Classification and Types of Disasters and Natural Hazards


To prepare for DISASTERS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Classification and Types of Disasters and Natural Hazards. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-III.). Classification and Types of Disasters and Natural Hazards terms are important from Disaster Management perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


Classification of disasters:

Disasters can be classified into two types:

  • Classification of Disasters
    • Natural disasters
    • Man-made disasters


Natural disasters in India:
  • Natural Disasters
    • Earthquake
    • Tsunamis
    • Floods
    • Droughts
    • Landslides
    • Crowd Management
    • Forest Fires
    • Oil Spills


  • Earthquakes are by far the most unpredictable and highly destructive of all the natural disasters. Earthquakes that are of tectonic origin have proved to be the most devastating and their area of influence is also quite large.
  • These earthquakes result from a series of earth movements brought about by a sudden release of energy during the tectonic activities in the earth’s crust.
  • National Geophysical Laboratory, Geological Survey of India, Department of Meteorology along with recently formed National Institute of Disaster Management have made an intensive analysis of more than 1200 earthquakes that have occurred in India in the past and based on these, they divided India into following five earthquake zones:


Seismic Zones in India

  • There are four seismic zones (II, III, IV, and V) in India based on scientific inputs relating to seismicity, earthquakes occurred in the past and tectonic setup of the region.
  • Previously, earthquake zones were divided into five zones with respect to the severity of the earthquakes but the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) grouped the country into four seismic zones by unifying the first two zones.
  • BIS is the official agency for publishing the seismic hazard maps and codes.


Seismic Zone II:


Area with minor damage earthquakes corresponding to intensities V to VI of MM scale (MM-Modified Mercalli Intensity scale).
Seismic Zone III: Moderate damage corresponding to intensity VII of MM scale.
Seismic Zone IV: Major damage corresponding to intensity VII and higher of MM scale.
Seismic Zone V:


· Area determined by pro seismically of certain major fault systems and is seismically the most active region.

· Earthquake zone V is the most vulnerable to earthquakes, where historically some of the country’s most powerful shocks have occurred.

· Earthquakes with magnitudes in excess of 7.0 have occurred in these areas, and have had intensities higher than IX.



Socio-environmental consequences of earthquakes:

  • The idea of earthquakes is often associated with fear and horror due the scale, magnitude and suddenness at which it spreads on the surface of the earth without discrimination.
  • It becomes a calamity when it strikes the areas of high density of population.
  • It not only damages and destroys the settlement, infrastructure, transport and communication networks, industries and other developmental activities but also robs the population of their material and socio-cultural gains that they have preserved over generations. It renders them homeless, which puts an extra pressure and stress, particularly on the weak economy of developing countries.


Effects of earthquakes:

On Ground:

Fissures: · Earthquakes can create fissures in the crust of the earth which may result into possible chain effects.



· Population settlement can be hampered due to earthquakes which may also result into loss of lives, migration of people to safer areas.


· High sloping areas are most vulnerable zones for landslides. Human activities like intensive grazing, deforestation and natural phenomena like high rainfall can cause landslides.

· Example: Himalayan region have high sloping areas which also constitutes ‘very high damage risk zone’ in India.


On Manmade Structures:



Earthquakes can cause cracking of buildings, roads and other infrastructure. In the long run these cracks can make the structures more vulnerable for further damage.


Earthquake can develop sliding of structures to the lower strata. A tectonic plate can slide over another which can create unevenness on the ground. This causes sliding of buildings, roads and other infrastructures.


Manmade structures are high risk prone to earthquakes if these are not constructed according to the geological and geomorphological conditions of the area. Thus, buildings collapse is common phenomenon during earthquakes.


On Water:



Earthquakes can create waves on water bodies usually higher than normal. Such high waves can intrude human settlements, agriculture, forests etc.
Hydro dynamic pressure:


Water bodies are highly sensitive to pressure changes as creates ripples of pressure. Dams are particularly more vulnerable to such pressure systems. Dam burst can occur if sufficient pressure is generated by earthquakes.


· Earthquakes can cause shift in tectonic plates and it may create waves higher wavelengths. Such waves are more destructive.

· Example: 2004 Tsunami, 2018 Tsunami waves in Indonesia.


Earthquake hazard mitigation:

It is not possible to prevent the earthquakes hence the best option is to emphasise on disaster preparedness and mitigation rather than curative measures such as:

  • Establishing earthquake monitoring centres for regular monitoring and dissemination of information among the people in vulnerable areas. Use of GPS can be of great help in monitoring the movement of tectonic plates.
  • Preparing a vulnerability map of the country and dissemination of vulnerability risk information among the people and educating them about the ways and means minimising the adverse impacts of disasters.
  • Modifying the house types and building designs in the vulnerable areas and discouraging construction of high-rise buildings, large industrial establishments and big urban centres in such areas.
  • Making it mandatory to adopt earthquake resistant designs and use light materials in major construction activities in the vulnerable areas.


Current developments:

  • India Quake App- Ministry of Earth Sciences launched ‘India Quake’ app to enable users receive information about natural hazards on land and water. It has been developed by National centre for Seismology for automatic dissemination of earthquake parameter such as location, time and magnitude after the occurrence of Earthquake and avoid delay of information in the event of earthquake.



  • Tsunamis (Japanese for “harbour wave”), also known as a seismic sea wave, are a series of very large waves with extremely long wavelength, in the deep ocean, the length from crest to crest may be 100 km and more.
  • It is usually generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor caused by earthquake, landslides, or volcanic activity.
  • Most tsunamis, including the most destructive ones are generated by large and shallow earthquakes which usually occur near geological plate boundaries, or fault-lines, where geological plates collide.
  • When the seafloor abruptly deforms the sudden vertical displacements over large areas disturb the ocean’s surface, displace water, and generate tsunami waves. Since the wave height in deep ocean will be only a few decimetres or less (i.e., a few inches), tsunamis are not usually felt aboard ships.
  • Nor are they visible from the air in the open ocean.
  • The waves could travel away from the triggering source with speeds exceeding 800 km/h over very long distances.
  • They could be extremely dangerous and damaging when they reach the coast, because when the tsunami enters shallow water in coastal areas, the wave velocity will decrease accompanied by increase in wave height.
  • In shallow waters, a large tsunami crest height may rise rapidly by several metres even in excess of 30 m causing enormous destruction in a very short time.

As seen on Indian Ocean shores in December 2004, tsunami can cause massive death and destruction. They are particularly dangerous close to their sources, where the first waves in the tsunami train can arrive within a few to tens of minutes of the triggering event.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in Indian Ocean on 26 Dec 2004 had devastating effects on India. Many people died and millions were displaced. The hardest hit areas were on Southern coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Island. Tsunamis have the potential of causing significant casualties, widespread property damage, massive infrastructure loss and long-term negative economic impacts. People caught in the path of a tsunami often have little chance of survival. People die from drowning or debris crushing them.

It is beyond the capacity of individual state or government to mitigate the damage. Hance, combined efforts at the international levels are the possible ways dealing of dealing with these disasters. India has volunteered to join the International Tsunami Warning System (ITWS) after the December 2004 tsunami disaster.


Tsunamis: Capacity Building

Research and Development:

  • Encourage development of standardised methods for tsunami risk assessment and scenario development, support studies to collect the data and compile knowledge.
  • Develop suitable large-scale digital maps indicating the tsunami hazard basis on past tsunami events.
  • States should develop detailed computerised maps and databases of vulnerable areas along the coast for planning and coordination of DM activities.


Zoning or mapping:

  • Database of Tsunami Risk and Vulnerability in the coastal areas with information on trends of storm surge, high des, local bathymetry, etc.
  • States should ensure support to the Central Government agencies in zoning/ mapping and carry out at their level.


Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting & Early Warning:

  • Assess the status of existing important installations in coastal areas to withstand tsunami
  • Securing critical instrumentation to ensure fail-safe functioning of these critical instruments and their protection.
  • States should support, cooperation for data collection and updates.


Dissemination of warnings, data, and information:

  • Monitoring seismic activity, provide warnings based on seismic models and issue periodic bulletin.
  • Dissemination of warnings to all, down to the last mile – remote, rural or urban; Regular updates to people in areas at risk.


Centre and states can coordinate on following matters:

  • Strengthening of lifeline structures and high priority buildings
  • Shelters from storm surges and tsunamis
  • Construction of large-scale submerged sand barriers
  • Periodical dredging of the inlets and associated water bodies so as to absorb the influx during tsunami
  • Construction of submerged dykes (one or two rows along the stretch of the coast) so as to decrease the impact due to the incoming tsunami and inland dykes to safeguard vital installations
  • Hazard resistant construction, strengthening, and retrofitting of all lifeline structures and critical infrastructure.


Current developments:


Sagar Vani App:

  • Sagar Vani app has been developed by ESSO Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) under Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • It is a software platform which uses state of art technology for dissemination of ocean related information and advisory services such as Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories, Ocean State Forecast (OSF), High Wave Alerts and Tsunami early warnings.


Tropical cyclones:

  • India’s long coastline of nearly 7,500 km consists of 5,400 km along the mainland, 132 km in Lakshadweep and 1,900 km in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. About 10 per cent of the World’s tropical cyclones affect the Indian coast.
  • Of these, the majority has their initial genesis over the Bay of Bengal and strike the east coast of India.
  • On an average, five to six tropical cyclones form every year, of which two or three could be severe.
  • Cyclones occur frequently on both the west coast in the Arabian Sea and the east coast in the Bay of Bengal.
  • More cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal than in the Arabian Sea.
  • An analysis of the frequencies of cyclones on the East and West coasts of India during 1891-2000 shows that nearly 308 cyclones (out of which 103 were severe) affected the East Coast.
  • In India, tropical cyclones occur in the months of May-June and October-November.
  • The cyclones of severe intensity and frequency in the northern part of the Indian Ocean are bimodal in character, with their primary peak in November and secondary peak in May.
  • The disaster potential is particularly high at the time of landfall in the northern part of Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) due to the accompanying destructive wind, storm surges and torrential rainfall. Of these, storm surges are the greatest killers of a cyclone, by which sea water inundates low lying areas of coastal regions and causes heavy floods, erodes beaches and embankments, destroys vegetation and reduces soil fertility.
  • The coastal states and union territories (UTs) in the country, encompassing 84 coastal districts which are affected by tropical cyclones.
  • Four states (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal) and one UT (Puducherry) on the east coast and one state (Gujarat) on the west coast are highly vulnerable to cyclone disasters.


Initial conditions for emergence of tropical cyclones:

  • Large and continuous supply of warm and moist air that can release enormous latent heat.
  • Strong Coriolis force that can prevent filling of low pressure at the centre (absence of Coriolis force near the equator prohibits the formation of tropical cyclones between 0-5-degree latitudes).
  • Unstable conditions through the troposphere that creates local disturbances around which a cyclone develops.
  • Absence of strong vertical wind wedge which disturbs the vertical transport of latent heat.



Tropical cyclones: NDMA Guideline

Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting & Early Warning:

  • Promote research and studies – both in-house and extra-mural by providing research grants to researchers and institutions
  • Studies on ecosystem and shoreline changes
  • Promote availability in public domain cyclone database and forecasts
  • Enhancement of Observational Network Stations (ONS)
  • Establishment of planned Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and Rain-Gauge Network (RGN)
  • Enhancement of a Doppler Weather Radar Network over coastal regions
  • Integration of all ONS with AWS & RGN in one single platform
  • Modernisation of observation network, equipment, systems, technology.


Zoning or mapping:

  • Support the preparation of detailed maps to delineate coastal wetlands, mangroves and shelter belts and tracts for coastal bio-shields using best tools, field studies, and satellite data.


