NATIONAL DAY FOR DISASTER REDUCTION
(11 October 2000)
Considering the serious impact of natural disasters over the world economy, particularly of the developing countries, the United Nations observed the nineties (1990-99) as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). The objective of the decade was to focus on international initiatives for reducing the occurrence and minimising of adverse impact of natural calamities. The second Wednesday of every October during the decade was also observed as the World Disaster Reduction Day on a chosen theme. As a part of the worldwide efforts, India also participated in the activities aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters during the nineties.
Keeping in mind the size of our country and its vulnerability to many natural disasters, it is necessary to maintain the tempo of activities initiated during the nineties to minimize the impact of natural disasters. This should be done through vigorous implementation of disaster reduction programmes involving agencies in the governmental, non-governmental sector, private sector and the communities at large.
The Government of India has decided to continue observing the disaster reduction day in the country to maintain the tempo of awareness all over the country. The day is to be observed on second Wednesday of October every year. This year, the National Day for Disaster Reduction (NDDR) will be observed on 11 October, with the theme of 'Community Participation and Public Awareness'. Various activities like exhibitions, conferences, seminars, etc. have been planned at the Central, State, District and community level.
As an important part of this event, in collaboration with National Centre for Disaster Management, the Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions is organising a National Conference and Exhibition on Disaster Reduction on 11-12 October 2000 with the theme Community Participation and Public Awareness. The objective of the conference is to discuss the present scenario of disaster preparedness in India, to increase the awareness by dissemination of knowledge and information to the community and the administration.
Disasters in India - An overview
The Indian subcontinent is vulnerable to drought, floods, cyclones and earthquakes, although landslides, avalanche and forest fire too frequently occur in the Himalayan region of northern India. Among the 32 States/Union Territories in the country, 22 are multi-disaster prone.
Among all the disasters that occur in the country, river floods are the most frequent and often the most devastating. As much as 40 million hectare of land in the country has been identified as flood prone. An average of 18.6 million hectare of land is flooded annually. Floods are caused mainly in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin, which carry 60 per cent of the nation's total river flow.
Earthquakes are considered to be one of the most dangerous and destructive natural hazards. About 57 per cent of the total area of the country is vulnerable to seismic activity of varying intensities. Most of the vulnerable areas are generally located in Himalayan and sub-Himalayan region and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Drought is perennial feature in some States of India. Eighteen per cent of the country's total area is drought prone. Approximately 50 million people are annually affected by drought and about 68 per cent of the total sown area of the country is also drought prone.
India has a very long coastline of 8040 km, which is exposed to tropical cyclones arising in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in the ratio of 4:1. The Indian Ocean is one of the six major cyclone prone regions of the world. The Coromandal coastline is more prone, about 80 per cent of the total cyclones generated in the region hit this area.
Hence, an integrated approach is required for disaster reduction, preparedness and prevention. Disaster reduction is a systematic and long work which involves different regions, professionals, scientific organisations and above all the community. It is almost impossible to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters and their damages totally. However, it is possible to reduce the impact of disasters by adopting suitable disaster mitigation strategies and by appropriate intervention.