kerala floods: The prescriptions for the Western Ghats


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gadgil & Kasturangan Committee report, Western Ghats (important geographic features)

Mains level: Flooding events in the recent past in India & how these type of disasters can be averted


Unprecedented floods in Kerela: Gadgil Committee report

  1. The floods in Kerala have brought the focus back on an almost forgotten 2011 report on the Western Ghats that had made a set of recommendations for preserving the ecology and biodiversity of the fragile region along the Arabian Sea coast
  2. Madhav Gadgil, lead author of the report has publicly argued that had the report’s suggestions been implemented by the concerned state governments, the scale of the disaster in Kerala would not have been as huge as it is

Why was the Gadgil Committee set up?

  1. Seeing the threats to the ecosystem from construction, mining, industries, real estate, and hydropower the environment ministry had set up the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel under Gadgil
  2. The panel was asked to make an assessment of the ecology and biodiversity of the Western Ghats and suggest measures to conserve, protect and rejuvenate the entire range that stretches to over 1500 km along the coast, with its footprints in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu

What did the Gadgil Committee say?

  1. It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management
  2. It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA)
  3. Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat
  4. It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, each approximately 9 km × 9 km, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks
  5. The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area

Major recommendations

  1. A ban on the cultivation of genetically modified in the entire area
  2. Plastic bags to be phased out in three years
  3. No new special economic zones or hill stations to be allowed
  4. Ban on conversion of public lands to private lands, and on diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes in ESZ I and II
  5. No new mining licences in ESZ I and II area
  6. No new dams, thermal power plants or large-scale wind power projects in ESZ I
  7. No new polluting industries in ESZ I and ESZ II areas
  8. No new railway lines or major roads in ESZ I and II areas
  9. Strict regulation of tourism
  10. Cumulative impact assessment for all new projects like dams, mines, tourism, housing
  11. Phase-out of all chemical pesticides within five to eight years in ESZ I and ESZ II

Kerela’s objections

  1. Kerala had objected to the proposed ban on sand mining and quarrying, restrictions on transport infrastructure and wind energy projects, embargos on hydroelectric projects, and inter-basin transfer of river waters, and also the complete ban on new polluting industries

Kasturirangan Committee & its proposals

  1. A High-Level Working Group on the Western Ghats was constituted under Kasturirangan to examine the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others
  2. This committee submitted its report in April 2013
  3. It broadened the definition of Western Ghats and included a total of 1,64,280 square km in it
  4. It then classified it as comprising cultural landscape and natural landscape. It said nearly 60% of the Western Ghats was cultural landscape, where human settlements, agriculture and plantations existed
  5. The remaining was the natural landscape, of which the “biologically rich” area was only 37% or about 60,000 sq km
  6. It was only this part that the committee said needed to be classified as an ecologically sensitive area (ESA)

Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee

  1. A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining
  2. No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions
  3. A ban on new polluting industries
  4. Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned
  5. Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards

Way Forward

  1. The Kerala disaster essentially has been caused by extreme rainfall
  2.  Since the 2013 Uttarakhand flooding, such extreme rainfall events have led to one disaster-like situation in India every year
  3. Even in the Uttarakhand disaster, uncontrolled construction, large hydropower plants and deforestation were assessed to have aided the scale of destruction
  4. There is now a need to learn lessons from past tragedies and increase the resilience of disaster-struck areas through sustainable and long-term development that would involve minimal intervention in natural processes
Aug, 21, 2018

Telangana Govt launches Disaster Response Force vehicles


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DRF

Mains level: Enhancing preparedness for disaster management.


Disaster Response Force (DRF) vehicles

  1. The Telangana Government has launched Disaster Response Force (DRF) vehicles in Hyderabad to combat situations like flash floods, heavy rains, building collapse and fire mishaps.
  2. The vehicles will be parked at 24 locations with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) DRF staff and will be pressed into action at the time of need.
  3. Hyderabad is also the second city to have an exclusive Enforcement Vigilance Disaster Management wing.

