Earthquake Hazard Mitigation

  • Since earthquake also destroys most of the transport and communication links, providing timely relief to the victims becomes difficult. It is not possible to prevent the occurrence of an earthquake; hence, the next best option is to lay emphasis on disaster preparedness and mitigation rather than curative measures.
  • Earthquake monitoring centres (seismological centres) for regular monitoring and fast dissemination of information among the people in the vulnerable areas should be established. Currently, Centre for Seismology
  • (CS) is the nodal agency of Government of India responsible for monitoring seismic activity in and around the country.
  • A vulnerability map of the country along with dissemination of vulnerability risk information among the people can be done to minimize the adverse impacts.
  • Planning: The Bureau of Indian Standards has published building codes and guidelines for safe construction of buildings against earthquakes. Before the buildings are constructed the building plans have to be checked by the Municipality, according to the laid down by-laws.
  • Important buildings such as hospitals, schools and fire stations need to be upgraded by retrofitting techniques.
  • Community preparedness and public education on causes and characteristics of an earthquake and preparedness measures is important. It can be created through sensitization and training programme for community, by preparation of disaster management plans by schools, malls, hospitals etc. and carrying out mock drills, by preparing documentation on lessons from previous earthquakes and widely disseminating it.
  • Engineered structures: The soil type should be analysed before construction. Building structures on soft soil should be avoided. Similar problems persist in the buildings constructed on the river banks which have alluvial soil.
  • Encouraging use of Indigenous methods – Indigenous earthquake-resistant houses like the bhongas in the Kutch Region of Gujarat, dhajji diwari buildings in Jammu & Kashmir, brick-nogged wood frame constructions in Himachal Pradesh and ekra constructions made of bamboo in Assam are increasingly being replaced with modern Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) buildings, often without incorporating earthquake resistant features and without compliance to building codes and bye-laws. It is thus necessary to make use of indigenous technical knowledge and locally available materials in the construction of earthquake-resistant buildings in suburban and rural areas.
  • Quick and effective response – Experience has shown that over 80% search and rescue is carried out by communities itself before the intervention of specialized rescue and relief forces. Thus there is a need to give basic training to the community members as it is always the first responder after any disaster.
  • Early Earthquake Warning and Security System -Chennai-based Structural Engineering Research Centre (CSIRSERC), a pioneer advanced seismic testing and research laboratory under the Council of Scientific & Industrial
  • Research (CSIR), has completed the testing of the German-developed “Early Earthquake Warning and Security System”, which was launched for the first time in India recently.
  • A pilot project on Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system is under implementation for northern India (Uttarakhand) by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee which is funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  • Insurance & Risk transfer instruments – These should be developed in collaboration with the insurance companies and financial institutions.

Management of Tsunamis

  • Tsunami Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Analysis: NDMA recommends assessment of vulnerability and risk mapping in the tsunami hazard based on coastal land use maps and coastal bathymetry. It suggests development of models to estimate the arrival and wave run up height of tsunami waves. In India, the Indian Naval Hydrographic Department (INHD) functions under the Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India. It regularly provides bathymetry information to authorized agencies for drawing the inundation maps.
  • Tsunami Preparedness: A 17-station Real Time Seismic Monitoring Network (RTSMN) is envisaged to be established by IMD and Bottom Pressure Recorders (BPRs) are used to detect the propagation of Tsunami waves in the Open Ocean. A major concern is that the unattended ocean observation platforms in sea are being vandalized either accidentally. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has implemented the National Data Buoy Programme for the protection of surface buoys. Tsunami Bulletins and warning systems are an important part of preparedness. “Tsunami Escape” direction sign boards must be set up in coastal areas.
  • Visual and radio media also play an important role in alert and warning and Public awareness campaigns must be held more frequently.
  • Structural Mitigation Measures: Following are the various structural measures recommended:
    • Construction of cyclone shelters, submerged sand barriers/dykes, sand dunes with sea weeds and plantation of mangroves and coastal forests along the coast line.
    • Development of a network of local knowledge centres (rural/urban) along the coast lines to provide necessary training and emergency communication during crisis time (e.g. centres developed by M.S. Swaminathan Foundation in Pondicherry).
    • Construction of location specific sea walls and coral reefs in consultation with experts.
    • Development of break waters along the coast to provide necessary cushion,
    • Development of a “Bio-Shield” – a narrow strip of land along coastline. It can be developed as coastal zone disaster management sanctuary, which must have thick plantation and public spaces for public awareness, dissemination and demonstration.
    • Identification of vulnerable structures and appropriate retrofitting for tsunami/cyclone resistance of all such buildings along with identification of Tsunami shelters.
  • Regulation and Enforcement of Techno-Legal Regime: Following measures can be taken:
    • Strict implementation of the coastal zone regulations (within 500 m of the high tide line with elevation of less than 10 m above mean sea level)
    • Adoption the model techno-legal framework, developed by MHA, for ensuring compliance of tsunami-safe zoning, planning, design and construction practices and encourage optimum land use.
  • Emergency Tsunami Response: As community is the first responder, launching a series of public awareness campaign throughout the coastal area by various means can be undertaken. SHGs, NGOs, CBOs can be involved in search and rescue operations. Inflatable motorized boats, helicopters and search & rescue equipment are required immediately after a tsunami to carry out search and rescue of people trapped in inundated areas, on tree tops and hanging on to structures.
  • Ensuring Implementation: Aggressive capacity building requirements for the local people and the administration for facing the disasters in wake of tsunami and cyclone, ‘based on cutting edge level’.
    • Awareness generation and training among the fishermen, coast guards, officials from fisheries department and port authorities and local district officials etc., in connection with evacuation and post tsunami storm surge management activities. Regular drills should be conducted to test the efficacy of the DM plans.

