End of course project
Submitted by Tapan Patel
1. Background Information
India is a democratic republic having federal structure consisting of 29 states and 6 Union
Territories. It is the largest democracy where powers and responsibilities for governance are
shared between Central and State Governments. At district level, Zila Parishad and at local level
Panchayats are the forms of self governments. India exhibits striking contrasts with enormous
ethnic and socio cultural diversities. There is considerable difference in population densities
between the sates, their pattern of development and other socio-economic and demographic
The geological, broadly following the physical features of the country may be grouped into three
parts: the Himalayas and their associated group of mountains, the Indo Gigantic Plains and the
Peninsular shield. India has wide range of soils. Two important soil types from point of view of
Agriculture are alluvial and black cotton soils. Climatically, India is a tropical country but due to
great attitudinal variations, almost all climatic conditions exist in India. It can be broadly
described as being mostly tropical, tropical monsoon and temperate climates. The south west or
summer monsoon is responsible for 80% of total precipitation in India. Average rainfall of the
country is 1200mm/ year but it varies from about 300mm in western Rajasthan to 2000mm in
North Eastern states.
Agriculture contributes around 30% of GDP to form major portion of Indian Economy. India
supports approximately 16% of worlds population with only 2.5% of worlds geographical area.
Population density varies from 43 per sq.km in Andaman and Nicbar Islands to over 650 per
sq.km in Kerala.
Due to its geographical position, climate and geological setting, India is among the top 10
countries in term of life loss due to natural disasters every year. As per the World Disaster Report
2002, during last two decades (1982-2001), around 107813 people were killed due to disasters
(on an average 5340 people per year) in the country.
The country is highly vulnerable to droughts, floods, cyclones, avalanches, forest fires and land
slides. Out of 35 states/UT, 27 are disaster prone. This sub continent is amongst the world’s most
disaster prone areas with more than 55% of land vulnerable to earthquake, 8% area prone to
cyclones, 5% vulnerable to flood and 50% forest cover prone to fire. More over large population
in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh face recurring droughts.
In recent past the frequency of natural disasters in India has increased drastically. Tsunami in
South India, floods in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, earthquake of Gujarat,
Chamoli, jabalpur and Latur, landslides in Garhwal and Kumaon, cyclones in Orissa,
AndhraPradesh and Gujarat, tornadoes in Balasore and Midnapore, droughts in Rajasthan etc are
the examples of recent catastrophes in India.
Gujarat lies in the western part of the country with population close to 50 Million (5 Crore). Most
of the parts of Gujarat including North and Central Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra come under
semi arid to arid climatic zone. The worst drought accounted were of 1986-87 and 1999-2000
Erratic and scanty rainfall results in recurring droughts in the region. Kutch and parts of North
Gujarat also fall under Zone V of seismic severity, while major parts of Gujarat including
Ahmedabad fall under Zone III – posing moderate threat of earthquake in this region. Devastating
earthquake of 2001 was one of the worst disasters in the history of Gujarat and even India. This
earthquake claimed more than 13000 lives and damaged more than three million houses. Gujarat
also has the longest coastline of 1600Km in India, making the coastal belt and Kutch region
vulnerable to cyclones also. In 1998 cyclone devastated Kandla Port (second largest in the
country) and lead to loss of hundreds of lives. Gujarat also faced worst epidemic of recent past
when much hyped and so called Plague broke out in Surat in 1994. Though there were only 54
deaths in the city due to plague, but it created unprecedented havoc nationally and internationally.
Almost 75% of population (then population of 23Lacs) including doctors; fled from the city.
Damage to business and image of the country was hard to estimate.
Gujarat is not characterized by frequent and disastrous floods. Though many devastating floods
have perished thousands of people and huge loss of property in the history of Gujarat. Disaster of
Machchu Dam burst in 1978, frequent floods in Narmada and Tapi before late sixties, deluge in
Ahmedabad in 2000 and flash floods of 1998, 2004 and 2005 in South and Central Gujarat are
some of the examples of Gujarat’s Vulnerability to floods and deluge.
Thus Gujarat has witnessed an array of disasters over last decades. As if they were not enough,
the manmade disasters of riots in 1992 and 2002 added to the agony of people of Gujarat.