Enhancing Preparedness for disaster

  1. The main aim behind the initiative is that the state should have its own disaster force.
  2. The force has been trained in tackling urban flooding, tree falls, structural collapses and any other site of emergencies.
  3. The team is capable to work continuously during emergencies.
  4. The disaster personal will be available on the field for 24/7.
Aug, 14, 2018

[op-ed snap] Keeping dry: On Kerala floods


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Flood events in various parts of country and measures that need to be taken to effectively handle them


Impact of flooding in Kerela

  1. More than three dozen people have died and an estimated ₹8,316 crore worth of economic assets have been lost in the seasonal rain in Kerela, particularly over the past week
  2. The gates of reservoirs in the Idukki system, a giant hydroelectric project, and several other dams have been opened, inundating riverside habitations downstream
  3. In the northern districts, damage to houses, roads and other structures has occurred owing to landslips caused by incessant showers

Trend of rainfall in Kerala

  1. Kerala’s unusually heavy monsoon this year is in contrast to the long-period trend of rainfall
  2. According to an analysis of data on the monsoon between 1954 and 2003 by climate researchers at the University of Cambridge, overall this part of the country had become drier in summer, but with an emerging frequency of destructive flash floods in rare events
  3. This trend is expected to become stronger

Steps that need to be taken

  1. There is the need for governments to strengthen their resilience planning
  2. It should begin with a programme to relocate people away from hazard zones along the rivers that were in spate in Kerala over the past week after the shutters of more than two dozen dams were opened
  3. The spectacular disaster this year also underscores the role of the government as the insurer of last resort for the average citizen
  4. This is because in Mumbai last year, those who had private household insurance cover against disasters discovered the limitations of such policies
  5. The companies were unwilling to pay many homeowners for a key risk such as costly displacement from homes since the houses were not structurally damaged

Way Forward

  1. The catastrophic impact of monsoon rainfall on several districts of Kerala has come as a grim reminder that the vigil against unpredictable natural disasters must never be relaxed
  2. All States naturally look to Kerala, with its record of social development, for evolving best practices to handle such natural disasters
Jul, 13, 2018

[op-ed snap] Spirit Of Sendai


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai Framework

Mains level: Disaster vulnerability of India & Asia as a whole and steps that can be taken to mitigate disaster risks


Asia’s vulnerability to disasters

  1. No other region in the world illustrates the now chronic nature of displacement caused by extreme weather events and climate change more than Asia and the Pacific
  2. Asia accounted for almost 50 per cent of the worldwide loss of life from disasters last year
  3. Last year, 18.8 million people were forced to run for their lives from floods, storms and earthquakes in 135 countries across the globe
  4. 11.4 million people were from across East and South Asia and the Pacific islands
  5. Reports suggest that a million people have been displaced by heavy monsoon rains, floods and landslides in India and Bangladesh, where the cyclone season also threatens

Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

  1. It was held in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, early July
  2. The conference has been convening every two years since 2005
  3. The focus of the discussions was on the clear need for accelerated implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
  4. It is the global plan to reduce disaster losses that was adopted in Japan three years ago

About Sendai Framework

  1. It sets out seven targets for
  • reduction in loss of life,
  • numbers of people affected,
  • economic losses and damage to infrastructure through enhanced international cooperation,
  • better risk information and
  • early warning systems

The plan also sets a deadline of 2020 for a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction

Disaster risk mitigation

  1. Both India and Mongolia have adopted national strategies aligned with the Sendai Framework’s priorities
  2. Both are investing in developing and maintaining national disaster loss databases, which are essential to guide risk-informed investment at the local level in critical infrastructure such as housing, schools, hospitals, public utilities and transport links
  3. Their example must be emulated by many other countries across the region because it is at the local level that the work of prevention and risk reduction starts to pay a dividend in terms of resilience
  4. It is also at the local level that most progress can be made on ensuring an inclusive approach to disaster risk management, one which includes the insights and experiences of those who may be marginalised and disproportionately affected by disaster events
  5. Women, girls, youth, older persons, persons living with disabilities and indigenous people should be actively recruited as agents of change in their communities

Way forward

  1. Rapid scale of urbanisation across the region is an opportunity to do development in a risk-informed, resilient way that avoids creating future disasters
  2. More than anything, it is the human cost of disasters that is the most compelling argument for action
  3. Real progress will bring down the numbers of families and people internally displaced by disasters
Jun, 14, 2018

[pib] Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level:  The newscard talks about addressing the issue of Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.


  1. There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams.
  2. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern
  3. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
  4. The draft bill seeks to address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.


  1. It will help all the States and UTs to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams.
  2. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  3. A case in point is the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, which is a perennial flashpoint between the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
  4. The Chennai floods of 2015 due to unusually heavy rain were thought to have been compounded by an unprecedented release of water from the Chembarambakkam dam into the Adyar.

