India with its geo-climatic conditions, high density of population, socioeconomic disparities and other geopolitical reasons, has a high risk of natural and man-made disasters. In respect to natural disasters, it is vulnerable to forest fires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, and cyclones. Other than the natural disasters, the nation is also vulnerable to man-made disasters like:
∙ War, terrorist attacks, and riots;
∙ Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear crisis;
∙ Hijacks, train accidents, airplane crashes, shipwrecks, etc
It is impossible to anticipate Natural disasters such as Cyclones, Flash floods, Earthquakes, and Tsunamis. However, disaster preparedness plans and protocols in the civil administration and public health systems could be very helpful in rescue and relief and in reducing casualties and adverse impact on the human life and socio-economic conditions.
Disaster preparedness is critical, particularly in natural disasters. Administration’s immediate search, rescue, and relief operations and mass casualty management will effectively mitigate the impact of the Disaster, and restore normal life.
Three core disaster management strategies are needed to manage the crisis.
These strategies included:
The response, rescue, and relief operations,
Mass casualty management
i) The response, rescue, and relief operations
1. Initial response (Early warnings by IMD and Deployment of Rescue Force (Indian Army, NDRF or else) ”
Land/River/Rainfall Observation System collects necessary information and data by means of various sensors placed at disaster-prone areas.
Response time is a critical attribute in effective disaster management. There should be no delay in disaster response
2. Plan for Search operations and evacuations (Local Guides and Maps)
3. Hospitals on alert
4. Dedicated Communication system: – One of the most significant impacts of natural disasters is the breakdown or interruption of traditional communications networks. The communication networks get entirely or partially damaged by disasters or become congested with exceptionally high levels of traffic. This adversely affects emergency responders in their rescue operations. A robust communication channel is required for managing and coordinating the rescue and relief operations.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has released a Consultation Paper on ‘Next Generation Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) communication networks’. Fast implementation of such kind of networks is essential.
1. The infrastructure of Local hospitals may be destroyed in the disaster so there is a strong need to keep hospitals of surrounding cities on alert along with local hospitals.
2. A dedicated plan is required to make the roads operational soon after the disaster to ease the evacuations
3. There should be a proper plan of logistical support for First AID and to evacuate the injured people to other cities for Treatment
1. Shelter and relief work should expatiate
2. Supply of essential items: – Medicines blankets, tents, gumboots, and clothes to be provided to the victims
3. Water, sanitation, and hygiene needed to be maintained in the region in order to avoid health-related issues
4. Food and nutrition
(A) There will be a High risk of water-borne diseases following the disaster. Many human bodies may wash away and contaminate water bodies. There will be increased fly and mosquito menace. There will an urgent need to prevent disease transmission due to contaminated drinking water sources, flies and Mosquitoes.
(B) The population would have a higher risk of mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, deprivation, and depression. Therefore, relief and rehabilitation would include increased awareness of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and its alleviation through education on developing coping mechanisms.
Building confidence of the public to avoid the panic situation is also critical. Community involvement and awareness generation, particularly that of the vulnerable segments of population and women, needs to be emphasized as necessary for sustainable disaster risk reduction.
Increased public awareness is necessary to ensure an organized and calm approach to disaster management. Periodic mock drills and exercise in Disaster management protocols in the general population can be very useful
Challenges for Efficient Disaster Management in India
In various studies, several shortcomings have been observed in disaster response, such as,
The absence of early warning systems
Lack of resources for mass evacuation
Inadequate coordination among government departments
Lack of standard operating procedures for rescue and relief
Lack of storage of essential medicines and supplies.
Topics related to Natural disasters are often asked in IAS Prelims as well as GS Mains Paper-III.
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