Natural Hazards and Disasters

Disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, etc., have struck the earth from time to time. These events have caused huge loss to human life and property. Natural disasters are relatively sudden events and cause large scale deaths, loss of property and disturbance to the social systems and life, over which the people have little or no control. Natural hazards on the other hand are the elements of circumstances in the natural environment that have the potential to cause harm to the people, property or both. Hazards are the risk of potential disasters. All hazards do not turn into disasters. The vulnerability of a place turns any natural hazard into a disaster. Disasters can be natural or the result of human activities. It is difficult to eliminate disasters, particularly the natural ones. The best option is mitigation and preparedness to minimise the losses. Three steps involved in the disaster mitigation and management are: Pre-disaster management which involves: Generating data and information about disasters Preparing vulnerability zoning maps Spreading awareness among people Preparedness and preventive measures to be taken During disaster, these should be done on an emergency basis: Evacuation to find and evacuate the trapped people Construction of shelters and relief camps Supplying of water, food, clothing and medical aids, etc. Post disaster operations should involve: Rehabilitation of victims Recovery of victims Capacity building, in order to cope with any future disasters. The mitigation measures are very important in India, where large area is vulnerable to disasters. The Disaster Management Bill, 2005, and establishment of National Institute of Disaster Management promote a centralised system for disaster management, with due importance and responsibility attached to the local bodies as well.

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