Key Propositions

  1. The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
  2. This provides for the establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  3. The Bill also provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 National Dam Safety Authority

  • It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSO) and the owners of dams for standardization of dam safety-related data and practices;
  • It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and SDSO
  • It shall maintain a national level database of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organizations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;
  • It will also look into unresolved points of issue between two states

State Committee on Dam Safety

  1. It will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.
  2. It further provides that every State shall establish a “State Dam Safety Organisation“, which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geotechnical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.
Jun, 11, 2018

Even small dams have severe impact on river ecology


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nethravati River, Various zones of a Dam

Mains level: Need for EIA of small dams and hydropower project


Study conducted on Nethravati River, K’taka

  1. We often assume that small dams cause less environmental problems than large ones due to low submergence area.
  2. A study on small hydropower projects in India proves that they cause as severe ecological impacts as big dams, including altering fish communities and changing river flows.
  3. Such projects receive financial subsidies — even carbon credits — for being ‘greener’.
  4. To see how green such small dams really are, scientists from organisations including Bengaluru’s Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning (FERAL) compared almost 50 kilometers of river tributaries of the Netravathi river in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.
  5. They studied three zones in detail: above the dam (upstream), in the area between the dam’s wall and the powerhouse, sometimes completely devoid of water (‘de-watered’) and below the powerhouse (downstream).

Outcomes of the Study

  1. Water flow in the dammed sections reduced the stream’s depth and width;
  2. Water in these stretches was also warmer due to low depth
  3. These rivers had lower dissolved oxygen levels
  4. These changes were most evident in the ‘de-watered’ zones and worsened in the dry seasons.

Habitat quality is worst hit

  1. This decrease in habitat quantity and quality showed in fish diversity too.
  2. The team found that un-dammed stretches recorded a higher diversity of fish species, including endemics (species seen only in the Western Ghats).
  3. The upstream and downstream stretches get disconnected and this impedes the river.

Need for EIA

  1. Such small hydro-projects cropping up on rivers in the Ghats is a serious worry especially because they do not require environmental impact assessments.
  2. It is not a question of small versus big dams; Small dams are not necessarily bad if there are proper regulations in place.
  3. Regulations could include limiting the number of dams in a river basin or maintaining a minimum distance between dams on the same river stretch.
Jun, 05, 2018

[op-ed snap] To be an environmental world power


Mains Paper 3: Disaster and disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Attached story is full of small facts to be noted at a glance

Mains level: The newscard critically examines India’s role in mitigating impacts of climate change.


Cross-border environmentalism is crucial for South Asia, but India is not inclined to take the lead

  1. Ecological ruin is on a gallop across South Asia, with life and livelihood of nearly a quarter of the world’s population affected.
  2. Yet, our polities are able to neither fathom nor address the degradation.
  3. The distress is paramount in the northern half of the subcontinent, roping in the swathe from the Brahmaputra basin to the Indus-Ganga plain.
  4. The erosion of civility in geopolitics keeps South Asian societies apart when people should be joining hands across borders to save our common ground.
  5. Because wildlife, disease vectors, aerosols and river flows do not respect national boundaries, the environmental trends must perforce be discussed at the regional inter-country level.
  6. As the largest nation-state of our region, and the biggest polluter whose population is the most vulnerable, India needs to be alert to the dangerous drift.

China: Doing better

  1. China has been resolutely tackling air pollution and promoting clean energy.
  2. But while Beijing’s centralised governance mandates environmentalism-by-decree, the subcontinental realities demand civic participation for sustainability to work.

Demand for Collaboration

  1. Bihar is helping destroy the Chure/Siwalik range of Nepal to feed the construction industry’s demand for boulders and conglomerate, even though this hurts Bihar itself through greater floods, desertification and aquifer depletion.
  2. Wildlife corridors across States, provinces and countries are becoming constricted by the day, but we look the other way.
  3. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has chosen India to be the ‘host country’ to mark World Environment Day today.
  4. But there is a need for greater participation by India

Rivers into Sewers

  1. In the hills, the Ganga in Uttarakhand and the Teesta of Sikkim are representative of rivers that have been converted into dry boulder tracts by ‘cascades’ of run-of-river hydroelectric schemes.
  2. The same fate now threatens the rivers of Nepal and India’s Northeast, while the tributaries of the Indus were ‘done in’ decades ago through water diversion.
  3. Everywhere, natural drainage is destroyed by highways and railway tracks elevated above the flood line, and bunds encircling towns and cities.
  4. Reduced flows and urban/industrial effluents have converted our great rivers into sewers

Sea-Level Rise

  1. Climate change is introducing massive disturbances to South Asia, most notably from the rise of sea levels.
  2. The entire Indian Ocean coastline will be affected, but the hardest hit will be the densely populated deltas where the Indus, the Irrawaddy and the Ganga-Brahmaputra meet the sea.
  3. To understand this imminent phenomenon, one may recall what the Farakka Barrage did to livelihoods in downstream Bangladesh, causing the flood of ‘undocumented aliens’ in India.

