W ith every natural or man made hazard, the blame-game starts in India. In the realm of accusations and counter- accusations, the real issues get obliterated in the files of governmental committees and sub-committees. Quickly forgotten or silently ignored is the fact that despite India being highly vulnerable to disasters of every kind, almost nothing is done to prevent the astronomical loss of private and community assets. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides are among the few that have caused havoc of the highest proportion - 60% of the landmass remains prone to earthquakes, 8% to cyclones, while 40 million hectares are susceptible to floods.
India's unpreparedness can be gauged from the fact that while the Jammu & Kashmir earthquake led to about 20,000 casualties, housing safeguards in Los Angeles (which is positioned on the tectonically dangerous California fault) had ensured that a 2002 tremor of a higher magnitude could kill not more than ten! Given these nightmarish projections, a tie-up of the government and masses for generating a culture of awareness is urgently needed. After all, the highest casualties are more due to faulty preparedness, than anything else. It is better to be prepared, than to be caught unaware.