Dissemination of warnings, data, and information:

  • Quick, clear, effective dissemination among central and state agencies
  • Deployment of communication equipment
  • Warnings using all types of options, types of technologies, and media
  • Providing weather information online and offline and interface with mobile network service
  • Providing warnings on radio, TV, and cell phones.


Inter-agency coordination:

  • Effective coordination and seamless communication among central and state agencies to ensure quick, clear, effective dissemination of warnings, information and data.


Structural measures:

  • Hazard resistant construction, strengthening, and retrofitting of all lifeline structures and critical infrastructure.


Awareness Generation:

  • Carry out mass media campaigns
  • Promote attitude and behaviour change in the awareness campaigns/ IEC
  • Promote culture of disaster risk prevention, mitigation, and beer risk management
  • Promote use of insurance/ risk transfer
  • Promote Community Radio
  • Strengthening network of civil society organisations for awareness generation about DRR and DM


Mock drills or exercises:

  • Promote planning and execution of emergency drills by all ministries and in all States/UT’s


Vocational Training/ Skill Development:

  • Promoting skill development for multi-hazard resistant construction in cyclone-prone areas for different types of housing and infrastructure.


Empowering women, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development covering all aspects of disaster management.


Community-Based Disaster Management

  • Training for PRI, SHG, NCC, NSS, youth, local community organizations.
  • Strengthen ability of communities to manage and cope with disasters based on a multi-hazard approach.


Current Developments:

1st ‘National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CDRR&R) – 2020’

  • Conference was organized by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), in New Delhi.
  • The conference focused on enhancing human capacity in terms of better understanding about coastal disaster risks and effective collaborative actions, by implementing Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • NIDM, under Ministry of Home Affairs was constituted under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • It has been entrusted with the nodal national responsibility for human resource development, capacity building, training, research, documentation and policy advocacy in the field of disaster management.


Cold Waves:

  • Cold wave and frost are seasonal and localized hazards occurring only in the parts with severe winter. Prolonged frost conditions and cold wave can damage certain frost-sensitive plants causing crops loss. The susceptibility to frost varies widely across crops.
  • The extent of damage caused by cold wave depends on temperature, length of exposure, humidity levels, and the speed at which freezing temperature is reached. It is difficult to predict a definite temperature level up to which crops can tolerate cold wave/frost because many other factors also affect it.
  • Cold wave can cause death and injury to human beings, livestock and wildlife. Higher caloric intake is needed for all animals, including humans to withstand exposure to cold and poor nutritional status can prove deadly in extreme cold conditions.
  • If a cold wave is accompanied by heavy and persistent snow, grazing animals may be unable to get the requisite food. They may die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure or starvation.


IMD definitions for Cold Wave and Cold Day:

  • Wind chill factor plays an important role and brings down the actual minimum temperature depending upon the wind speed. The actual minimum temperature of a station should be reduced to “Wind Chill Effective Minimum Temperature (WCTn)” based on wind chill factor using the relevant WMO criteria.
  • For declaring “Cold Wave” and “Cold Day” WCTn should only be used. If WCTn is 10°C or less, then only the conditions for cold wave should be considered. There is a Cold Wave:
  1. When normal minimum temperature is equal to 10°C or more; Cold Wave if the departure from normal is -5°C to -6°C and ‘Severe Cold Wave’ Departure from normal is-7°C or further.
  2. When normal minimum temperature is less than 10°C; ‘Cold Wave’ – if the departure from normal is -4°C to -5°C and ‘Severe Cold Wave’ Departure from normal is -6°C or less.
  3. When WCTn is 0°C or less, Cold Wave should be declared irrespective of normal minimum temperature of the station. However, this criterion is not applicable for those stations whose normal minimum temperature is below 0°C.


Cold Wave conditions for coastal stations:

  • For coastal stations the threshold value of minimum temperature of 10°C is rarely reached. However, the local people feel discomfort due to wind chill factor which reduces the minimum temperature by a few degrees depending upon the wind speed. For coastal stations, the “Cold Day” concept may be used following the criteria given below:
  1. Actual minimum temperature of a station be reduced to WCTn
  2. This WCTn should be used to declare “Cold Wave” or “Cold Day”
  3. When minimum temperature departure is -5°C or less over a station, “Cold Day” may be described irrespective of threshold value of 10°C
  4. However, when a threshold of 10°C is reached “Cold Wave” be declared.
  5. When a station satisfies both the Cold Wave and Cold Day criteria, then Cold Wave has a higher priority and must be declared.


NDMA Guidelines:



Cold waves: Mitigation measures for people


The State Governments must maintain close coordination with India Meteorological Department (MOES (IMD)) and closely monitor cold wave situation. Warnings should be disseminated to the public through appropriate forums (including local newspapers and radio stations) on a regular basis. Some of the mitigation measures to be followed are shown below:

· Stay indoors as much as possible

· Listen to local radio stations for weather updates

· Eat healthy food to supply heat to the body and drink non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration

· Wear several layers of lightweight and warm clothes; rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.

· Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent loss of body heat.

· Maintain proper ventilation when using kerosene, heater or coal oven to avoid toxic fumes.

· In case of non-availability of heating arrangement, go to public places where heating arrangements are made by administration.

· Cover your head, as most body heat is lost through the top of the head and cover your mouth to protect your lungs.

· Avoid over work. Over exertion can cause heart a ack.

· Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance on fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose.

· Watch for signs of hypothermia (subnormal body temperature): uncontrolled shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Immediately rush to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.

· Stock up on food, water, and other necessities before a cold wave.

· Stock suitable forage before cold waves for livestock

· Keep hospitals in a state of readiness for the admission of victims of frostbite and hypothermia.

Cold waves: Mitigation measures for crops and animals


· Farmers are to provide light irrigation as per need, immediately prune damaged tips of branches or shoot, burn leave/waste material in the orchard to create smoke and manage rejuvenation of damaged crops through pruning of dead material, application of extra doses of fertilizer through foliar sprays.

· Vulnerable crops may be sprayed with water that will paradoxically protect the plants by freezing and absorbing the cold from surrounding air.

· Agencies specializing in animal care should provide necessary advisory and support for the care and protection of animals.

· In cold wave conditions, animal and livestock owners must feed adequately with appropriate feed to avoid animal deaths. They must stock suitable feed or forage before cold wave to feed the livestock.

· They must avoid exposure of animals to extreme cold.


Heat waves:

  • Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures that leads to physiological stress, which sometimes can claim human life.
  • The World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius.
  • Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend until July. Heat waves are more frequent over the Indo-Gangetic plains of India.
  • On an average, 5-6 heat wave events occur every year over the northern parts of the country. In the northern plains of the country, dust in suspension occurs in many years for several days, bringing minimum temperature much higher than normal and keeping the maximum temperature around or slightly above normal.
  • According to IMD, in India, it will be considered as heat wave if the maximum temperature of a met-sub-station reaches at least 40°C or more in the plains, 37°C or more in coastal areas and at least 30°C or more for hilly regions.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves that are more intense in nature with each passing year and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.
  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.


The signs and symptoms are as follows:
  • Heat Cramps: Edema (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39°C
  • Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating
  • Heat Stroke: Body temperatures of 40°C or more along with delirium, seizures or coma, which is a potentially fatal.


Heat waves: Capacity Building

Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting, Early Warning and Zoning/ Mapping:

  • Vulnerability Assessment and Establishing Heat-Health Threshold Temperatures
  • Strengthening and maintaining monitoring and data logging systems for temperature, humidity, etc. required for threshold for heat wave alerts.
  • Establish and maintain community-based network for sharing alerts
  • Modify or customise warnings according to thresholds suitable for the State/UT


Dissemination of warnings, data, and information:

  • Create awareness preventive measures
  • Extensive IEC campaigns to create awareness through print, electronic and social media
  • Specific messages for highly vulnerable groups such as elderly, young children, outdoor workers and slum residents.


Inter-Agency coordination:

  • Ensure the local administration (city/district) can understand and meaningfully use all the heatwave-related information from various agencies and health authorities – central and state
  • Team preparation and coordination – officials and agencies are well prepared for the heat-wave season
  • Coordinate with IMD regarding forecasts, early warning and alert system based on drought severity
  • Appointing a State Nodal Agency and Officer
  • Preparing/Adapting Heat Wave Action Plan
  • Implementation as per specific conditions in the state
  • Establishing First Aid/ Medical Aid facilities in key locations
  • Identify vulnerable places and provide drinking water points at those places and worksites along with ORS
  • Avoiding outdoor games/sports activities.
  • Livestock preparedness during hot weather – ensuring that the livestock has sufficient shade and water on hot days.


Warnings, information, data:

  • Coordinating the dissemination of warnings to all, down to the last mile – remote, rural or urban; Regular updates to people in areas at risk
  • “Do’s-and-Don’ts” during a heat wave should be available in local languages and disseminated through media


Heat waves shelters and other measures:

  • Strengthening/mainstreaming the network medical assistance facilities.
  • Temperature forecasts and heat alerts will be sent as bulk messages on mobile phones, local electronic media
  • Electronic screens at busy traffic intersections and market places
  • Effective transportation
  • Promote cool roofs and heat reducing integrated development.


Awareness Generation:

  • Promoting awareness, alertness and preparedness
  • Training programs for public, PRIs/ ULBs
  • Carry out mass media campaigns in heat-wave prone areas
  • Create awareness of coping with heat waves


Empowering women, marginalised communities, SC/ST, and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development for coping with heat wave emergencies.



  • Floods are relatively slow in occurrences and often occur in well identified regions and within expected time in a year.
  • Floods occur commonly when water in the form of surface run-off exceeds the carrying capacity of the river channels and streams and flows into the neighbouring low-lying flood plains.
  • Sometimes this even goes beyond the capacity of lakes and other inland water bodies in which they flow.
  • Floods can also be caused due to a storm surge, high intensity rainfall for a considerably longer time period, melting of ice and snow, reduction in the infiltration rate and presence of eroded materials in the water due to higher rate of soil erosion.
  • Unlike other natural disasters human beings play important role in the genesis as well as spread of floods. Indiscriminate deforestation, unscientific agricultural practices, disturbances along the natural drainage channels and colonisation of flood plains and river beds are some of the human activities that play an important role in increasing the intensity, magnitude and gravity of the floods.
  • Various states of India face heavy loss of lives and property due to recurrent floods.
  • National Flood Commission has identified 40 million hectares of land as flood prone in India.
  • Assam, West Bengal and Bihar are among the high flood prone states.
  • Apart from these, most of the rivers in the northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are also vulnerable to frequent floods.
  • States like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab are also getting inundated in recent years due to flash floods. This is partly because of the pattern of monsoon and partly because of blocking of most of the streams and rivers by human activities.
  • Sometimes Tamil Nadu experiences flooding during November-January due to retreating monsoon.


Floods: NDMA Guideline

Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting & Early Warning:

  • Preparation of close contour and flood vulnerability maps
  • Modernisation of flood forecasting and warning systems on a river basin basis
  • Assist states/UTs in the identification of priority flood protection and drainage improvement works
  • Monitoring of flood preparedness, river basin and reservoir management plans
  • Studies and monitoring of rivers flowing from neighbouring countries
  • Studies involving international cooperation for forecasting and cross border issues
  • Implementation of the schemes for real-time collection of hydro-meteorological data on important rivers including the relevant rivers flowing from Nepal, Bhutan and China
  • Specialised efforts for different types of floods and causes of flooding, including cloudburst
  • Developing/ improving/ updating forecasting methods and models for quantification of inflows and storage of dams.