Brown Cloud

  1. The retreat of the Himalayan glaciers is jeopardising the perennial nature of our rivers and climate scientists are now zeroing in on the ‘atmospheric brown cloud’ to explain the excessive melting of snows in the central Himalaya.
  2. This high altitude haze covers the Indo-Gangetic plains for much of the dry season and penetrates deep into the high valleys.
  3. This cloud is made up of ‘black carbon’ containing soot and smog sent up by stubble burning, wood fires, smokestacks and fossil fuel exhaust, as well as dust kicked up by winter agriculture, vehicles and wind.
  4. It rises up over the plains and some of it settles on Himalayan snow and ice, which absorb heat and melt that much faster. It is no longer anecdotal that the icefalls of the Himalaya could before long transform into waterfalls.

Cold Wave  

  1. The ground-hugging fog that engulfs the subcontinent’s northern plains for ever-extended periods in winter, a result of the spread of canal irrigation and simultaneous increase in the presence of particulate matter in the air.
  2. This inattention to the indescribable distress of millions of the poorest and shelter-less of the plains is hard to comprehend.

The Way Forward

  1. Tomorrow’s activists must work to quantify the economic losses of environmental destruction and get local institutions to act on their ownership of natural resources.
  2. The activists must harness information technology so as to engage with the public and to override political frontiers, and they must creatively use the power of the market itself to counter non-sustainable interventions.
  3. Work towards ecological sustainability must go beyond ritual, with the path seeming to lie in the empowerment of local government all over.
  4. Elected representatives in cities and districts must be challenged to emerge as the bulwark of environmentalism even as the provincial and national governments are asked to rise to their regulatory responsibilities.
  5. When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected.
Dec, 22, 2017

What’s darkening Brahmaputra: Landslide, not Chinese machines

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Geography | Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Brahmaputra river and its tributaries

Mains level: Landslides, earthquakes (All details)


No Chinese construction activity

  1. Massive landslides caused by a series of earthquakes in Tibet is darkening the Brahmaputra waters
  2. This report comes amidst apprehensions that contamination may have been caused due to the construction of a dam by China on a tributary of the Brahmaputra

Reason for darkened water

  1. Lab tests have established that the water has darkened due to turbidity typically caused by landslides
  2. The accumulating debris has caused partial blockages at three locations, forming natural dams on 6 km of the river across a 12-km stretch in China
  3. A preliminary study by two researchers from Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) shows that quake-induced landslides on the river continued for over three weeks, which probably explains the prolonged turbidity
  4. The evidence puts to rest fears that dam construction and tunnelling work upstream the Yarlung-Tsangpo in China were responsible for the darkening of Brahmaputra waters

Three natural dams formed

  1. Three natural dams have formed one behind the other
  2. The dams are significantly smaller than the Yigong dam, which led to catastrophic flooding of the Brahmaputra in 2000
  3. The worry for India is that these three dams may merge and eventually give away to result in a deluge downstream

Read background of the news here

Aug, 29, 2017

[op-ed snap] In fact: Many floods, different, yet similar


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Important article for Mains paper 3.



  1. The article talks about the flood situations in various part of the country

Flood in Bengaluru

  1. Recently, four atmospheric systems dumped an unusual amount of rain within the span of 24 hours on Bengaluru
  2. And because stormwater drains could not cope with the downpour, the city got heavily flooded

A Case Study of Bangalore’ (Journal of the National Institute of Disaster Management, April 2009)

  1. According to the Journal, the reason behind the heavy flood was
    (1) lack of drainage upgrade works
    (2) the encroachment and filling in the floodplain on the waterways
    (3) obstruction by the sewer pipes and manholes and relevant structures
    (4) deposits of building materials and solid wastes with subsequent blockage of the system
    (5) also flow restrictions from under-capacity road crossings (bridge and culverts)

Report on Srinagar Floods

  1. After the Srinagar floods of 2014, a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) noted that in the past 100 years, more than 50% of Srinagar’s lakes, ponds and wetlands have been encroached
  2. How: Due to construction of building and roads

Encroachment issues in Mumbai

  1.  Mumbai authorities had virtually forgotten the city’s Mithi river until the catastrophic flooding of July 26, 2005
  2. What was once a flowing river had been blocked at every corner
  3. There were encroachments and constructions on the riverbed and at the point where the river would discharge into the sea

Is it all about Human Intervention?