Annual Damage due to disasters
Year Number of people Number of Amount of Property
affected (in crores0 buildings/houses damage (Rs. In
partially or totally crore)
1990 3.17 1019930 171.0
1991 3.477 1190109 190.0
1992 1.909 570969 205.0
1993 2.624 1529916 580.0
1994 2.353 1051223 183.0
1995 5.435 2088355 473.0
1996 5.499 2376693 543.0
1997 4.438 1103549 NA
1998 5.217 1563405 NA
1999 5.017 3104064 NA
2000 4.162 2736355 1020.9
2001 7.882 846878 12000
Source: Ministry of Agriculture
India’s Disaster Vulnerability
State/ UT Drought Flood Cyclone Earthquake Total
Andhra Pradesh Yes Yes Yes 3
Arunachal Pradesh Yes Yes 2
Assam Yes Yes 2
Bihar Yes Yes Yes 3
Chhatisgarh Yes 1
Gujarat Yes Yes Yes 3
Haryana Yes 1
Himachal Pradesh Yes Yes 2
Jammu & Kashmir Yes Yes 2
Jharkhand Yes 1
Karnataka Yes 1
Madhya Pradesh Yes Yes 2
Maharashtra Yes Yes Yes 3
Manipur Yes Yes 2
State/ UT Drought Flood Cyclone Earthquake Total
Meghalaya Yes Yes 2
Mizoram Yes Yes 2
Nagaland Yes Yes 2
Orissa Yes Yes Yes 3
Punjab Yes Yes Yes 3
Rajasthan Yes 1
Sikkim Yes Yes 2
Tamilnadu Yes Yes 2
Tripura Yes Yes 2
Uttar Pradesh Yes Yes Yes 3
Uttranchal Yes Yes 2
West Bengal Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Andaman & Nicobar Yes Yes Yes 3
Total 14 19 6 16
(Source; Indu Prakash, Disaster Management)
2) Brief description of the selected disaster event
Deluge in Surat city in 2004-05
Surat is an industrial center of Gujarat located on banks of river Tapi in south Gujarat. It is
second biggest city of Gujarat and commerce capital with booming textile and diamond industry.
The average rainfall in the district is around 1000mm yearly. South Gujarat is the only water
surplus region of Gujarat. Floods in river Tapi were routine phenomenon before construction of
Ukai dam in late sixties. There were two noticeable floods in last decade in 1994 and 1998 in the
city. However these were due to heavy rainfall in the upstream areas of MadhyaPradesh which
brough floods in the river. But 2004 came a s surprise when Surat witnessed widespread deluge
without floods in the Tapi river.
Since last two years (2004- 2005), Surat has witnessed unprecedented deluge in areas particularly
in vicinity of the (in)famous Khaadi or a natural drain stream passing through the city. These
areas are not designated as low lying, as they are not much affected by floods in river Tapi.
However from August 1 to August 5 2004, the major parts of city were in crisis with inundation
of 4-10feet of water. It affected nearly 4 lac people living in the societies and slums near the
drains. The houses, shops and roads were deluged in 4 feet to 10 feet water for almost three days.
Infrastructure and services like electricity, communication lines, water supply lines, drainage and
roads were badly hit. Gujarat Electricity Board substation of Udhna was completely submerged
resulting to power failure in the area for five days. Water supply lines and drainage lines were
disrupted for a week. Udhna, Pandesara, Unn, Dindoli, Bhatar, Magdalla, Althan, Varachha and
other areas were inaccessible for two days. The current in the drain was so strong that it carried
away bikes, hand carts and trees with it. Not even boats of fire brigade and army were able to
access some of the areas where people were strangled badly. Food supply was badly hit.
Essentials like food packets, water pouches etc were to be air dropped by helicopters. All the
families residing on the ground floor of the society had to take shelter on upper floors. Slum
dwellers too refuge in government schools. Major evacuation had to be done by administration
for those who were stuck in low lying areas. The stinking odour of decayed food materials and
wastewater after the water receded was unbearable.
An estimated loss of property was around 100 crores. As Surat is a major industrial center with
booming textile and diamond markets, the loss of business was colossal.