Zoning, mapping, and classification flood prone areas:

  • Preparation of large-scale hazard maps of flood prone areas identifying areas of high vulnerability.


Research and Development:

  • Studies on support systems for people living in flood prone areas
  • Evolving designs of shelters in flood prone areas
  • Socio-economic impacts of flood
  • River basin studies
  • Studies on flood related problems such as soil losses caused by flooding of rivers, sediment transport, river course changes, and appropriate use of embankments
  • Promote research and studies – both in-house and extra-mural by providing research grants to researchers and institutions
  • Hydrological and morphological studies before undertaking major flood control or prevention measures.


Dissemination of warnings, data, and information:

  • Quick, clear, effective dissemination among central and state agencies
  • Facilitate the distribution of necessary communication equipment, last-mile connectivity and access to disaster risk information
  • International cooperation to share warnings about rivers flowing from neighbouring countries
  • Promoting reliable networking systems for data and information sharing among central and state agencies
  • Monitoring of landslides and blockages in rivers
  • Warning systems
  • Providing information in all possible ways and using all types of media
  • Interface with mobile network service providers for warnings.


Inter-agency coordination:

  • Effective coordination and seamless communication among central and state agencies to ensure quick, clear, effective dissemination of warnings, information and data.


Structural Measures:

  • Flood control measures such as construction of embankments and levees.
  • Proper alignment and design of Waterways and drainage systems for roads, highways, and expressways.
  • Enhancing the safety of dams and reservoirs.
  • Desilting/ dredging of rivers to improve flow; drainage improvement; floodwater diversion through existing or new channels.
  • Hazard resistant construction, strengthening, and retrofitting of all lifeline structures and critical infrastructure.

Awareness Generation:

  • Carry out mass media campaigns
  • Promote culture of disaster risk prevention, mitigation, and beer risk management
  • Promote attitude and behaviour change in the awareness campaigns/ IEC
  • Strengthening network of civil society organization for awareness generation about DRR and DM
  • Promote use of insurance/ risk transfer
  • Promote Community Radio

Mock drills or exercises:

  • Promote planning and execution of emergency drills by all ministries and in all States/UT’s


Vocational Training/ Skill Development:

  • Promoting skill development for multi-hazard resistant construction in flood-prone areas for different types of housing and infrastructure.


Empowering women, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development covering all aspects of disaster management.


Community-Based Disaster Management

  • Training for PRI, SHG, NCC, NSS, youth, local community organizations
  • Strengthen ability of communities to manage and cope with disasters based on a multi-hazard approach.



  • There is no globally adopted operational definition for drought applicable to all contexts.
  • This is the primary reason why policy makers, resource planners, and other decision-makers as well as administrators have considerable difficulty recognising and planning for drought than they do for other disasters.
  • Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2015 notes that agricultural drought is probably the most “socially constructed” of all disaster risks (UNISDR 2015) and warns that due to global climate change, its frequency is expected to vary much.
  • To determine the beginning of drought, operational definitions specify the degree of departure from the long-term (usually at least 30 years) average of precipitation or some other climatic variable.
  • Broadly, drought is perceived as sharply felt water deficit caused by variations in the natural hydro-metrological factors, agro-ecological conditions, moisture requirements of crops under prevailing cropping choices (systems, patterns).
  • The WMO considers drought as a slow creeping natural hazard that occurs in part due to the natural climatic variability.
  • In recent years, concern has grown world-wide that droughts may be increasing in frequency due to climate change.
  • Responses to droughts in most parts of the world are generally reactive in terms of crisis management and are known to be untimely, poorly coordinated and disintegrated. Conceptually, drought is characterised by a protracted period of deficient precipitation resulting in water deficits, extensive crop damage, resulting in loss of yield.
  • Droughts affect vast areas of the country, transcending State boundaries. A third of the country is drought prone. Recurrent drought results in widespread adverse impact on people’s livelihoods and young children’s nutrition status.
  • It affects parts of Rajasthan (chronically), Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Droughts cause severe distress in the affected areas.
  • Drought is a phenomenon that is widely considered as a ‘creeping disaster’ whose onset, end, and severity are difficult to determine.
  • Unlike the suddenly occurring disasters, a drought may develop very slowly over several months affecting very large geographical area without causing little or no structural damage.
  • The impacts depend on natural conditions, socio-economic situations, and the kind of land and water resources as well as the use patterns in the affected region.
  • Mostly, the occurrence of droughts is a result of natural climate variability in all the drought-prone regions and it usually exhibits a certain pattern of occurrence.
  • While droughts are quite frequent in arid and semi-arid regions, it can occur even in humid regions blessed with abundant rainfall with lower frequency.
  • The capacity to cope depends largely on the technical, institutional, political, and social mechanisms to manage the water resources anticipating the severity of the drought.
  • Effective mitigation measures must prevent a drought turning into a famine due to water and food shortages. Drought results from long period of dry weather and insufficient precipitation, which causes acute dry conditions.


The National Commission on Agriculture in India defines three types of droughts:


Meteorological drought Defined as a situation when there is more than 25% decrease from the long-term average precipitation over an area.
Agricultural drought Signifying the situation on when soil moisture and rainfall are inadequate to support healthy crop growth.
Hydrological drought Resulting from prolonged meteorological drought manifested in depletion of surface and sub-surface water resources, which could occur even when the rainfall is normal, if there has been a substantial reduction in surface water holding capacity.


The IMD recognizes five drought situations:

  • ‘Drought Week’ when the weekly rainfall is less than half of the normal
  • ‘Agricultural Drought’ when four drought weeks occur consecutively during mid-June to September
  • ‘Seasonal Drought’ when seasonal rainfall is deficient by more than the standard deviation from the normal.
  • ‘Drought Year’ when annual rainfall is deficient by 20 per cent of normal or more, and
  • ‘Severe Drought Year’ when annual rainfall is deficient by 25 to 40 per cent of normal or more.


In the absence of an unambiguous criterion, the NDMA Guideline on ‘Management of Drought’ notes that there is a need to develop a multi-criteria index to classify droughts based on several factors such as the following:

  • Meteorological (rainfall, temperature, etc.)
  • Soil conditions (depth, type, available water content, etc.)
  • Surface water use (proportion of irrigated area, surface water supplies, etc.)
  • Ground water (availability, utilisation, etc.)
  • Crop (cropping pattern changes, land use, crop conditions, anomalies in crop condition, etc.)
  • Socio-economic (proportion of weaker sections, poverty, size class of farm holdings, etc.)



Droughts: NDMA Guideline


Vulnerability mapping:

  • Block-wise rainfall deficit maps in the relevant regions – at crucial stages of monsoon (e.g., early, middle, and end), separately for SW and NE monsoon
  • Comprehensive assessment of water deficit in dry-land farming, rain-fed, and drought-prone areas every year, at the end of the SW and NE monsoons (stream flow, surface and groundwater)
  • Agro-climatic region wise water deficit assessment reports for relevant regions separately at the end of SW and NE monsoon
  • Provide technical assistance to the State Govt./SDMC to prepare vulnerability maps.


Assessment, Monitoring, Forecasting, Early Warning:

  • Improve the drought forecast, and assessment of water deficit (likely mismatch between estimates of requirements and availability) in the arid/semi-arid, drought-prone, and dry-land farming areas
  • Prepare detailed advisories on water conservation and crop management measures based on drought and water deficit in consultation with experts for each State/UT which is likely to face acute water deficit
  • Monitoring key drought indices at National and State levels as per latest national manual for drought management
  • Developing composite index of various drought indicators relevant to each agro-climatic zone
  • Develop a multi-criteria method based on various indices (vegetation, soil, water availability, etc.) as standardised framework for drought forecasting considering agro-climatic zones.


Drought declaration:

  • Apply the latest (most updated) criteria and methods for assessment of drought conditions and key indicators for declaring drought, as per latest recommendations of the appropriate agency
  • Collaborate with State Government and its agencies for monitoring/ declaration of drought
  • Separately, after end of SW and NE monsoon, if applicable, initiate consultations to provide drought advisory to states by end of October for regions covered by SW monsoon and by end of March for regions relevant to NE monsoon.



  • Agricultural research focussed on drought-prone areas, arid/semi-arid tracts, and dry-land farming areas.
  • Research related to water conservation and management.

Inter-agency coordination:

  • Effective coordination and seamless communication among central and state agencies to ensure quick, clear, effective dissemination of warnings, information and data.


Structural Measures:

  • Ensure rainwater harvesting and storage in drought-prone areas, water conservation structures, integrated water resources management and drinking water storage and distribution facilities.


Non-structural measures:

  • Promote water efficient irrigation systems (sprinklers, drip, etc.)
  • Promote protective irrigation through micro irrigation systems
  • Provide advice to farmers to cope with drought, crop management under drought conditions, and efficient water management
  • Training in water and soil moisture conservation
  • Promote village-level information systems for natural resource management.


Agricultural credit, agricultural inputs, finance, marketing, and crop insurance:

  • Provide credit and financing products relevant to the drought-prone areas
  • Promote agricultural insurance programmes and ensure that farmers are informed about the availability of insurance products
  • Ensure risk cover for dry-land / rain-fed farmers who face very high rainfall uncertainty and dependent agricultural workers.


Drought management plan:

  • Support the preparation of drought management plans based on detailed projections of water deficit in the drought-prone areas taking into account agro-climatic zones
  • Provide advisory to the states having large areas that may face drought/ acute water deficit.


Awareness Generation:

  • Carry out mass media campaigns
  • Promote culture of disaster risk prevention, mitigation, and beer risk management
  • Promote attitude and behaviour change in the awareness campaigns/ IEC
  • Strengthening network of civil society organization for awareness generation about DRR and DM.
  • Promote use of insurance/ risk transfer
  • Promote Community Radio

Empowering women, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development covering all aspects of disaster management.


  • Landslides occur in the hilly regions of India such as the Himalaya, North-East India, the Nilgiris, Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats.
  • It is estimated that 30 per cent of the World’s landslides occur in the Himalayan
  • The Himalayan range, which constitutes the youngest and most dominating ng mountain system in the World, is not a single long landmass but comprises a series of seven curvilinear parallel folds running along a grand arc for a total of 3,400 kilometres.
  • Landslides are also common in Western Ghat. In the Nilgiris, in 1978 alone, unprecedented rains in the region triggered about one hundred landslides which caused severe damage to communication lines, tea gardens and other cultivated crops.
  • Scientific observations in north Sikkim and Garhwal regions in the Himalayas clearly reveal that there is an average of two landslides per sq. km.
  • The mean rate of land loss is to the tune of 120 meter per km per year and annual soil loss is about 2500 tons per sq. km.
  • Landslides have been a major and widely spread natural disaster that often affect life and property, leading to major concern.
  • It is estimated that economic loss due to landslides may reach between 1-2% of the gross national product in many developing countries.
  • Evaluating and mitigating the landslide hazard and risk is a major challenge for the technocrats and decision makers in the developing world as 80% of the reported fatalities due to landslide is within the developing countries.
  • In India, about 0.42 million sq. km or 12.6% of land area, excluding snow covered area, is prone to landslide hazard. Out of this, 0.18 million sq. km falls in North East Himalaya, including Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya; 0.14 million sq. km falls in North West Himalaya (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir); 0.09 million sq. km in Western Ghats and Konkan hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra) and 0.01 million sq. km in Eastern Ghats of Aruku area in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The landslide-prone Himalayan terrain falls in the maximum earthquake-prone zones (Zone-IV and V; BIS 2002) where earthquakes of Modified Mercalli intensity VIII to IX can occur, and thus, are also prone to earthquake-triggered landslides. The most recent example is the aftermath of 18 September 2011 Sikkim Earthquake in the Sikkim-Darjeeling Himalayas.