Flood Management

A) Structural Measures

  • Reservoirs, Dams, Other Water Storages: By constructing reservoirs in the courses of rivers could stores extra water at the time of flood. Such measures adopted till now however, have not been successful. Dams built to control floods of Damodar could not control the flood.
  • Embankments/Flood Levees/Flood Walls: By building flood protection embankments, floods water can be controlled from overflowing the banks and spreading in nearby areas. Building of embankments on Yamuna, near Delhi, has been successful in controlling the flood.
  • Drainage improvement: Drainage system is generally choked by the construction of roads, canals railway tracks etc. Floods could be checked if the original form of drainage system is restored.
  • Channel Improvement/Desilting/Dredging of Rivers: A channel can be made to carry flood discharge at levels lower than its prevailing high flood level by improving its discharge carrying capacity. It aims at increasing the area of flow or the velocity of flow (or both) to increase its carrying capacity. Selective desilting/dredging at outfalls/confluences or local reaches can, however, be adopted as a measure to tackle the problem locally.
  • Diversion of Flood Water: Diverting all or a part of the discharge into a natural or artificially constructed channel, lying within or in some cases outside the flood plains is a useful means of lowering water levels in the river.
  • The flood spill channel skirting Srinagar city and the supplementary drain in Delhi are examples of diverting excess water to prevent flooding of the urbanised areas.
  • Catchment Area Treatment/Afforestation: Watershed management measures such as developing the vegetative cover i.e. afforestation and conservation of soil cover in conjunction with structural works like check dams, detention basins etc. serve as an effective measure in reducing flood peaks and controlling the suddenness of the runoff.

B) Non-Structural Measures

  • Flood Plain Zoning: It is to regulate land use in the flood plains in order to restrict the damage due to floods, while deriving maximum benefits from the same.
  • Flood Proofing: It helps in the mitigation of distress and provides immediate relief to the population in flood prone areas. It is a combination of structural change and emergency action, not involving any evacuation. It includes providing raised platforms for flood shelter for men and cattle, raising the public utility installation especially the platforms for drinking water hand pumps and bore wells above flood level, promoting construction of double-storey buildings wherein the first floor can be used for taking shelter during floods.
  • Flood Management Plans: All government departments and agencies must prepare their own FMPs.
  • Integrated Water Resources Management aiming at integrating management of water resources at the basin or watershed scale.
  • Flood Forecasting and Warning in India: Real time discharge and rainfall data is the basic requirements for the formulation of a flood forecast. Most of the hydro-meteorological data are observed and collected by the field formations of Central Water Commission; IMD supplies the daily rainfall data.