  1. Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Srinagar, Delhi, Gurgaon, etc. are all examples of human intervention that have rendered a city unfit to deal with a deluge
  2. But floods are also a natural occurrence
  3. In Assam and north Bihar, for example, they happen almost every year
  4. There is, however, a human hand in such floods as well
  5. With increasing deforestation in the Eastern Himalayas, the run-off has increased, and carries along more sediment

The way forward

  1. Unless natural sponges are revived and restored, India’s cities will remain vulnerable to manmade flooding
  2. Especially as climate change makes rainfall patterns increasingly more erratic(unpredictable)
Aug, 16, 2017

[op-ed snap] Living With The Deluge

Image result for floods north east

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

Flood governance: focus should shift from relief measures to building resilience in flood-prone areas” Discuss

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Floods: India’s vulnerability, solutions etc.



  1. Narendra Modi announced a Rs 2,000 crore package for relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the flood-affected states in the Northeast.
  2. Rs 100 crore will be used to set up a high-powered committee that will work on finding permanent solutions to the flood problem
  3. There is a need to shift the focus from flood protection to flood governance.

Reasons for flood


  1. Rivers in the Northeast, originating in the Eastern Himalayas, experience a sharp fall in gradient as they move from Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan to reach Assam’s floodplains.
  2. Rivers carry large amounts of sediments, which then get deposited on the floodplains, reducing the storage capacity of the river channels and resulting in inundation of the adjoining floodplains.


  • Sediment load carried by the rivers is accentuated through “developmental” interventions in the Eastern Himalayas that result in deforestation.

Flood protection methods

  1. Embankments
  2. Dredging rivers and bank strengthening
  3. Storage dams: Its scope is limited in Arunachal Pradesh, given the region’s geology and the ecology.

Flood affected people


  1. Building resilience for the flood affected communities
  2. Water and sanitation issues require attention during the flood months.
  3. Floods are accompanied by outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea. Ensure access to veterinary services.
  4. People in the flood-prone areas in the Northeast, by and large, practice subsistence agriculture.
  5. While the land remains inundated for an extended period in the monsoons, proper irrigation facilities must be provided

Flood governance through resilience building 

  1. Reducing vulnerability
  2. Increasing access to services
  3. Maximising productivity through optimal use of available resource
  4. Community-based advance flood warning systems
  5. Elevated toilets, ecosanitation units — promoted in the flood-prone areas of North Bihar — and elevated dugwells or tubewells with iron filter need to be installed in the Northeast.

Way forward?

  1. Productivity can be maximised by giving people access to cheaper sources of irrigation, research on short duration boro paddy, and innovative agriculture techniques like floating vegetable gardens. 
  2. Scientific fish farming on the waterbodies and the inundated land can ensure that inundation, when it cannot be avoided, is put to optimal use.
  3. Strategic environment assessment of development activities
  4. Strengthening planning authorities like the Brahmaputra Board and flood control departments by staffing them with scientists from a wide range of disciplines is essential
Aug, 03, 2017

What is the impact of floods on India’s GDP?

Image result for urban floods

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

 Mains level: Prepare urban floods, causes, solutions etc.



  1. From Assam in the north-east to Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west, floods are taking a heavy toll on lives and property this year.
  2. As per latest reports, 82 and over 100 flood-related deaths have been recorded in the states of Assam and Gujarat, respectively.

Has flood-related damage increased in India over time?

  1. Flood-related loss of both human and cattle lives and economic damages have come down over time.
  2. However, there has been a significant change in the nature of flood-related losses in India.

What changes?

  1. Central Water Commission (CWC) gives detailed estimates of economic loss and loss of human and cattle lives due to floods from 1953-2016
  2. The 1970s was the worst decade in terms of loss human and cattle lives due to floods in India. These losses have come down since then.
  3. Although absolute economic losses have been increasing, the relative economic damage has come down

Flood related losses?

  1. Floods resulted in loss of 86% of the total GDP in the 1970s and 1980s.
  2. In the present decade, this share has come down to 1% of the GDP.
  3. Until the 1970s, damage to crops was the biggest component of economic loss due to floods. Over time, damage to public utilities has acquired the biggest share in flood-related losses.
  4. A 2015 World Resources Institute study had shown that expanding cities and worsening climate challenges can significantly increase flood-related risks in India. 
Aug, 01, 2017

[op-ed snap] Washed out: On the floods in eastern and western India

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

Q.) “Protocols followed by State governments to deal with floods need an urgent review.” Comment.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the NDRF

Mains Level: The article gives important suggestions for disaster management.



  1. In the article, the writer talks about the recent floods in eastern and western India and give some suggestions for better disaster management

What we need to counter these situations?