Roles and Responsibilities
  • Geological Survey of India- the nodal agency for landslide studies
  • Geological Survey of India as a Nodal Agency is responsible for:
  • Coordinating and undertaking geological studies for landslide hazard mitigation
  • Carrying out landslide hazard zonation
  • Monitoring landslides and avalanches
  • Studying the factors responsible for sliding and suggesting precautionary as well as preventive measure National Core Group has finalized the action plan for landslide studies with inputs of GSI and other organization.


Salient Features of Action Plan
  • Finalisation of uniform methodologies for Landslide Hazard Zonation (LHZ) on macro scales and meso scales
  • Carrying out Landslide Hazard Zonation of vulnerable areas on macro scales:


    • 10,000 km communication routes to be covered on macro scales
    • Identify critical slopes and prioritise areas for detailed studies
    • State Governments to suggest routes for this exercise and GSI to carry survey


Carrying out Landslide Hazard Zonation of identified areas on meso scales:

  • To cover inhabited or sites proposed for infrastructural development
  • 20- 25 sites to be taken up initially, 10 sites to be taken up by GSI and rest by other agencies
  • A committee comprising IIT- Roorkee, CBRI, NIRM, CRRI, CWC, IMD, THDC etc to distribute work to those willing to work in identified areas in time bound manner


Carrying out monitoring of landslides

  • Slides that pose danger to communication routes or could cause blockade of drainages to be monitored continuously


To evolve an Early Warning System:

  • Need for evolving Early Warning System for landslide has been long felt. Isolated work has been done by some agencies. This is an area where considerable amount of research is required. This is due to the fact that several factors, combined or individually, directly or indirectly, trigger landslides.


To prepare Inventory/ Database on LHZ:

  • Landslide Inventories are most important for any prediction model on Early Warning to be successful. GSI has developed a format and circulated it to States & Agencies like BRO, CPWD etc. for reporting landslide incidences for input towards updating inventory. GSI has developed and published an inventory of about 1000 landslide incidences from NW Himalayas, Eastern Himalayas & North-eastern states. The inventory has to be updated regularly and for this the cooperation from BRO, CPWD, Armed Forces, agencies engaged in infrastructure development and state departments like Forest, PWD, is required.


Awareness Generation:

  • GSI to develop awareness strategy and to take up awareness programmes in consultation with State Governments in hazard prone areas
  • Another responsibility given to GSI is to arrange a one day workshop with the aim to present GSI’s point of view and interact with State Governments and other agencies active in the field of landslides.
  • Aim is to raise awareness at various levels through Media Campaigns, Development & distribution of leaflets/ posters, Meetings & Workshops etc.



  • Any agency carrying out Landslide Hazard Mitigation or States engaging agencies for carrying out LHZ may get approval from GSI with a view to: (a) avoid duplication of work and (b) ensure that LHZ is carried out as per the prescribed parameters. After completion of work copy of report may be shared with GSI for record. GSI will report to the National Core Group in MHA through Joint Secretary & Central Relief Commissioner periodically on the progress made on different items.



The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has released National Landslide Risk Management Strategy (NLRMS).

  • Landslide Hazard Zonation: It recommends Landslide Hazard Zonation maps to be prepared at macro scale and meso level. It focuses on making use of advanced state-of the-art tools such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Terrestrial Laser Scanner, and very high-resolution Earth Observation (EO) data.
  • Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System: Technical recommendation for developing and implementing rainfall thresholds, Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), Automatic Rain Gauges, etc. have been included.
  • Awareness Programs: A participatory approach has been defined so that each section of the community is involved in the awareness drive. Since the community is the first to confront the disaster before any aid reaches them, a mechanism of awareness is framed to involve and educate the community.
  • Capacity Building and Training of Stakeholders: Creation of Centre for Landslide Research Studies and Management (CLRSM) to create a techno-scientific pool of expertise in the country.


    • Mass Gatherings (Crowd)
    • Forest Fires
    • Chemical Disasters
    • Biological Emergencies
    • Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies
    • Climate Emergencies
    • Urban Flooding

Emergencies Associated with Mass Gatherings

  • Throughout the country, frequently, there are various kinds of events that a attract crowds large and small, at varying types and styles of venue.
  • The degree and quality of preparedness to cope with expected or unforeseen emergencies arising from such events vary greatly.
  • Inadequate planning can increase risks associated with insufficient or ineffective spectator management or service provision.
  • The evidence lies in the large number of public events where multiple injuries, illness and deaths have occurred.
  • Emergencies and disastrous incidents associated with mass gatherings is a world-wide phenomenon.
  • During festivals or events attracting mass gathering – railways, roadways and airways may experience unexpected temporary surge in number of people at such locations.
  • Agencies responsible for operation and management at such places would need to include “crowding” and ‘crowd behaviour’ as hazard risk while formulating strategic plan for public safety.
  • Accordingly, it will be necessary to pay attention to implementing special arrangement necessary for managing the crowds and crowd behaviour.
  • For the benefit of the state governments, local authorities and other agencies, NDMA has published a guideline on mass gatherings.
  • Depending on the event, there could be surge in number of people at railway stations, bus terminals and airports.
  • NDMA Guidelines paves way in formulating public safety plan by agencies like railways, bus transport and airways.
  • These plans are to be developed in consultation with local authorities and event administrator/ organiser.
  • As crowd disasters are local events, disaster management is primarily the responsibility of the organizers and local/district administration with support, guidelines from the state and the national authorities.
  • While planning events, organisers tend to overlook likely emergencies that could arise or fail to consider major emergencies and the worst-case scenarios.
  • It is necessary to recognise that such risks are inevitably associated with large events, and therefore call for appropriate planning and preparation.
  • Planning for public events requires cooperation between event organisers and relevant government, private and community organisations.
  • Quite simply, the decisions of one party in the planning stage can have an impact on the preparedness of another, so a sharing of knowledge and information is imperative prior to the event.
  • While event promoters or managers have primary responsibility for planning and preparation, the involvement of health professionals and emergency managers in the pre-event planning phase may contribute to a safer, and therefore more successful, event.


The NDMA guideline lists six major causes and triggers for crowd disasters which are summarised below, but are described in detail in the guideline:



The infrastructure, conditions and arrangements at the venue may not be adequate (collapse of barricades, fencing, temporary structures, insufficient exit, difficult terrain, slippery/muddy roads, etc.)
Fire/Electricity Risky practices involving fire and electricity ranging from makeshift facilities, shops, cooking, careless use of easily inflammable materials, non-availability or malfunctioning fire extinguishers, illegal electric connections, and many such possibilities.
Crowd Control Crowds exceeding the capacity of the venue, poor management resulting in confusion and failure of all orderliness, not having enough emergency exits, inadequacy of systems to effectively communicate with the crowd and similar problems.
Crowd Behaviour There are numerous issues known to be associated with the behaviour of crowds which is different from what is expected from an individual that tend to worsen emergency situations that may include unruly, irresponsible and angry responses.
Security Under deployment of security personnel to regulate to control crowd, flaws in the planning of security arrangements.
Lack of Coordination between Stakeholders Significant coordination gap between agencies associated with the organising of the event and authorities.


Recent examples of stampedes:


  • According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), almost 2000 people have been died due to stampedes during 2000-2013.
  • According to International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, religious gatherings and pilgrimages have been venues for 78% of stampedes in India.



NDMA guidelines on crowd management:

  • In view of the recurring stampedes at places of mass gathering, including religious places, and typically ad-hoc responses to those, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had prepared ‘Suggestive Framework for Preparation of Crowd Management Plan for Events/Venues of Mass Gathering’.


Recent examples of stampedes:


Understanding venue, visitors and stakeholders:

  • The basic element for event planning and crowd management is understanding the venue, visitors and different stakeholders.
  • It requires understanding of Type of event(such as religious, schools/ university, sports event, music event, political event, product promotion etc.); Expected Crowd (age, gender, economic strata), Crowd Motives (such as social, academic, religious, entertainment, economic etc.); Venue (location, topography of area, temporal or permanent, open or closed), and role of other stake holders (such as NGOs, neighbours of event venue, local administrators etc.)


Crowd Handling

  • Traffic around the mass gatherings should be properly regulated.
  • There should be a route map for venues along with emergency exits route maps.
  • There should Barricade facility to control the movement of crowd queues.
  • Snake line approach should be followed in large crowd queues
  • The organizers of crowded events/venue managers should discourage general admissions and have plans to handle VIP visitors or, alternatively, refuse entry to VIPs where it adds to safety concerns.


Safety and Security:

  • The venue Organisers should ensure authorised use of electricity, fire safety extinguishers and other arrangements as per the safety guidelines.
  • It suggests use of CCTV cameras to monitor crowds and use of mini UAV incase crowd spread is too big.



  • A public address system, with loudspeakers installed at all crowded points, to communicate with the crowds.


Medical and Emergency care:

  • Medical first-aid rooms and emergency operations centres to handle post-disaster emergencies should be set up.


Role of Event Managers:

  • The event organizers and venue managers should develop, implement, review and revise the disaster management plan in coordination with others including local administration and police.


Role of Civil society:

  • Event/venue managers can involve NGOs and civil defence in traffic control, people flow control, medical assistance, sanitation and mobilization of local resources in case of disaster.


Role of police:

  • The police should actively participate in venue assessment and preparedness checks and guide crowd and traffic movements.


Capacity Building:

  • Capacity building, conducting drills, periodic assessment of training of security personnel, police is essential to prevent crowd disasters.

Forest Fires:

  • India is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world having nearly seven lakh square kilometres of forest cover.
  • Increasing human interference is a major cause for the incidents of the forest fires.
  • Despite its natural and essential roles, fire has negative consequences when it conflicts with the public interest.
  • Examples of negative impacts include loss of homes, property and critical infrastructure, damage to domestic watersheds and destruction of commercially valuable timber.
  • Smoke from forest fires can also interfere with road and air transportation, inhibit tourism, and cause serious public health problems.
  • It is also a threat to human settlements, dwelling within or adjacent to the forests.
  • Forest fires in India are generally ground fires.
  • As per Forest Survey of India (FSI), which has been conducting field investigation since 1965, human activities trigger nearly 95 per cent of the forest fires in India.
  • Forest fire is a major cause of injury and loss to forests.
  • Area affected by forest fire annually is nearly 35 million hectares.
  • In general, all over the world the main causes of forest fires are anthropogenic.
  • The data on forest fires in India is very weak and needs to be improved.
  • FSI’s 1995 data considers nearly 50 per cent of the forest areas as fire prone with 43 per cent having occasional fire incidents.
  • According to this assessment, very high, high, and frequent forest fires occur in 0.84 per cent, 0.14 per cent and 5.16 per cent of the forest areas respectively.
  • The moist deciduous forest is the most vulnerable to fire in India.
  • Nearly 15 per cent of this ecosystem is frequently disturbed by fire and 60 per cent is occasionally affected. In the case of wet/semi— evergreen forests, fire occur somewhat frequently in nine per cent, and occasionally in additional 40 per cent.
  • In the North-Eastern region of India, recurrent fires annually affect up to 50 per cent of the forests.
  • The coniferous forests in the Himalayan region are also very fire prone with many wildfires occurring during the winter drought.
  • The proportion of the forest areas prone to forest fire ranges greatly across different states.
  • The traditional view of fire as a destructive agent requiring immediate suppression has given way to the view that fire can and should be used to meet land management goals under specific ecological conditions.
  • The impact of the fire is diverse on the forest ecosystem. Besides directly damaging the forest, the fire also adversely affects forest regeneration, microclimate, soil erosion, and wildlife etc.
  • In most of the cases, the forest fire causes retrogression of forest vegetation. Forest fire is one of the major degenerating factors, which extensively damages the growing stock and its generations and making area vulnerable to erosion. It has wide-ranging adverse ecological, economic and social implications.