Urban Flood Management

  • Early Warning System and Communication: National Hydro-meteorological Network and Doppler Weather Radars can provide and a lead time of 3 to 6 hours. Once flood warning is generated, it must be communicated to public in an effective manner.
  • Design and Management of Urban Drainage: Rapid urbanisation has resulted in increased impermeable surfaces in the form of pavements, roads and built-up areas, thereby reducing the infiltration and natural storage.
    • Drainage System: A proper inventory of water supply system with details of all pumping, storage etc. must be maintained, particularly of the minor drainage systems.
    • Catchment as a basis of design: As run off processes are independent of states and city administrative boundaries outlines of drainage divides must be depend on watershed delineation.
    • Contour Data: Accurate contours are necessary for determining the boundaries of a watershed/ catchment and for computing directions of flow.
    • Design Flow: Estimation of peak flow rates for adequate sizing and quantity control facilities.
    • Removal of Solid Waste: Most towns and cities have open surface drains besides the road, into which there is unauthorized public disposal of waste. Solid waste increases hydraulic roughness, causes blockage and generally reduces flow capacity.
    • Drain Inlet Connectivity: It is seen that the inlets to drain the water from the roads into the roadside drains are either not properly aligned or non-existent leading to severe waterlogging on the roads.
    • Rain Gardens: Rain gardens consist of a porous soil covered with a thin layer of mulch. Stormwater runoff is directed into the facility, allowed to pond and infiltrates through the plant/mulch/soil environment.
  • Vulnerability Analysis and Risk Assessment: Identification of areas at risk, classification of structures according to function and estimation of risk for each structure and function using Hazard Risk Zoning.
  • Urban Flooding Cells: A separate Urban Flooding Cell (UFC) will be constituted within MoUD which will coordinate all UFDM activities at the national level. ULBs will be responsible for the management of urban flooding at the local level
  • Response: Emergency Operation Centres, Incident Response System, flood shelters, search and rescue operations, emergency logistics are some key action areas of flood response mechanism.
  • Sanitation: Diseases like malaria, dengue and cholera can spread if adequate sanitation and disinfection are not carried out.
  • Capacity Development, Awareness Generation and Documentation: Participatory urban flood planning and management involving both local government and the community


Landslide Hazard Mitigation

  • Hazard zones have to be identified and specific slides to be stabilized and managed in addition to monitoring and early warning systems to be placed at selected sites.
  • It is always advisable to adopt area-specific measures to deal with landslides.
  • Hazard mapping should be done to locate areas commonly prone to landslides.
  • Restriction on the construction and other developmental activities such as roads and dams, limiting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes, and control on the development of large settlements in the high vulnerability zones, should be enforced.
  • Promote large-scale afforestation programmes and construction of bunds to reduce the flow of water.
  • Terrace farming should be encouraged in the north-eastern hill states replacing Jhumming or shifting cultivation.
  • Retaining walls can be built of mountain slopes to stop land from slipping.
  • Treating vulnerable slopes and existing hazardous landslides.
  • Restricting development in landslide-prone areas.
  • Preparing codes for excavation, construction and grading.
  • Protecting existing developments.
  • Putting in place arrangements for landslide insurance and compensation for losses.


Cyclone Hazard Mitigation

An effective cyclone disaster prevention and mitigation plan requires:

  • Efficient cyclone forecast – and warning services;
  • Rapid dissemination of warnings to the government agencies, particularly marine interests like ports, fisheries and shipping and to the general public and
  • Construction of cyclone shelters in vulnerable areas, a ready machinery for evacuation of people to safer areas and community preparedness at all levels to meet the exigencies.
  • Considering above points possible risk mitigation measures can be:
  • Coastal belt plantation – Providing a cover through green belt sustains less damage as forests act as a wide buffer zone against strong winds and flash floods. Without the forest the cyclone travel freely inland.
  • Hazard mapping – Meteorological records of the wind speed and the directions give the pattern of occurrence of cyclone for particular wind speeds. A hazard map will illustrate the areas vulnerable to cyclone in any given year and estimate the severity of the cyclone and various damage intensities in the region.
  • Land use control- can be designed so that least critical activities are placed in vulnerable areas. Location of settlements in the flood plains is at utmost risk. Citing of key facilities must be marked in the land use. Policies should be in place to regulate land use and building codes should be enforced.
  • Engineered structures – need to be built to withstand wind forces. Good site selection is also important.
  • Majority of the buildings in coastal areas are built with locally available materials and have no engineering inputs. Good construction practices should be adopted such as:
    • Cyclonic wind storms inundate the coastal areas. It is advised to construct on stilts or on earth mound.
    • Houses can be strengthened to resist wind and flood damage. All elements holding the structures need to be properly anchored to resist the uplift or flying off of the objects. For example, avoid large overhangs of roofs, and the projections should be tied down.
    • A row of planted trees will act as a shield. It reduces the energy.
    • Buildings should be wind and water resistant.
    • Buildings storing food supplies must be protected against the winds and water.
    • Protect river embankments.
    • Communication lines should be installed underground.
    • Provide strong halls for community shelter in vulnerable locations.
  • Flood management – Torrential rains, strong wind and storm range leads to flooding in the cyclone affected areas.
  • There are possibilities of landslides too. Flood mitigation measures can be incorporated.
  • Improving vegetation cover – The roots of the plants and trees keep the soil intact and prevent erosion and slow runoff to prevent or lessen flooding. The use of tree planted in rows will act as a windbreak.
  • Coastal shelterbelt plantations can be developed to break severe wind speeds. It minimizes devastating effects