  1. At least 600 people are dead and thousands of people are displaced due to recent floods in eastern and western India
  2. To deal with such frequent, destructive weather events we need a massive capacity-building programme

What people need from government?

  1. There are many actions people need on the ground
    (1) short-term housing
    (2) food and safe water
    (3) access to health care and protection for women, children and the elderly

Problem in using disaster relief funds

  1. Some States have not been able to use disaster relief funds as intended
  2. And the Centre has asked them to set off the unutilised portion when making fresh claims

How to mitigate damage?

  1. A review of the deployment of National Disaster Response Force teams near waterbodies is needed
  2. The experience NDRF together with data compiled by the Central Water Commission can reveal the hotspots where better management can mitigate damage

The way forward

  1. Governments cannot expect that people with good incomes will take calamitous losses, with neither social support nor financial instruments available to rebuild lives
  2. A vigorous monsoon is vital for the economy, but governments should be prepared to deal with the consequences of excess rainfall
Dec, 02, 2016

Cyclone Nada turns a damp squib

  1. What: Cyclone Nada, a cyclonic storm weakened into a deep depression and is now expected to cross the Tamil Nadu coast early Friday morning south of Cuddalore.
  2. Context: The cyclone was expected to bring the much needed rain to the Tamil Nadu coast after an extremely poor northeast monsoon season.
  3. Despite not living up to its billing, the rainfall has raised hopes of samba paddy farmers in certain parts of the delta districts.


Need for regional forecast centres

  1. There’s the need to revisit our forecast models, and fine tune model parameters.
  2. We need more focused regional forecasts, for corrective action both on the ground and in policy.
  3. Regionally-focused rainfall forecasts can boost the market for weather futures here.


Chennai is increasingly facing the threat of a water shortage in the wake of a poor North-east monsoon season. Read up on the phenomenon of north-east monsoon and why it was below average this season.

Nov, 04, 2016

PM Modi outlines agenda for disaster risk reduction II

  1. Other suggestions: all development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management
  2. Encourage involvement and leadership of women as they are the biggest sufferers of any disaster
  3. Risk mapping globally, leveraging of technology to enhance the efficiency of the disaster risk management efforts
  4. And utilising the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies
  5. PM Modi said a fully functional Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System has become operational and along with its Australian and Indonesian counterparts
  6. Furthermore, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services is mandated to issue regional tsunami bulletins
Nov, 04, 2016

PM Modi outlines agenda for disaster risk reduction I

  1. Source: Speech by PM Modi
  2. Event: Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR)
  3. He outlined a 10-point agenda for renewing efforts for disaster risk reduction and stressed on encouraging involvement of women volunteers
  4. He also sought greater cohesion in international response to deal with all kinds of calamities
  5. He emphasised on working towards risk coverage for all, starting from poor households to small and medium enterprises and MNC’s to nation states
Oct, 20, 2016

India invites Pak. to disaster risk reduction meet

  1. Event: The Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction to be held from November 3 to 5
  2. The conference is a step towards establishing India’s supremacy in the region in effectively handling disasters
  3. 61 countries have been invited, and 38 have so far confirmed their participation
  4. India has invited Pakistan, but Pakistan is yet to confirm its participation
Aug, 24, 2016

5.5-magnitude earthquake jolts Northeast

  1. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Myanmar and regions across the India-Myanmar border felt the tremors
  2. It occurred at 0741 hrs and there are no immediate reports of any casualties
Aug, 22, 2016

Don't blame nature, bolster disaster preparedness: parliamentary panel- II

  1. Co-ordinate: The administration of both centre and state should work together and remain vigilant to tackle the situation
  2. Challenge: Mitigation efforts are largely a state subject and Government of India can assist to the extent possible through various central government schemes
  3. Procedures: National Disaster Management Authority and all concerned bodies of central and state governments should have established procedures so that vital time is not lost in wriggling out procedural delays
  4. Urban floods: Since these are taking place in cities like Mumbai, Surat, Srinagar and Chennai, these indicate that the problem may further escalate in future
  5. Therefore, the guidelines prepared by NDMA should be scrupulously followed
  6. Review: Town planning of each city by giving due importance to clear flood channels, proper drainage, safe passage to excess water in lakes, other water bodies, de-siltation of river bed, removal of illegal encroachment
Aug, 22, 2016