The states with frequent occurrence of forest fires are:

  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Karnataka
  • Manipur
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Nagaland
  • Orissa
  • Rajasthan
  • Telangana
  • Uttar Pradesh and


Reasons for forest fires:

  • Reasons for forest fires
    • Natural causes
    • Anthropological causes


Natural Causes:

  • Global warming: Increasing global temperature due to intensive industrialisation and resultant dryness have played havoc on forest. Since 2017, there is 125% surge in forest fire incidents in India.
  • Heat waves, solar flares: The periodic solar cycle of solar minimum and solar maximum causes abrupt increase in temperature of the earth. Such events cause forest fires.
  • Monoculture growth of forest: Single strand of forest tree species are more vulnerable to forest fires. Pine forests in Uttarakhand is such an example. According to Forest Survey of India, 50% of forest in Uttarakhand is prone to fires.
  • Deciduous forest: India’s majority of forest cover is deciduous which provides specific seasons for forest fires during dry periods.
  • Climate change: Climate change is natural phenomenon though during recent years it is highly induced by human activities causes changes in temperature, humidity. This alterations in micro climate give rise to forest fires.

Anthropological Reasons:

  • Human interventions in forest: Over the years Urbanisation, industrialisation have come at the cost of forests. Forests were cleared for human settlements, mineral exploration, industrial establishments etc. This has been resulted into degraded forest.
  • Deforestation: Human settlements, multipurpose projects like large dams, mines development required clearing of forests. Generally, such clearing were done by setting forests on fires as it is cheapest and easy way to clear the forest.
  • Deliberate act of arson: Timber mafias indulge into illegal exploitation of timber resources of forests. As they were unable to do it legally, they tend to resort on deliberate forest fires.
  • Unattended camp fires: Unscientific tourism in forest areas, left over burning camp fires due negligence are also causing fires. Such camps are becoming dumping grounds for discarded cigarettes, beedi buds.
  • Migration: People are migrating to urban areas for better life opportunities. Villages are deserted because of increased incidences of forest fires. This has resulted into low community participation in forest management.
  • Shifting agriculture: Small patches of forest land are cleared by setting tress on fires. Though it increases soil fertility for shorter time, it poses dangers of forest fires over the long period.

Effects of forest fires:

  • Migration: Frequent forest fires compel the people to migrate to safer areas. This causes desertification of villages, pressure on natural resources.
  • Loss of ecosystem and biodiversity: Forest fires damages the rich flora and fauna. Death of animals, man-animal conflicts are major negative outcomes of forest fires.
  • Human health: Increased air pollution may damage the respiratory system of humans. It may also cause lung cancer, eye itching, skin cancer etc.
  • Albedo: Forest fires emit black carbon on large scale. Such small particles of black carbon gets deposited on snow. And snow is best medium of sunlight reflection. Thus melting of snow affects the albedo of snow which in turn causes global warming.
  • Forest degradation: Forest fires have negative impact on quality of forests. Frequent forest fires not only degrade the forests but also increases the desertification.
  • Climate change: Climate change is pressing problem humanity facing nowadays. Forest fires can only increase the intensity of climate change.
  • Soil fertility: Forest fires can increase the soil fertility as it adds black carbon to the soil. But degradation of forests decreases the soil microbial activities. Thus, in the long run forest fires have negative impacts on forest soil.
  • Economic losses: Less availability of forest wood for pulp industries, firewood, infrastructure development can result into major economic losses. According to Forest Survey of India, forest fires costs $1.5 billion of GDP.

Forest fires: NDMA Guideline

Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting, Early Warning and Zoning/ Mapping:

  • Employ a system of fire risk classification based on best available methods such as those using satellites
  • Technical support in mapping forest fire vulnerability areas using satellites
  • Seasonal forest-fire monitoring and assessment
  • Strengthen coordination between different ministries
  • Strengthen the early detection and warning
  • Operationalise a system of near real-me monitoring of forest fires using best technologies available such as low flying aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and drones
  • Near Real-Time monitoring of forest fires
  • Studies/ assessments of areas prone to forest fires, ecological aspects, wildlife concerns
  • Conduct a detailed fire history to determine the frequency, distribution, and severity of wildfire.


Dissemination of warnings, data, and information:

  • Create awareness for forest fire prevention as most fires are caused by humans, deliberately or inadvertently
  • Establishing reliable system to pass on the correct information on fire situation to communities and responders
  1. Inter-agency coordination:
  • Preparation and implementation of DM plans and ensure the functioning of agencies with DM tasks
  • All aspects of disaster risk management and mainstreaming DRR
  • Ensuring coherence and mutual reinforcement of DRR and development.
  • Effective coordination and seamless communication among central and state agencies to ensure quick, clear, effective dissemination of warnings, information and data

Structural Measures:

  • Strengthening forest-fire fighting systems by deploying aircrafts, helicopters, UAV, drones and equipment.
  • Strengthening various forest fire prevention measures
  • Communication network of wireless system
  • Effective transportation
  • Specialised equipment to fight forest fires
  • Improved fire-resistant clothing
  • Strengthening the network of watch towers
  • Expanding fire detection systems
  • Hazard resistant construction, strengthening, and retrofitting of all lifeline structures and critical infrastructure near forest area and in forest villages


Techno-legal measures:

  • Strengthen the laws and regulations for forest fire prevention and control
  • Improve the institutional arrangements for forest fire prevention and control
  • Promote use of insurance/ risk transfer

Human Resource:

  • Training and orientation programs for state govt. staff, and other stakeholders such as: civil society, volunteers, elected representatives.
  • Incorporating prevention and management of forest fires in the training programs of village volunteers


Awareness Generation:

  • Promoting awareness, alertness and preparedness
  • Training programs for public, PRIs/ ULBs
  • Carry out mass media campaigns in forest fire prone areas
  • Create awareness of forest fire prevention and control
  • Strengthening network of community involvement in forest fire reporting, prevention and assistance to controlling.


Empowering women, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development covering all aspects of disaster management.

Current Developments:


  • Intensification of Forest Management Scheme was revised and replaced as Forest Fire Prevention & Management Scheme in December 2017.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme with an aim to focus solely on the issue of forest fire prevention & management and related activities, to address growing concern over adverse effects of forest fire.
  • Funding Pattern:
    • For Normal States: 60:40 between centre and states.
    • NE and Himalayan states: 90:10 between centre and states
    • For Union Territory: 100% central funding
  • Monitoring and Evaluation o At National level, MoEFCC will review the scheme and will also carry out third party evaluation after every 3 years.
  • At State Level, State Forest Department will be responsible for regular monitoring and review of achievement under the scheme.

  • Forest Survey of India (FSI) launched beta-version of the Large Forest Fire Monitoring Programme.


  • It aims to improve tactical as well as strategic response to large forest fires by disseminating specific Large Fire alerts with the objective to identify, track and report serious forest fire incidents.
  • It is part of the Fire Alert System (FAST) Version 3.0, where the FSI will monitor forest fire events using real time data from the satellite sensors.

Chemical (Industrial) Disasters:

  • With rapid economic development, there has been spread of industries from small to large across the country.
  • There is relatively higher presence of industrial sector along the west coast, largely due to the proximity to raw materials and ports.
  • The states with very large number of chemical industries are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Tamil Nadu (TN), MP, and Punjab.
  • Due to the regional concentration of chemical companies in certain pockets, the chemical hazard has increased many folds.
  • The growth of industries has led to an increase in the risk of occurrence of incidents associated with hazardous chemicals (HAZCHEM) and hazardous materials (HAZMAT).
  • These events occur due to mishaps or failures in industry and negligence in following international codes and standards for chemical handling which affects the industrial functioning, and productivity.
  • While the common causes for chemical accidents are deficiencies in safety management systems or human errors, natural calamities or sabotage may also trigger such accidents.
  • Chemical/ industrial accidents are significant and have long term impact on the community and environment. It leads to injuries, pain, suffering, loss of lives, damage to property and environment.
  • Hence, a robust plan and mitigation measure needs to be adapted to overcome the hazard.
  • The suggestions from several industry associations have recommended the implementation of the updated and relevant International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) standards to production and storage of chemicals.


Industrial disasters in India:


Bombay Docks Explosion (1944)


On April 14, 1944, the freighter SS Fort Stikine, carrying a mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold and ammunition including tons of explosives, caught fire and resulted in two massive blasts in the Victoria Dock of Bombay. Ships in the area of the explosion sank after the impact. 800 people died in the explosion and some 80,000 were made homeless.
Chasnala Mining Disaster (1975)


On December 27, 1975, a huge explosion rocked the Chasnala Colliery in Dhanbad (then under Bihar) killing 372 miners. The explosion is supposed to have caused by sparks from equipment igniting a pocket of flammable methane gas. The flooding in the mine drowned the miners trapped under the debris.
The Union Carbide Gas Tragedy (1984)


In what is the biggest industrial disaster of the last hundred years in India, 5295 people died and 5,27,894 were affected after being exposed to some 40 tonne of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by the US multinational, Union Carbide Corp, in Bhopal. It has been more than 35 years since the incident which happened on December 3, 1984, but there is still a massive debate on the number of people affected. Some activists estimate around 20,000 to 25,000 deaths.
Korba Chimney Collapse (2009)


On the September 23, 2009, 45 people lost their lives when a chimney under construction at a power plant at the Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) collapsed in Korba in Chhattisgarh. The structure had reached a height of 240 metres when it collapsed on top of more than 100 workers due to incessant rainfall and lightning in the area.
Jaipur Oil Depot Fire (2009)

On October 29, 2009, an oil fire broke out at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot’s giant tank in the Sitapura Industrial Area on the outskirts of Jaipur, killing 12 people and injuring at least 130. The blaze continued for more than a week and half a million people were evacuated from the area post the incident.
Mayapuri Radiological Accident (2010)

A big radiation scare hit the national capital ten years ago when one person was killed and 8 others hospitalised at AIIMS after exposure to radioactive substances at the Mayapuri scrap yard in West Delhi. The event was rated level 4 out of 7 on the International Nuclear Events Scale.
Visakhapatnam HPCL Refinery Blast (2013)

23 people were killed on August 23, 2013, when a blast caused due to sparks originating from welding after a heavy build-up of hydrocarbons in a pipeline, led to the collapse of the cooling tower in the HPCL refinery in Visakhapatnam.
Nagaram GAIL pipeline explosion (2014)

18 people were killed and around 40 injured when in June 2014, a massive fire broke out after a blast in the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) underground gas pipeline in the coastal village of Nagaram in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
Bhilai Steel Plant Gas Leak (2014)

Six people were killed and over 40 injured due to a leakage in methane gas pipeline at a water pump house in the Bhilai Steel Plant in Durg district in Chattisgarh.
Tughlakabad Gas Leak (2017)

As many as 200 school students of the Rani Jhansi School for Girls were admitted to four hospitals after a chemical gas leakage from a container truck at the customs area of Tughlakabad depot in South Delhi.
Kanpur Ammonia Gas Leak (2017)

On the March 15, 2017, Ammonia leaked from the gas chamber of a cold storage facility at Shivrajpur in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Many farmers were trapped inside the building, waiting to stock the potato harvest, when the tragedy occurred. Five people were killed and nine others injured in the incident.
Belur Chlorine Gas Leak (2017)

More than 10 people took ill and were rushed to the hospital following a chlorine gas leak at a water treatment plant at Gandehalli in Belur near Hassan in South Karnataka in May 2017.
Bhilai Steel Plant Pipeline Blast (2018)

An explosion in a gas pipeline connected to the coke oven section of the Steel Plant in Bhilai in Durg district of Chhattisgarh, operated by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) resulted in the death of 9 people while injuring 14 others.
LG Polymers, Visakhapatnam (2020)

Visakhapatnam on Thursday woke up to a gas leak at Korean company LG Polymers. Styrene gas leaked from the plant which left at least 7 dead and 1000 others sick. Over 3000 people were evacuated to safety as the leak spread. The gas caused the breathlessness and a burning sensation in the eyes. People started vomiting and fell unconscious


Industrial disasters: Statistics

  • Since May 2020, there have been 30 industrial accidents in India, killing at least 75 workers, according to IndustriALL, a global union of workers.
  • From 2014 to 2017, 8,004 such incidents occurred in Indian workplaces killing 6,368 employees. Most such incidents took place in Delhi, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.


Legislations to Protect Against Chemical Disasters in India:

Laws Before and During Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984):

  • At the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was the only relevant law specifying criminal liability for such incidents.


Laws After Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984):

  • Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985: It gives powers to the central government to secure the claims arising out of or connected with the Bhopal gas tragedy. Under the provisions of this Act, such claims are dealt with speedily and equitably.
  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986: It gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991: It is an insurance meant to provide relief to persons affected by accidents that occur while handling hazardous substances.
  • The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997: Under this Act, the National Environment Appellate Authority can hear appeals regarding the restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • National Green Tribunal, 2010: It provided for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of case related to environmental protection and conservation of forests.


Industrial disasters: NDMA Guideline


Information system, monitoring, research:

  • Online information system on HAZCHEM conforming to international standards
  • Chemical Accident Information Reporting System
  • Information on dealing with HAZCHEM
  • Research on effective management of HAZCHEM
  • National Hazardous Waste Information System (NHWIS)
  • Promote research and studies – both in-house and extra-mural by providing research grants to researchers and institutions
  • Promote R&D for indigenous manufacture of quality personal protection equipment most of which are currently imported
  • Studies on improving occupational safety


Zoning or mapping:

  • Industrial zones on basis of hazard potential and effective disaster management for worst case scenarios for Major Accident Hazard (MAH) Units
  • Separate zoning for sing of MAH units
  • Carry out the mapping and related studies in collaboration with central agencies/ technical organizations.


Inter-agency coordination:

  • Preparation and implementation of DM plans and ensure the functioning of agencies with DM tasks
  • All aspects of disaster risk management and mainstreaming DRR.
  • Effective coordination and seamless communication among central and state agencies to ensure quick, clear, effective dissemination of warnings, information and data.


Structural Measures:

  • Identification of shelters with basic facilities like drinking water and first aid for chemical exposure
  • Ensuring water storage facilities and sources for water for accident containment and firefighting operations
  • Providing wide roads and multiple routes in the industrial area to allow quick access by first responders and to ensure escape pathways
  • Establish decontamination facilities for off-site emergencies of MAH units.


Non-structural measures:

  • Formulate/ strengthen rules, norms, and laws such as factories rules consistent with that of ensuring greater safety in hazardous industries and to reduce likelihood of disasters
  • Review land use norms for the sing of hazardous industries


Empower factory inspectorates to take legal actions for noncompliance of MSIHC Rules
  • Review rules to grant compensation to chemical accident victims to improve them in favour of victims
  • Amend land use norms to ensure greater safety and to ensure buffer zones without human settlements in close proximity of hazardous industries


Training for stakeholders:

  • Training and orientation programs on management and disposal of HAZCHEM
  • Training support for SDRF, community, and volunteers


Curriculum development:

  • Promote inclusion of more specialisations and electives on HAZCHEM and chemical disaster management.
  • Review and address gaps in medical education at different levels with respect to emergency medical response.
  • Review the specialisation needs in the area of dealing with victims of chemical disasters
  • Review and take steps to improve the facilities required to treat victims of chemical disasters.


Empowering women, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities:

  • Incorporating gender sensitive and equitable approaches in capacity development covering all aspects of disaster management.

Biological and public health emergencies:

  • Disasters related to this sub-group are biological emergencies and epidemics, pest attacks, cale epidemics and food poisoning.
  • Biological emergency is one caused due to natural outbreaks of epidemics or intentional use of biological agents (viruses and microorganisms) or toxins through dissemination of such agents in ways to harm human population, food crops and livestock to cause outbreaks of diseases.
  • This may happen through natural, accidental, or deliberate dispersal of such harmful agents into food, water, air, soil or into plants, crops, or livestock.
  • Apart from the natural transnational movement of the pathogenic organisms, their potential use as weapons of biological warfare and bioterrorism has become far more important now than ever before.
  • Along with nuclear and chemical agents, many biological agents are now considered as capable of causing large-scale mortality and morbidity.
  • Handling exotic pathogens warrants suitable infrastructure, notably, high containment laboratories of bio-safety levels 3 and 4; recruitment of highly committed, dedicated and trained professionals; continuous availability of diagnostic reagents; enhancement of skills at various echelons of health professionals in early identification of such infections, investigation of outbreaks and institution of specific control measures.
  • Current system of surveillance and mechanism to control the outbreak of endemic diseases are through the National Programme for Surveillance of Communicable Diseases.
  • Natural outbreaks of disease may become epidemics and assume disastrous proportion if not contained in the initial stages.
  • Pest infestations have recurred as major disasters for the agrarian economy of India since time immemorial.
  • Locust swarms coming from Central Asia used to be a major cause for concern.
  • Besides such consolidated events, infestation of localized pests is a threat to plant as well as human life.
  • A major factor responsible for deterioration and the loss of food grains, their products and the economic losses besides health hazards is the contamination caused by rodents and insects. Pest control is achieved primarily through chemical methods subject to safety standards and regulatory norms for the safe use of such chemicals.
  • The growth of human society has rested largely on the cultivation of crops and domestication of animals.
  • As crops and animals became necessary to sustain a divergent social structure, the depletion of these resources had far-reaching consequences.
  • Along with the growth of societies, crop and animal diseases acquired more and more importance.
  • Infectious agents are constantly evolving, often acquiring enhanced virulence or epidemic potential.
  • As large number of people now travels within and across national boundaries, the likelihood of fast global spread of epidemics has increased dramatically making localised outbreaks into national epidemics and global pandemics.
  • As our society is in a state of flux, novel pathogens emerge to pose challenges not only at the point of primary contact but also in far removed locations.
  • The increased interaction between humans and animals has increased the possibilities of zoonotic diseases emerging in epidemic form.
  • The Biological DRR covers the legal frameworks and institutional aspects needed for addressing safety and security of microbial agents, managing epidemics, containing biological terrorism (BT), managing threats to livestock, and all forms of agriculture.
  • Desert locusts fly with the wind and can travel 100-150 km in a day. The Bombay locust (Nomadacris succincta) was a major pest in India and South-Eastern Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries but has seldom swarmed since the last plague in 1908. The desert locust swarms from as far as Africa sometimes can reach India and Pakistan crossing the Indian Ocean.
  • The Locust Control and Research Division under MAFW Keeps constant vigil through field surveys to prevent crop losses due to locust attack in approximately two lakhs of Scheduled Desert Area in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Locust Watch under FAO monitors the locusts worldwide and issue early warnings to countries about locust swarms. After receiving warning, Government takes urgent measures for monitoring and control.
  • Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage under the MAFW with sub-offices across India, is the apex organisation responsible for taking measures related to plant protection. Such measures are important in the overall crop production programmes for sustainable agriculture.
  • Plant protection activities encompasses activities aimed to minimizing crop losses due to pests through integrated pest management, plant quarantine, regulation of pesticides as well as locust warning and control.
  • To effectively tackle the issue of livestock health, the Department is supplementing the activities of the State Governments/ Union Territories through ‘Livestock Health & Disease Control Scheme’, which has the following components:
  • Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases
  • Professional Efficiency Development
  • National Project on Rinderpest Surveillance and Monitoring
  • Foot and Mouth Disease Control Programme
  • National Animal Disease Reporting System
  • Brucellosis Control Programme
  • Establishment and Strengthening of existing Veterinary Hospitals and Dispensaries
  • Classical Swine Fever Control Programme


Biological and public health emergencies: NDMA Guideline

Observation Networks, Information Systems, Monitoring, Research, Forecasting, Early Warning and Zoning/ Mapping:

  • Establishment of Early Warning System to make the response mechanism ready for operation.
  • Strengthening Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and early warning systems at regional levels
  • Epidemiological disease mapping of the past which will provide ready data to contain future disasters.
  • Health facilities mapping is necessary prerequisite, because biological disasters put heavy burden on people’s health. Mapping of health facilities will help to assess real situation and opens the doors for further improvements.


Dissemination of warnings, data & information:

  • Create awareness about preventive measures which will help in bringing behavioural changes among all stakeholders.
  • Extensive IEC campaigns to create awareness through print, electronic and social media
  • Specific messages for highly vulnerable groups such as elderly, young children, outdoor workers and slum residents is most crucial aspect of awareness generation. Because these are the most vulnerable sections during any kind of disasters.


Preparation and response:

  • Rapid health assessment and provision of laboratory support is necessary to deal with widely spreading biological disasters. This has been observed during COVID19 Pandemic. During COVID19 Pandemic, government also established laboratories throughout the country on mission mode.
  • Institution of public health measures to deal with secondary emergencies as an outcome of biological emergencies. This can help in tackling unforeseen challenges and pressures on health system.


Structural Measures:

  • Establishing adequate decontamination systems, Critical Care Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and isolation wards to slow down the spread of biological agents.
  • Adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all the health workers associated with the responding to biological emergencies. This will ensure that health workers will not be affected by such biological agents.
  • Strengthening/mainstreaming the network medical assistance facilities
  • Equipping Medical First Responders (MFRs)/Quick Reaction Medical Teams (QRMTs) with all material logistics and backup support
  • Upgradation of earmarked hospitals to cope with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) emergencies
  • Communication and networking system with appropriate intra-hospital and inter-linkages with state ambulance/transport services, state police departments and other emergency services
  • Mobile tele-health services and Mobile Hospitals.


Upgrading medical facilities:

  • Specialised health care and laboratory facilities to address biological emergencies/ incidents. Biological disasters are sudden and sometimes transcends the human capabilities to deal with such disasters with existing infrastructure. Thus, it is necessary to establish specialised health care facilities to deal with biological disasters.
  • Establishing and strengthening quarantine facilities to break the chain of contamination. This is well observed during COVID19 Pandemic where government focused on quarantine facilities.
  • Creating at least one public health laboratory in each district so that every person gets diagnosed at right time and get treatment with ease.
  • Stockpiling of essential medical supplies such as vaccines and antibiotics, etc. COVID19 Pandemic compelled all the governments across the globe to stockpile medicines such as Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir, Ritonavir etc.


Biosafety and Biosecurity Measures and Environmental Management:

  • Strict compliance with biosafety and biosecurity provisions such as wearing PPE kits while treating patients, conducting research on biological agents in laboratories, safe handling of medical wastes etc.
  • Environmental monitoring to prevent outbreaks- Most of the biological disasters are zoonotic in origin. Discriminate handling of environment and more specifically wild animals can cause jumping of viral agents into human societies.
  • Integrated vector management for elimination of breeding places such as meat markets, transportation of exotic species, livestock management etc.
  • Biological and chemical interventions for vector control
  • Monitoring of water supply and sewage systems to prevent the dispersal of biological agents that can cause epidemics.


Human Resource Development and Training:

  • Training support for SDRF, community, and volunteers is necessary as they are directly exposed to such disasters.
  • Strengthening of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), medical first responders, medical professionals, paramedics and other emergency responders. This will ensure institutionalised response during such disasters.
  • Development of human resources for monitoring and management of the delayed effects of Biological and Public Health Emergencies in the areas of mental health and psychosocial care Training programmes in the areas of emergency medicine and biological emergency management for hospital administrators, specialists, medical officers, nurses and other health care workers
  • Training for youth through NCC, NYKS, Scouts and Guides and NSS. This will help to harness the demographic dividend during emergency situations.


Awareness Generation:

  • Promoting awareness, alertness and preparedness to tackle the menace of fake news and to create responsible citizenry.
  • Training programs for public, PRIs/ ULBs to reach each and every person in the locality. This will also help strengthening of democracy at the grass-root level.
  • Community awareness programme for first aid with the help of ASHA workers, AWW, ANMs. These workers are helpful in keeping vigil during such disasters.
  • Dos and Don’ts to mitigate the effects of medical emergencies caused by biological agents
  • Awareness about the importance of personal hygiene
  • With due consideration to the social, ethnic and religious issues involved, utmost care will be exercised in the disposal of dead bodies.


Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies:

  • A nuclear disaster is construed as potentially a low probability event, however very high in damage impact, could be caused by detonation of nuclear warhead or explosion of an Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) with associated release of large amounts of devastative energy due to Blast, Thermal and Radioactive material. Secondary effects occurring later might result in fall out of radioactive dust.
  • The nuclear and radiological emergencies could be due to accidents at operating nuclear facilities/ incidents in public domain that could potentially release radioactive materials.
  • The cause of these events could potentially arise from nuclear facility/ malicious acts of radioactivity dispersal by explosion of Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD).
  • The occurrence of these kinds of emergencies could be of probability marginally higher but based on the scale of the accident/ incident, the potential impact of damage will be restricted to less domain.
  • Nuclear weapons, a major accident in a nuclear power plant or an accidental exposure of radiation, due to accident with the radioactive material during transportation, faulty practices, and mechanical failure in a radiation facility can lead to nuclear or radiological emergency.
  • Even though such situations may not arise easily, everyone needs to be prepared to face such emergencies.
  • All organisations dealing with nuclear and radiological material have an inherent culture of safety, follow best safety practices in the sector, and they apply high standards to ensure minimum risk.
  • However, nuclear emergencies can still arise due to factors beyond the control of the operating agencies from human error, system failure, sabotage, extreme natural events like earthquake, cyclone, flood, tsunami or a combination of these.
  • Such failures, even though of very low probability, may lead to on-site or offsite emergencies.
  • To counter this, proper emergency preparedness plans must be in place so that there is minimum loss of life, livelihood, property, and impact on the environment.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) classifies the above emergency scenarios under two broad categories –

  • Nuclear and
  • Radiological


  • A nuclear emergency refers to a situation in which there is, or is presumed to be, a hazard due to the release of energy along with radiation from a nuclear chain reaction (or from the decay of the products of a chain reaction). These covers accidents in nuclear reactors, ‘criticality’ situations in fuel cycle facilities, nuclear explosions, etc.
  • All other emergency situations which have the potential hazard of radiation exposure due to decay of radioisotopes, are classified as radiological emergencies.


  • While the overall objective is to prevent NRE, there is also the need to adequately prepare for such emergencies. An NRE must be managed through very well planned and established mechanisms – structural and non-structural – in a manner that will minimize risks to health, life and the environment.


  • Eight nuclear/ radiological emergency scenarios envisaged in the disaster planning are listed below:
    • Accidents in Nuclear Power Plants and other facilities in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
    • ‘Criticality’ Accidents
    • Accidents during transportation of radioactive materials
    • Accidents at facilities using radioactive sources
    • Disintegration of satellites during re-entry
    • Nuclear/Radiological terrorism and sabotage at nuclear facilities
    • State-sponsored nuclear terrorism
    • Explosion of nuclear weapons


Nuclear and radiological emergencies: NDMA Guideline


Monitoring and warning network Strengthening Radiation Monitoring:

  • This will help in early detection of radiations from all possible sources like nuclear plants, weapons, transport of nuclear materials etc.


Establish monitoring mechanism to prevent illicit movement of radioisotopes:

  • Install radiation detectors at all identified locations at border posts, and ports. Such detection is necessary to prevent illegal transport of radioactive materials, dumping of such materials in developing countries by developed countries.


Communication networks:

  • To set up reliable and dedicated communication network at the national level for the last mile connectivity.


Warnings, information, data:

  • Dissemination of warnings to all, down to the last mile – remote, rural or urban so that people can get reliable, genuine information about the emergencies. In this way people also get prepared to respond in well-structured manner.
  • Regular updates to people in areas at risk will help to tackle the menace of fake news, panic.


Structural Measures:

  • Identification of safe buildings and sites to serve as temporary shelters near nuclear installations
  • Construction of multi-purpose shelters near nuclear installations
  • Ensure compliance with relevant building codes


Comprehensive plan on medical management:

  • To establish tertiary care hospitals for treatment of radiation injuries.
  • Establish primary and secondary care hospitals of adequate capacity at select cities will help reduce burden on healthcare facilities.


Awareness Generation:

  • Carry out mass media campaigns
  • Promote culture of disaster risk prevention, mitigation, and beer risk management
  • Promote attitude and behaviour change in the awareness campaigns/ IEC
  • Promote use of insurance/ risk transfer
  • Promote Community Radio
  • Strengthening network of civil society organizations for awareness generation about Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management.


Climate Refugees:/Environmental Refugee

  • The term “climate refugee” is often used in the media and other discussions.
  • However, this phrase can cause confusion, as it does not exist in international law.
  • A “refugee” is defined as a person who has crossed an international border “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees).
  • In some contexts, the definition extends to persons fleeing “events seriously disturbing public order” (1984 Cartagena Declaration). Climate change affects people inside their own countries, and typically creates internal displacement before it reaches a level where it displaces people across borders.
  • There may be situations where the refugee criteria of the 1951 Convention or broader refugee criteria of regional refugee law frameworks may apply, for example if drought-related famine is linked to situations of armed conflict and violence– an area known as “nexus dynamics.”
  • Regardless, the term “climate refugee” is not endorsed by UNHCR, and it is more accurate to refer to “persons displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.”
  • Most disaster displacement linked to natural hazards and the impacts of climate change is internal, with those affected remaining within their national borders.
  • However, displacement across borders also occurs, and may be interrelated with situations of conflict or violence.
  • The impacts of climate change are numerous. Limited natural resources, such as drinking water, are likely to become even scarcer in many parts of the world. Crops and livestock struggle to survive in climate change ‘hotspots’ where conditions become too hot and dry, or too cold and wet, threatening livelihoods and exacerbating food insecurity.
  • People are trying to adapt to the changing environment, but many are being forcibly displaced from their homes by the effects of climate change and disasters, or are relocating in order to survive. New displacement patterns, and competition over depleted natural resources can spark conflict between communities or compound pre-existing vulnerabilities.
  • People displaced across borders in the context of climate change and disasters may in some circumstances be in need of international protection. Refugee law therefore has an important role to play in this area.
  • UNHCR is providing protection and assistance for many people forcibly displaced by the effects of climate change and disasters, among other drivers, and is working to increase their resilience.


This global challenge has and will continue to create a multitude of critical issues that the international community must confront, including:

  • Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors, particularly in the developing countries in the earth’s low latitudinal band
  • Intensifying intra- and inter-state competition for food, water, and other resources, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Increased frequency and severity of disease outbreaks
  • Increased U.S. border stress due to the severe effects of climate change in parts of Central America.


Climate Refugee

  • The ‘State of India’s Environment 2020 in Figures’ report was published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
  • It states that India had around 50 lakh internal displacements caused by disasters and extreme weather conditions like floods, cyclones and drought in 2019.


  • According to the Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020, nearly five million people were displaced in India in 2019 because of disasters related to Southwest Monsoon and Cyclones.
  • According to the ‘State of India’s Environment 2020 in Figures’ the internal displacements in India caused by disasters and extreme weather conditions were the highest in the world in 2019.

Climate refugees’ statistics:

  • Across and within borders, people are displaced. Recent trends indicate more internal displacement due to climate-related disasters than conflict, where in fact, of the 30.6 million people displaced across 135 countries in 2017, 60 percent were as a direct result of natural disasters.
  • In 2018, extreme weather events such as severe drought in Afghanistan, Tropical Cyclone Gita in Samoa, and flooding in the Philippines, resulted in acute humanitarian needs.
  • According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, there were 18.8 million new disaster-related internal displacements recorded in 2017.
  • In 2018, the World Bank projected that there will be more than 143 million internal climate migrants by 2050, in just three regions of the world (Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America), if no climate action is taken.

India’s vulnerability to climate refugees:

  • The State of India’s Environment 2020 report, published by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) highlights that India recorded just nine out of 93 disasters in Asia in 2019 but accounted for nearly 48% of the deaths.
  • Also, more people died due to extreme weather events in 2019 despite fewer events in comparison to 2018.
  • In 2018 there were 23 extreme weather events that caused 1,396 deaths but last year, only nine disasters claimed 2,038 lives as per official data.
  • According to the National Disaster Management Authority, 27 of the 37 states and union territories in India are disaster-prone.
  • If places like Sundarbans in the east of India face the threat of sea-level rise, the mountains of north India are susceptible to floods, cloud bursts and landslides. The Aila cyclone of 2009 in Bay of Bengal or Kedarnath floods of 2013 in Uttarakhand are testaments to this fact.


UNHCR’s role in addressing climate change and disaster-related displacement

UNHCR’s work on climate change and disaster displacement covers four main areas:

  • Legal advice, guidance and thedevelopment of norms to support the enhanced protection of the rights of people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.
  • Promoting policy coherence to ensure that issues of disaster displacement are effectively mainstreamed across relevant areas.
  • Research to fill gaps that underpin this operational and policy work.
  • Field-based activities to address internal and cross-border disaster displacement;to reduce the environmental impact of refugee settlements and ensure sustainable responses to displacement; risk reduction activities and others which may contribute to efforts to avert, minimize and address displacement.


The Global Compact on Refugees:

  • The Global Compact on Refugees, adopted by an overwhelming majority in the UN General Assembly in December 2018, directly addresses this growing concern. It recognizes that ‘climate, environmental degradation and natural disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movements.’
  • The Global Compact on Refugees is a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation.
  • It provides a blueprint for governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure that host communities get the support they need and that refugees can lead productive lives.
  • It constitutes a unique opportunity to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations, benefiting both refugees and the communities that host them.


Its four key objectives are to:

    • Ease the pressures on host countries;
    • Enhance refugee self-reliance;
    • Expand access to third-country solutions;
    • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.


Urban Flooding

  • Flood is defined as “an overflow of a large body of water over areas not usually inundated”. Thus, flooding in urban areas is caused by intense and/or prolonged rainfall, which overwhelms the capacity of the drainage system.
  • Urban flooding is significantly different from rural flooding– urbanization increases flood risk by up to 3 times, increased peak flow result in flooding very quickly. Further, it affects large number of people due to high population density in urban areas.