Drought Management

The objectives of mitigation measures are to reduce soil erosion, augment soil moisture, restrict surface run-off of rainwater and improve the efficiency of water use. It involves a wide range of soil and water conservation measures and farm practices.

  • Water Harvesting and Conservation: processes and structures of rainfall and run- off collection from large catchments area and channelling them for human consumption by using traditional methods or artificial recharge of groundwater. It helps to rejuvenate depleted high-capacity aquifers by adopting integrated groundwater recharge techniques, such as dams, tanks and percolation tanks, could improve water availability and create a water buffer for dealing with successive droughts.
  • Drought Monitoring: It is continuous observation of the rainfall situation, availability of water in the reservoirs, lakes, rivers etc. and comparing with the existing water needs in various sectors of the society.
  • Sowing drought resistant crops: By sowing drought resistant crops of cotton, Moong, pearl millet, wheat etc., the impact of drought could be mitigated to a certain extent.
  • Livelihood planning identifies those livelihoods which are least affected by the drought. Some of such livelihoods include increased off-farm employment opportunities, collection of non-timber forest produce from the community forests, raising goats, carpentry etc.
  • Suitable farming methods for arid areas: By adopting the following methods it is possible to mitigate the intensity of drought. The methods are: Production of coarse and hardy cereals; conservation of soil moisture by deep ploughing, storing water behind small dams, collecting water in ponds and tanks and use of sprinklers for irrigation.
  • Drought planning: the basic goal of drought planning is to improve the effectiveness of preparedness and response efforts by enhancing monitoring, mitigation and response measures.
  • Small quantity of water can irrigate comparatively larger area by using drip irrigation and sprinkler methods.
  • Identification of ground water potential in the form of aquifers, transfer of river water from the surplus to the deficit areas, and particularly planning for inter-linking of rivers and construction of reservoirs and dams.
  • Cloud Seeding to assess the aerosol characteristics, suitability of nuclides for cloud seeding and alternative types of cloud seeding – (ground based or aerial, warm or cold cloud seeding etc.). A cloud seeding policy needs to be formulated at National level and State level for creating required environment to regulate these measures.

Wild Fires Hazard Mitigation

During the British period, fire was prevented in the summer through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This was called Forest Fire Line, and was used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another.

  • A full spectrum of strategies that can be used to reduce wildland fire risks in the unincorporated area are as follows:
    • Vegetation Management – Investigate methods of vegetation management including fuel breaks, prescribed burning, mechanical clearing, biological brush control, and chemical brush control.
    • Codes and Ordinances – Review the existing codes relating to wildfires including building codes and vegetation clearance requirements around structures located in wild land-urban interface areas.
    • Bark Beetle Management – Investigate methods for bark beetle eradication or control.
    • Public Education – Expand strategies to educate the public on the essential steps for and the benefits of reducing fire risks.
  • Initiate research in the fields of fire detection, suppression, and fire ecology for better management of forest fires.
  • The fire spreads only if there is continuous supply of fuel (Dry vegetation) along its path. The best way to control a forest fire is therefore, to prevent it from spreading, which can be done by creating firebreaks in the shape of small clearings of ditches in the forests.
  • Participation of the volunteers not only for fire fighting but also to keep watch on the start of forest and sound an alert.
  • Arrange fire fighting drills frequently.
  • Proper utilisation of media and available technologies for dissemination of exact information to the people and the government.

