Question: Discuss the Hazard Profile of India. 8 Marks
(a) As far as the vulnerability to disaster is concerned, the five distinctive regions of the country i.e. Himalayan region, the alluvial plains, the hilly part of the peninsula, and the coastal zone have their own specific problems. The Himalayan region is prone to disasters like Earthquakes and landslides, the plain is affected by floods almost every year. The desert part of the country is affected by droughts and famine while the coastal zone susceptible to cyclones and storms. Though peninsular India is considered to be the most stable portions, but occasional earthquakes in the region shows that geo- tectonic movements are still going on within its depth
(b) The alluvial plains of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra are affected by huge quantity of sediment brought by mighty Himalayan rivers, the area is suffers from river channel siltation, resulting into frequent floods, especially in the plains of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Monsoon is most important feature controlling the Indian climate because about 75 percent of the annual rainfall is received during a short span of four months that is June to September. Heavy rainfall in the mountainous catchment under ‘break’ conditions result in flooding of the plains. Floods and droughts occurring in India are closely associated with the nature and extent of the summer monsoon. The inter-annual fluctuations in the summer monsoon rainfall over India are sufficiently large to cause devastating floods or serious droughts. Floods and droughts affect vast areas of the country, transcending state boundaries. Out of 40 million hectares of the flood prone area in the country, on an average, floods affect an area of around 7.5 million hectares per year.
(c) The western part of the country, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and some parts of Maharashtra are hit very frequently by drought situation. If Monsoon worsens the situation spreads in other parts of the country too. For the purpose of identification of drought prone areas by Central Water Commission (CWC) the criteria adopted was that “drought is a situation occurring in an area when the annual rainfall is less than 75 percent of normal in 20 percent of the years examined. In the span of 124 years, the probability of occurrence of drought was found maximum in Rajasthan (25 %), Saurastra & Kutch (23%), followed by Jammu & Kashmir (21%) and Gujarat (21%) region. One-sixth area of the country is drought-prone. One of the major reasons for these droughts has been a strong link with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) patterns and its linkages with Indian food grain production. The disturbance in the pressure conditions over oceans, results into cyclones in coastal regions. The geo tectonic movements going on in the ocean floor make the coastal region prone to tsunami disaster too.
(d) The extreme weather conditions, huge quantity of ice and snow stored in the glaciers etc. are other natural factors which make the country prone to various forms of disasters.
(e) Along with the natural factors discussed in the preceding text, various human induced activities like increasing demographic pressure, deteriorating environmental conditions, deforestation, unscientific development, faulty agricultural practices and grazing, unplanned urbanisation, construction of large dams on river channels etc. are also responsible for accelerated impact and increase in frequency of disasters in the country.
(f) Vulnerability to disasters or emergencies of Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) origin has increased on account of socio-economic development. Heightened vulnerabilities to disaster risks can be related to expanding population, urbanization and industrialization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation and climate change.
(g) Climate Change: This is evident from the increase in the global average air and ocean temperatures, precipitation and extreme rainfall, widespread melting of snow and ice, storms/storm surges/coastal flooding and rising global mean sea level, as recorded in the fourth Assessment Report of IPCC. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of current extreme weather events and give rise to new vulnerabilities with differential spatial and socio-economic impacts on communities. The unprecedented increase is expected to have severe impacts on the hydrological cycle, water resource, droughts, flood, drinking water, forest and ecosystems, sea level/coastal area losses of coastal wetlands and mangroves, food security, health and other related areas. The impact would be particularly disastrous for developing countries, including India and further degrade the resilience of poor, vulnerable communities, which make up between one quarter and one half of the population of the most Indian cities. The main impact of global climate change will be felt due to changes in climate variability and weather extremes. Observations during the last decade and projections indicate that extreme events i.e. heat waves, cold waves, more floods, more droughts, more intense cyclones and flash floods will increase. Extreme rainfall has substantially increased over large areas, particularly over the west coast and west central India.
(h) Poverty and disaster vulnerability: Poverty and risk to disasters are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The poor section of the society is worst affected in case of disaster. The situation further aggravates due to the compulsion of the poor to exploit environmental resources for their survival, increasing the risk and exposure of the society to disasters, in particular those triggered by flood, drought and landslides. Poverty also compels the poor to migrate and live at physically more vulnerable locations, often on unsafe land and in unsafe shelters. The inhabitations of the poor people on marginal land are prone to all types of disasters.
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