The main reason for the deluge was that the stream could not drain off the heavy down pore in the
upstream areas and resulted a deluge in city (downstream). The deluge covered the areas which
were never affected in floods in Tapi river. These areas were not in particularly the low lying
areas but were in the vicinity of the stream. 2004 was the first incident of widespread deluge due
to stream running across the city. Mindless construction over the drains and efforts to reclaim the
land of the drain resulted in deluge surrounding the areas of this drain in 2004. Epidemic was the
major concern after receding of the water from low lying areas, but fortunately with great efforts
from corporation and people there was no major out break of epidemic in 2004.
Cash doles were given by administration and relief materials to poor families were given by Ngos
and CBOs after these flash floods
3) Overview of the National Disaster Management System
Keeping in view the new developments and initiatives, the disaster management setup in India is
trying to orient itself towards a strong focus on preventive approaches, mainly through
administrative reforms and participatory methods. Preparedness measures such as training of role
players including the community, development of advanced forecasting system, effective
communication, and above all a sound and well networked institutional structure involving the
government organizations, academic and research institutions, the armed forces and the non
governmental organizations have greatly contributed to the overall disaster management in the
country. Identification of vulnerable communities, integrating disaster prevention into habitat
planning and developing a culture of prevention are new emerging approaches for disaster
management and has been propagated by High Powered Committee on Disaster Management.
The Government of India, after the Gujarat Earthquake has established a National Committee on
Disaster management (NCDM) – now called National Institute of Disaster Management under
ministry of Home Affairs, headed by the Prime Minister, to provide a forum to political parties to
share and discuss the issues related to disaster management and mitigation. This committee is
supposed to suggest the institutional and legislative measures to strengthen the existing disaster
management structure of the country. The Planning Commission has incorporated, for the first
time, disaster management as one of its areas of concern. A chapter titled ‘Disaster Management-
The Development Perspective” has been included in the Tenth Plan document to make whole
gamut of planning process sensitive to various dimensions of disaster management. The Tenth
Plan also addresses the community based disaster preparedness and management by the way of
strengthening and capacity building of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies
(ULBs). A special mention has been made about the role of youth in disaster management, not
only through educational institutions but through youth movements like Nehru Yuvak Kendra
Sangathan (NYKS), National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), Bharat Scout
and Guides (BS &G), etc.
Institutional arrangements for Disaster Management- India
Central Government plays a key role for providing financial and logistic support in case of major
disasters and coordinates the effort of Central Ministries/ Departments/ Organisations. Cabinet
Committee on Natural Calamities is placed at apex level. The scope of the Committee has also
been enlarged so as to address mitigation and preparedness measures also.
National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) headed by Cabinet Secretary gives direction to
Crisis Management Group (CMG), Ministries and Departments for specific action needed in
mitigating the crisis situation.
CMG, chaired by Central relief Commissioner annually review contingency plans formulated by
various ministries/departments/organizations in their respective sector coordinates activities of
Central Ministries and State Government in relation to disaster preparedness and relief and
obtains information from nodal officers. In event of disaster, CMG meets frequently to review
relief operations and extend assistance to the affected. State.
It is proposed to create Disaster/ Emergency Management Authorities at State and National level
with representatives of relevant Ministries/Departments and experts to have a multidisciplinary
The states have been asked to set upto Disaster Management Authorities under the Chief
Ministers with Ministers of relevant Departments as members. 11 States and UTs – Tamilnadu,
Arunachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Orissa, Gujarat, Kerala, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Delhi, A&N
administration and Chandigarh administration have notified the authority.
At the state level, the work of post calamity relief was being handled by the Departments of
Relief and Rehabilitation. The Government of India is working with the State Governments to
restructure the Departments of Relief and Rehabilitation into Departments of Disaster
Management with an enhanced responsibility to include mitigation and preparedness along with
relief and rehabilitation.
The states have been advised to restructure the officers/staff within the department with definite
functions to pursue holistic approach to disaster management. The four functional groups to be
assigned with specific tasks are
Functional Group 1: Hazard Mitigation
Functional Group 2: Preparedness and Capacity Building
Functional Group 3: Relief and Response
Functional Group 4: Administration and Finance
At the district level, the District Magistrate who is the chief coordinator will be focal point for
coordinating all activities relating to prevention, mitigation and preparedness apart from his
existing responsibilities pertaining to relief and response. The District Coordination and Relief
Committee is being reconstituted/ re-designated into Disaster Management Committees with
officers from relevant departments being added as members. District Disaster Management
Committees have been constituted in 256 districts.
Block/ Taluka/ Tehsil Level
Similarly, Sub divisional Disaster Management Committees are being constituted. At village
levels such committees and teams will help drawing Disaster Preparedness Plan along with youth
organizations, CBOs and NGOs.
Role of Armed Forces
In a disaster situation or an emergency, armed forces are looked upon for the immediate rescue
operation and maintaining law and order in the region. India has not been able to develop a
separate trained and specialized indigenous groups or teams for rescue operations in case of
natural hazards. Though some of the efforts have been made by Central government and some of
the state governments to prepare a trained group for such operations, but these are too little to
carryout such a specialized job. In case of Gujarat earthquake we have witnessed the expertise
and efficiency of foreign rescue teams which are far more and better equipped than their Indian
Role of Local Community
Local communities are the first to respond in case of disasters. Locales are the first persons for
rescue of people trapped in a disastrous situation. Hence community based disaster preparedness
and developing a culture of disaster preparedness will have far reaching implications on disaster
Role of NGOs
NGOs play vital role in coping with disasters. They enhance the outreach for relief and rescue
immediately after the disaster. They also play crucial role in rehabilitation ensuring participatory
methods, community well being and acting as a bridge between the community and the
government. In recent years, role of NGOs have become even more proactive and articulate.
NGOs have been given decisive roles in some of the government relief schemes ensuring more
transparency and effectiveness of the programmes. They are now playing the roles as partners in
development and not seen as mere activists to oppose the government.
4) Strengths and weaknesses of the system in light of the catastrophic event
1. Panchayati Raj: According to 73rd Constitutional Amendment Panchayat has been given
financial and administrative powers to control the emergency situation. This ensures quick
decision and help to the worst hit communities.
2. Strong Independent Media: Media and NGOs play an active role in bringing crucial issues
like corruption, inefficiency of government systems and concerns of communities to the
3. Communication: Improved communication systems helps in disseminating the information
quickly. Set up of state wide network, use of internet, networking all district offices with state
capital, e governance initiatives and extensive use of mobile phones have helped in quick and
better communication and coordination.
4. Administrative set up: Clear line of information and orders.
5. Funds: with improved economic condition in the country, we have large pool of reserves to
cop with huge disasters. A recent rejection of international aid for Tsunami relief is the sign of
self confidence and sufficient funds for natural calamities. Multi level funding by Centre and the
State also helps.
6. NGOs: There is a conducive environment for NGOs to work independently in the country.
Many development programmes focus on promotion of CBOs and youth clubs which can
contribute to development as well as disaster management at grass root level. After Gujarat
Earthquake, there were around 200 NGOs working in the region, while in event of Tsunami,
Andaman and Nicobar Island received aids from more than 50 NGOs.
1. Too bureaucratic and long process: As a democracy, we cannot by pass the bureaucracy. The
time taken in decision making and passing the needed aid to the disaster victims sometimes takes
too much time and proves fatal for the victims.
2. Lack of coordination between different government agencies: even in the disaster situation,
we can see the lack of coordination between the government agencies. This results in duplication
of efforts and wastage of money.
3. No Standard Operating Procedure or trigger mechanism: there is total chaos everywhere
when a disaster strikes. Government does not have a standard procedure to take control of the
situation and manage the chaos.
4. Many states yet to set up a nodal agency for disaster management: There is a central apex
body in place for disaster management and the states are suggested to for a nodal agency for
disaster management. But except few states like Orissa and Gujarat, no other states have
constituted the authority for disaster management. Maharashtra is now gearing up for the
formation of authority after recent deluge in Mumbai.