Industrial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

  • Design and Pre-modification review: this involves proper layout, facilities and material selection. Research should be done try to substitute extremely toxic chemicals with safer ones. Less chemicals should be stored; a reduction in inventory will automatically mean less damage if an accident is to occur.
  • Chemical Risk Assessment: Chemicals are assessed based on compatibility, flammability, toxicity, explosion hazards and storage.
  • Process Safety Management: reliability assessment of process equipment, incorporating safety trips and interlocks, scrubbing system, etc. should be done before effecting major process changes. Management should try to develop a culture of safety in industrial organizations
  • Safety Audits: Periodical assessment of safety procedures and practices, performance of safety systems and gadgets along with follow up measures should be carried out.
  • Emergency Planning: A comprehensive risk analysis indicating the impact of consequences and specific written down and practiced emergency procedures along with suitable facilities should be done. This can be done by communities as well as national or regional corporation authorities
  • Training: Proper training of employees and protective services should be done.
  • Special times and escorts for dangerous vehicles
  • Public Cooperation on the road: the public should cooperate with the police and any tankers and heavy duty vehicles to avoid accidents and allow for the shortest possible on road time for dangerous vehicles.
  • Public awareness: Everyone should be aware of potential disasters and informed of protective and safety measures. Cautions must be placed to standout on dangerous household and car care products.
  • Proper storage of hazardous Materials: All chemicals and hazardous materials should be kept at proper storage temperature and in locked cupboards away from children and animals. Also, if reactive substances are stored, it should be stored is a watertight container.
  • Proper and safe disposal of hazardous waste to be ensured as per existing regulations.
  • Transition towards the use of safer alternatives and adoption of safer, affordable and sustainable technologies and processes
  • Strict implementation of land use policy should be there. A legislation on the buffer zone (or to be referred as ‘no man’s’ zone) should be introduced so that residential/ slum colonies are not established in proximity to industries. The already settled residential colonies need to be relocated.
  • A scheme for giving good performance awards to industries for achieving exemplary safety standards and statutory compliance shall be developed and implemented.

Nuclear Hazard Mitigation Strategies

  • There are four ways in which people are protected from identified radiation sources:
  • Limiting time. In occupational situations, dose is reduced by limiting exposure time.
  • The intensity of radiation decreases with distance from its source.
  • Barriers of lead, concrete or water give good protection from high levels of penetrating radiation such as gamma rays. Intensely radioactive materials are therefore often stored or handled under water, or by remote control in rooms constructed of thick concrete or lined with lead.
  • Highly radioactive materials are confined and kept out of the workplace and environment.
  • Nuclear reactors operate within closed systems with multiple barriers which keep the radioactive materials contained.
  • Promoting flexibility in management of emergencies, for efficient use of resources.
  • Maintenance of full-time capability for immediate response
  • Ensuring the responders, plans, facilities, and any necessary inter-organizational coordination are sufficient to provide the desired protection.
  • Appropriate steps and measures to be taken against occupational exposure and safety measures for nuclear Accidents

Prevention and Mitigation Strategies for Crowd Disaster

  • Free movement: The first step is to regulate traffic in areas surrounding the pandals and Dussehra grounds.
    • For pedestrians, route maps for reaching the venue and emergency exit route should be put up at strategic points.
    • Barricading to ensure the movement of people in a queue is key to control a burgeoning crowd.
    • Unauthorised parking and makeshift stalls eating into pedestrian space also need to be taken care of.
  • Monitoring: CCTV cameras to monitor movement and police presence to reduce the risk of snatching and other petty crimes should also be on the organisers’ agenda.
    • Medical emergencies can occur in claustrophobic spaces. An ambulance and health care professionals on stand-by can save lives in exigencies.
  • For participants:
    • Familiarizing with exit routes, staying calm and following instructions will help prevent stampedelike situations.
    • In case a stampede breaks out, protect chest by placing your hands like a boxer and keep moving in the direction of the crowd.
    • Stay alert to open spaces and move sideways wherever the crowd gets thinner. Stay away from walls, barricades or bottlenecks such as doorways.
    • Stay on your feet and get up quickly if you fall. If you can’t get up, use your arms to cover your head and curl up like a foetus so that your exposure area is reduced.
  • Fire related: Unplanned and unauthorised electrical wiring at pandals, LPG cylinders at food stalls and crackers hidden in the Ravana effigies pose the danger of a fire breaking out.
    • Organisers should ensure authorised use of electricity, fire safety extinguishers and other arrangements meeting safety guidelines. A list of neighbourhood hospitals would come in handy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *