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National Issues - Disaster Ministry
D I S A S T E R : M A N A G E M E N T

Future name for home Ministry?

   Almost 60% of India is under tectonically Shiv Raj Patilactive earthquake prone zones; about 8% is prone to landslides; over 40 million hectares is flood prone; while 68% of the area is susceptible to drought. In the 1990s, while the annual loss of life was 4,344 (a relatively low number compared to, say, the 85,000 and above who die in road accidents every year in India), the bigger issue is the 30 million people who are directly affected by disasters each year. Even the loss to physical infrastructure has been astronomical. Despite several previous hazards, it took the catastrophic super cyclone of Orissa in 1999 and the Bhuj earthquake to underscore the need for a multi dimensional strategy involving an institutionalised social, financial and scientific processes that incorporates risk reduction at the planning stage itself. But disaster management has remained as chaotic as ever. Now, the area of disaster management has been brought under the ambit of the Home Ministry. Critics have argued that this will be of no use until unplanned urban growth at 5% per annum, high deforestation, and change in land-use pattern (up to a massive 20% of geographical area) are first addressed; issues that could have been handled well outside the already overburdened Home Ministry! The last thing one would want would be the Home Ministry to be the synonym for 'Disaster'!

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