5. Corruption: it is cancer to any system and has spread in each and every corner of the society.
Corruption reduces the effectiveness of any relief and rehab operations and induces stress, anger,
dissentient, violence and exploitation in the society.
6. Lack of participatory disaster management plans: most of the times disaster management
plans or rehabilitation plans are made in central offices with no stake of community for which the
plans are intended. This results in inconsistency with the need, culture and living habits of the
community and ends up as a failed plan. There are many such instances in Gujarat and Latur after
the earthquake. We haven’t learned from the big disasters too. Lack of participatory approach kas
also led to discontent of the locales in Andaman and Nicobar after Government came up with
designs of intermediate shelters.
7. Disaster management not a part of planning: Till recently, disaster management was not a
part of any development plans or schemes by the government. It is only in Tenth Plan that
Planning commission have incorporated disaster management as a part of planning process.
8. Faulty land use planning in rural and urban areas: A major factor for any loss of life or
property in an event of disaster is the faulty land use planning. This is evident by mindless
construction in catchment areas of the river, on the drainage streams, village ponds etc.
Deforestations has also led to potential disasters. Recent deluge in Surat and Mumbai are the
glaring examples of faulty land use planning. Redundant village ponds in Rajasthan tells the story
about devastated catchments by construction activities resulting in severe scarcity of water in
already water stressed region. The awful conditions of lakes of Udaipur (City of Lakes) and many
other urban centers across country, is also result of faulty land use planning. Non confirmation of
coastal area regulations, residential colonies near industries, habitat in potential flood areas near
rivers are at risk of potential hazard.
9. Low technology use and lack of skilled personnel: India is still confronting with low
technology, less research and lack of experts in disaster management field. Disaster management
has yet not found place in secondary education. The specialization courses are also not
comprehensive (mostly correspondence courses) to produce experts in the field.
5) Recommendations for Improvement
1. Capacity building and strengthening of institutional arrangements at all levels to address
risk reduction as an ongoing function, including disaster reduction related legislation,
covering land use regulation, building codes and reinforced links to environmental
protection. Capacity building at State level needs to include development of an integrated
disaster risk management plan that covers areas of risk assessment, early warning
systems, training programmes, as well as emergency response management, recovery
resources, including strengthening of CBOs. It also includes the increased capacity and
sectoral synergies for sustainable management of forest and water resources.
2. Development of public educational programmes and campaigns on the relationships
between sustainable development, natural hazards, vulnerabilities and disaster to enhance
disaster reduction measures. The process starts in schools with educational programmes
including curricula revision, teachers training and development of resource centers. It
needs to expand to all levels of society by training efforts, with special emphasis on
professionals and community leaders.
3. Creating and implementing comprehensive urban development strategies and land use
plans, which provide a number of opportunities to mitigate the damages caused by
hazards. As location is the key factor, which determines the level of risk associated with
hazard, land use plans and mapping should be used as tools to identify the most suitable
usage of vulnerable areas (e.g. location of buildings, roads, power plants, storage of
fuels). Local governments need to play an increasing role with regard to factors such as
building standards, land and property markets, land and housing taxation, planning
processes and infrastructure construction and management.
4. To develop and implement and enforce legally, the building codes incorporating modern
technical standards and making them mandatory for construction industry.
5. To develop techno-financial regime by allotting some percentage of development funds
for disaster mitigation. To earmark some percentage of Local Development Funds for
retrofitting of lifeline buildings (like schools, hospitals etc.)
6. To promote research and skill building process for specialized jobs in rescue and relief.
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Affairs, National Disaster Management Division
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4. Anderson, M.B. & P.J. Woodrow, Rising from the ashes: Developemnt Strategies in Times of
5. ADPC, Community based disaster management course participants’ workbook.
6. ADPC, Disaster Mitiagtion in Asian Cities: Experiences of ADPC’s AUDMP, report for IDNDR-
ESCAP regional meeting for Asia
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8. Gupta Manu; Empowered Individual: Caring neighbours make the best disaster managers.
9. Korten David; People Centered Development: Towards a framework
10. Twigg & Bhatt: Understanding Vulnerability: South Asian Perspective
11. Victoria; Activating Grassroots Community Involvement, paper for AUDMP Regional Workshop