Don't blame nature, bolster disaster preparedness: parliamentary panel- I

  1. Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs’ report on ‘Disaster in Chennai caused by torrential rainfall and consequent flooding’
  2. Background: Devastating floods submerged Chennai and its neighbouring areas in November-December 2015 claiming the lives of over 400 people
  3. Recommendations: Ministry of Home Affairs, through its subordinate concerned agencies, should bolster its disaster preparedness
  4. Rejected the contention that there cannot be preparation for a disaster like the Chennai floods which occurs once in 100 years as the cost of preparation would be disproportionately high
  5. Assessment: Separate action should be taken to prepare calamity map of all important cities by developing standard vulnerability indices so as to minimise loss of life, loss of private and public property and vital installations
Jul, 04, 2016

NDRF trains one lakh people

  1. News: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has trained over a lakh people across the country in one month
  2. Aim: To ensure resilience and better preparedness against disasters
  3. Also to teach the do’s and don’ts during man-made or natural emergencies
  4. NDRF is a full deputationist organisation which draws its manpower from central paramilitary forces and works under the Union Home Ministry
  5. NDRF’s 12 battalions are stationed at strategic locations in the country aided by 23 regional response centres in other cities
Jun, 24, 2016

Bhopal victims file appeal against Union Carbide

  1. News: Bhopal poison gas disaster victims have filed an appeal against Union Carbide Company (UCC) alleging pollution of drinking water
  2. Allegation: The water pollution is due to the continued leakage of toxic material to local wells from the UCC plant since it was shut down
  3. Background: In December 1984, methyl isocyanate, a poisonous gas leaked from UCC’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands
  4. Federal appeals court had earlier dismissed the lawsuit regarding water pollution- the victims are urging the court to reconsider the dismissal
May, 18, 2016

What are the steps taken towards management of cyclone?

  1. Context: Forecast of the depression in the Bay of Bengal intensifying into a deep depression
  2. The Nagapattinam district administration has issued a cyclone warning
  3. Many precautionary measures have been launched
  4. Cyclone shelters are being readied
  5. Steps are put in place to clear potentially water logging areas in the district
  6. Temporary shelters have been identified to relocate people in times of need
  7. Cyclone Warning No. 3 has been hoisted at the Nagapattinam Harbour to alert the region about the impending danger
May, 18, 2016

Low pressure in Bay of Bengal dumps heavy rain in Nagapattinam district

  1. Context: Forecast of the depression in the Bay of Bengal intensifying into a deep depression
  2. Under its influence, the Cauvery delta districts, especially the coastal regions of the area are experiencing heavy and widespread rain over the past two days
  3. It is a fishing ban period as the seas would be rough and choppy
May, 07, 2016

Unexpected rain batters State, A.P.

  1. Context: A.P. gets relief from heat due to unexpected rainfall
  2. Heavy downpour with thunder and lightning
  3. Power supply disrupted
  4. Damage: Knocked down trees and electric poles
  5. Also, damaging of standing crops and fruits
  6. Paddy damage, which was ready to reach market
May, 02, 2016

Rainwater linked to earthquake triggers: Study

  1. Context: Researcher identified that rainwater plays an important role to promote earthquakes
  2. Analysis taken at the Alpine fault where Pacific and Australian plates collide
  3. It shows that fluid from mantle and fluid from rainwater are channelled up the Alpine fault
  4. These fluids can weaken the fault zone by increasing the pressure
Feb, 29, 2016

Ensure minimum standards of relief to disaster victims: Supreme Court

  1. Context: The havoc and humanitarian crisis caused by natural disasters shows that much is to be done to ensure that disaster victims access even minimum standards of relief
  2. Background: The National Disaster Management Act (NDMA) was enacted in 2005
  3. According to the Sec 12 of the Act, it is mandated to provide ‘Minimum Standards of Relief’ in disaster-hit areas
  4. News: SC ordered states to complete the framing of guidelines to provide ‘Minimum Standards of Relief’ mandated under Sec 12 of the Act
  5. It made a remark that providing minimum standards of relief under the NDMA is a fundamental duty of the State
  6. Criticism: There is a lack of concerted effort by the States in order to provide essential services such as shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover and sanitation at relief camps for disaster victims
Feb, 27, 2016

India dispatches relief material to cyclone hit Fiji

  1. Context: As part of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts in the neighbourhood
  2. Dispatched relief material to the island nation includes food, medicines and tents
  3. Relevance: Fiji was hit by a massive cyclone ‘Winston’ last week. The island nation had also requested foreign aid
  4. Aid: India has already announced aid in the aftermath of the disaster. It extended USD one million in immediate assistance to Fiji after devastating Cyclone Winston hits
  5. Background: Cyclone Winston was the most powerful tempest recorded in the southern hemisphere
  6. This hit Fiji at speeds of 200 miles per hour, causing extensive flooding and rendering thousands homeless
Feb, 10, 2016

Google to offer flood alerts for India

Google will make public emergency alerts for floods available in India as part its efforts to make critical information more accessible around natural disasters.

  1. India can now find ‘flood alerts’ along with ‘river level’ information for more than 170 areas in which the Central Water Commission (CWC) has active observation stations
  2. These alerts are available on web search, Google Now Cards on the Google app, maps as well as Google Public Alerts homepage
  3. The alerts will be created and shared using data provided by the CWC
  4. Timely information is the first step in disaster preparedness and has the potential to save thousands of lives lost to natural disasters each year
  5. In 2015, Google introduced ‘cyclone alerts’, which offers information with details about the hazard, including a map and expected timeline, as well as tips on how to stay safe
Jan, 30, 2016

IMD to issue block-level forecasts soon

  1. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will begin to issue weather forecasts at the block level later this year,
  2. Through this farmers could be warned, 3-5 days ahead, of potentially anomalous weather in their localities.
  3. The IMD currently issues such short-term forecasts in 100 districts across States and so-called agro-climatic zones.
  4. Reason- Weather can vary quite significantly within a district.
  5. However, the predictability of the weather models for block-level forecasts needs to improve.
Dec, 22, 2015

NDRF seeks its own air wing

  1. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is seeking its own dedicated aviation wing, drawing from its experience in recent disasters.
  2. This will help in making NDRF an effective pan-India force capable of responding even before a calamity strikes.
  3. It is also looking at increasing its manpower in a phased manner to 20 battalions from its present 12.
Dec, 08, 2015

The Prime Minister has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 2 lakh

The relief has been announced from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund(PMNRF) for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the floods.

  1. An ex-gratia relief of Rs. 50,000 for those who were seriously injured in the recent Tamil Nadu floods.
  2. 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.
  3. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, etc.

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in Jan, 1948, PMNRF was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan.

Dec, 04, 2015

Amritdhara – a mobile RO plant to quench Chennai’s thirst

As Chennai is flooded, there is a scarcity of drinking water. In such a situation, the mobile RO unit is expected to be a boon.

  1. A 20,000 litre capacity truck-mounted mobile unit from Bengaluru.
  2. It will take flood water from streets and convert it into potable water, using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology.
  3. A group of volunteers have created a website, bangaloreforchennai.com – where help has been pouring in from various quarters.
  4. Some Bangaloreans have turned virtual volunteers on social media platforms.
Nov, 28, 2015

South Asian disaster management exercise

  1. The I South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) – 2015 was recently inaugurated.
  2. The exercise provides a platform for strengthening regional disaster response mechanism amongst the Saarc countries.
  3. The delegation from 8 Saarc Nations is participating in a exercise being conducted by the National Disaster Response Force.
  4. Focus – To test coordination efforts, create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalise regional cooperation on disaster response among the member countries.
Nov, 19, 2015

UN confers Kiren Rijiju with Disaster Risk Reduction Asia Champion honour

  1. He has been designated for Asia Region by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  2. The honour was conferred at inaugural session of the Asia Leaders’ Meeting towards Implementation of Sendai Framework for DRR in Asia.
  3. Rijiju is the first regional champion for DRR after the Sendai Agreement.
  4. He is also the first Indian to be conferred with this honour.
Oct, 27, 2015

Tsunami early Warning system successfully tested in Mumbai

Siren system installed at the Meteorology Office of Western Naval Command by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)

  1. Newly-installed Tsunami Early Warning System Siren was successfully tested near INS Angre in south Mumbai.
  2. It tested nearly 11 years after the Boxing Day tsunami which had hit the east coast of India and had killed more than 10,000 people.
  3. It has a digital electronic board fitted in the system which gives out data about the approaching tsunami.
  4. The system has a radical range of 3 kms in all directions and gives continuous hoot for 60 seconds during emergency.
  5. INCOIS is an autonomous organization of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

INCOIS is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services through sustained ocean observations and constant improvements through systematic and focussed research.

Oct, 26, 2015

NDRF ties up with 30 PSUs to tackle disasters

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) partnered with 30 Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to jointly tackle and mitigate man-made or natural disasters or emergencies.

  1. The first of its kind initiative aimed to ensure efforts for building a good synergy between the government organisations.
  2. NDRF has proposed to train personnel of these PSUs by extending its skill modules for tackling disasters.
  3. NDRF is India’s elite disaster mitigation combat force established under Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  4. It functions under the aegis of Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  5. It undertakes relief and rescue operations in the case of an event of any disaster (natural or man-made), accident or emergency.
  • Subscribe

    Do not miss important study material

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of