Devastating Floods in the past:

  • In India: Chennai (December 2015), Kochi (August 2018), Mumbai July 2005
  • Around the world: Sydney (December 2018), New York (October 2019), Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (October 2005)


Facts and figures

  • India has a long coastline of 7,500 km and an estimated 14% of India’s total population lives alongside it that traverses nine states, 77 towns and cities including some of the fastest-growing such as Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi making them more prone to flood due to adjacent sea and erratic monsoonal behaviour.
  • Aside from the present danger posed by extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclonic storms, more slow-onset impacts brought about by climate change also threaten the coastline.
  • A 2016 UN report estimated that 40 million people in India will be at risk from sea-level rise by 2050.
  • Rashtriya Barh Ayog(National Flood Commission) identified 40 million hectares of land as flood-prone in India.
  • About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities.
  • Over 40 million hectares is prone to flood.
  • About 8% of the total area is prone to cyclone and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought



Causes of urban flooding:

Urban flood is a natural phenomenon but recent times anthropogenic factors are more responsible for flood in India.



Natural causes


· Skewed Rainfall Pattern

· Trans-National Rivers

· Earthquakes

· Sediment deposition

· Cyclone

Anthropogenic causes


· Indiscriminate deforestation

· Poor Solid Waste Management System

· Unplanned Urbanization

· Population pressure

· Old and ill maintained drainage System:

· Climate change

· Inadequate Mitigation measure

· Policy failure

· Encroachment of Wetlands

· Inefficient River flow

· inefficient urban planning

· Neglect of Pre-Disaster Planning

· Obstruction by the encroachment and filling in the floodplain on the waterways

· Deposits of building materials and solid wastes with subsequent blockage of the system.


NDMA Guidelines on Urban Flood:

  • National Hydro-meteorological Network and Doppler Weather Radarscan provide and a lead time of 3 to 6 hours.
  • Design and Management of Urban Drainage to improve the infiltration and natural storage.
  • As runoff processes are independent of states and city administrative boundaries, Catchment as a basis of design should be promoted.
  • Removal of Solid Waste should be encouraged to avoid hydraulic roughness, blockage.
  • Rain gardens consist of a porous soil covered with a thin layer of mulch. Stormwater runoff is allowed to infiltrate through the plant/mulch/soil environment.
  • Vulnerability Analysis and Risk Assessment should be done to identify areas at risk, classification of structures according to Hazard Risk Zoning.
  • A separate Urban Flooding Cell (UFC) will be constituted within MoUD which will coordinate all UFDM activities at the national level.
  • Emergency Operation Centres, flood shelters, search and rescue operations, emergency logistics should be established for flood response mechanism.


Way forward:




1. Strengthen Early Warning System and real-time communication system.

2. Improve forecasting models to strengthen preparedness e.g. Mumbai has installed automatic weather stations for recording the rainfall every 15 minutes.



1. Design and maintain Urban Drainage System to avoid blockage and to improve flow capacity

2. Prioritise waste recycling

3. Need cooperation between Municipal and urban infrastructure bodies

4. Strengthen regulation of real estate nexus with RERA

5. Implement Coastal Regulation Zone rules

Conservation 1. Rainwater Harvesting to serve the twin purposes of lowering the peak runoff and raising the ground water table. e.g. Tamil Nadu

2. Prevent encroachments and promote conservation of Water Bodies like lakes, tanks and ponds for flood regulation.

Public participation:


1. Improve urban accountability through public participation

2. Create an awareness about solid waste management

3. Community-based advance flood warning systems

Mitigation 1. Prompt, well-coordinated and effective response to minimize casualties and loss of property and also facilitate early recovery.
International cooperation: 1. Efficient implement Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to reduce the vulnerability of disaster.

2. Develop ‘sponge’ cities in line with cities in China


Developing Sponge Cities:

  • The idea of a sponge city is to make cities more permeable so as to hold and use the water which falls upon it.
  • Sponge cities absorb the rain water, which is then naturally filtered by the soil and allowed to reach urban aquifers.
  • This allows for the extraction of water from the ground through urban or peri-urban wells.
  • This water can be treated easily and used for city water supply.


Rail Accidents

  • Railway Disaster is a serious train accident or an untoward event of grave nature, either on railway premises or arising out of railway activity.
  • This may occur due to natural or human-made causes, which may lead to loss of many lives and/or grievous injuries to a large number of people, and/or severe disruption of traffic etc.
  • Thus, necessitating large scale help from other government/non-government and private.


Major Rail Accidents in 2017:

  • Vasco-da-Gama -Patna Express derailment, November 23, 2017
  • Utkal Express derailment, Aug 18, 2017.
  • Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailment, April 15, 2017.
  • Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailment, Jan 22, 2017.
  • Kalindi Express derailment, Feb 20, 2017.
  • Mahakaushal Express derailment, March 30, 2017.
  • Ujjain train blast, March 3, 2017.



  • In 2015-16, a majority of train accidents were caused due to derailments (60%), followed by accidents at level crossings (33%).
  • Between 2003-04 and 2015-16, derailments were the second highest reason for casualties.
  • The Standing Committee on Railways had noted that one of the reasons for derailments is defect in the track or rolling stock.


Unmanned Level Crossings:

  • Unmanned level crossings (UMLCs) continue to be one of the biggest causes of maximum casualties in rail accidents.
  • In 2014-15, about 40% of the accidents occurred at UMLCs, and in 2015-16, about 28%.

How ISRO is helping Indian railway to curb accident at unmanned crossing?

  • ISRO helping the Indian Railways use its satellite-based system to check accidents at unmanned railway crossings and track train movements on a real-time basis.
  • A hooter integrated with ISRO navigation system will be installed at an unmanned crossing.
  • An IC chip will be installed on a train engine. The chip will get activated once a train is at a distance of 500 metres to 4km from the crossing.
  • The hooter will go off as the train approaches, warning road users at the crossing and will fall silent after the train has passed.
  • The system will also help railways track train movement on a real-time basis
  • The testing of this system is underway.


What explains the frequent number of railway accidents?





Accidents due to failure of railway staff:


· More than half of the accidents are due to lapses on the part of railway staff.

· Such lapses include:

· carelessness in working,

· poor maintenance work,

· Adoption of short-cuts

· Non-observance of laid down safety rules and procedures.

Accidents due to loco-pilots:


· Accidents also occur due to signalling errors for which loco-pilots are responsible.

Under-investment in the Railways leading to Rail accidents:


· Slow expansion of rail networks has put undue burden on the existing infrastructure, leading to severe congestion and safety compromises

· Under-investment in the railways has resulted in congested routes, inability to add new trains, reduction of train speeds and more rail accidents.

· Maintenance is compromised due to lack of funds.


Safety Measures taken on Indian Railways:

  • Measures taken to ensure rail safety envisage accident prevention and mitigation directed towards continuous reduction in risk level to its passengers.
  • In the Budget 2017-18, setting up of a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK)had been announced.


Many new technologies have been introduced:

  • Train Protection Warning System (TPWS)/ Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) as means of Automatic Train Protection on pilot section to prevent accident due to over speeding & passing signal at danger.
  • Vigilance Control Device (VCD) to check alertness of Loco Pilot Electrical/Electronic Interlocking System with Centralised operations of points to eliminate human failure, Complete Track Circuiting,
  • Axle Counter for Automatic Clearance of Block Section (BPAC),
  • Interlocking of manned Level Crossing gates
  • Replacement of filament type signal with Light Emitting Diode (LED) Signals

To improve safety of railway tracks following measures have been taken:

  • Usage of pre-stressed concrete sleepers
  • Provision of Thick Web Switches (TWS) for all important routes
  • Track Management System
  • Condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and track is being tried
  • Ultrasonic broken rail detection system to be made operational


Suggestions by the World bank for Rail Safety in India:

  • In April 2017, erstwhile Railway Minister had approached the World Bank for a study on the issue of rail safety.
  • The report – titled ‘Strengthening Safety on Indian Railways’was submitted by the World Bank in late August 2017.
  • The guidelines that were put forth by the World Bank to keep a check safety of the overburdened Indian rail infrastructure are as follows:
  • As a measure to avert accidents, the trains are to be equipped with ‘ditch lights’ and painted bright yellow that will enable more visibility even during twilight hours.
  • The rail employees should be garbed in “high-visibility” clothes that can be worn round the year.
  • Every train must be equipped with fire extinguishers and the staff must be well guided on various fire prevention measures.
  • The level crossings and paths are to be painted with a crosshatched pattern that can alert and highlight the dangers for people to be in the area.
  • The current investigators who have been employed to investigate root-cause of accidents are to be trained for better analysis.
  • The authorities have been suggested to review timetables such that a maintenance block of four hours is provided weekly on all main lines as well as review safety performance in terminal operations with the intent of recognising prevailing risks.
  • An independent rail safety regulator is to be created by the railways to strengthen the powers of commissioner of railway safety and form a safety management system under the Chairman, Railway Board.
  • To address derailments, fires, or any other possible mishap, an emergency response plan is to be constituted.


Oil Spill:

  • Recently, A Japanese ship namedM V Wakashio struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean.
  • The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.
  • A number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations are located nearby the spill.


Concerns associated with Oil Spills
  • Oil spills affect marine lifeby exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.
  • Both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills, for instance, oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters.
  • It also decreases the water repellence of birds’ feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.
  • Conservationists are also anxious about oil washing into mangrove forests, where roots serve as nurseries for fish.
  • Concerns are also growing for the thousands of local people whose livelihoods will be impactedby the spill.
  • The damage could impact Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.


Methods of Cleaning the oil spill:

There are a few ways to clean up oil spills:

  • Including skimming–It involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.
  • In situ burning– It means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
  • Release of chemical dispersants–Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.
  • Natural actions–Natural actions in aquatic environments such as weathering, evaporation, emulsification, biodegradation and oxidation can also help reduce the severity of an oil spill and accelerate the recovery of an affected area.


Other instances of oil spills:

  • Some of the world’s largest oil spills include the Persian Gulf War oil spill of 1991when more than 380 million gallons of oil was poured into the northern Persian Gulf by Iraq’s forces.
  • The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexicois also considered to be among the largest known accidental oil spills in history. Starting April 20, 2010, over 4 million barrels of oil flowed over a period of 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In 2016, a United States Geological Survey (USGS)-NASA studyfound that the 2010 oil spill led to “widespread” shoreline loss along with the heavily oiled areas along Louisiana’s coast.
  • Recently occurred Oil spill in Russia’s Arctic region.


Mine Disasters

  • Mines Act, 1965 defines Disaster as an act Accident (unexpected event) causing loss of more than 10 lives.
  • A mining accident is an accident that occurs in the process of mining minerals.

Following types of mining disasters are classified by the Directorate General of Mine Safety (DGMS):

  • Side fall (slope failure) disaster in opencast mines
  • Roof and side falls in underground mines
  • Collapse of mine pillars
  • Air Blast
  • Failure of rope haulage
  • Accident due to electricity
  • Mine Fires
  • Accident due to explosive
  • Inundations
  • Explosions in Mines
  • Rock Burst and bumps

Prevention of Disasters in Mines:

  • The various safeguards and preventive measures against coal mine fires are outlined in the Coal Mines Regulations, 1957 and related circulars, notifications and technical instructions.
  • The Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) examines from each and every application for underground and surface mining from all considerations.
  • Wherever necessary the DGMS imposes additional precautionary and preventive measures.
  • Thus, the role of DGMS is not only that of an enforcer of legislation but also a facilitator of Mine Safety.


Environment Clearance:

  • For the new projects and re-organisational projects, after the issuance of the EIA Notification, 1994 under the Environment (protection) Act, 1986, it has become compulsory to get environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF.
  • The mines are required to develop their Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) in which the problems of the mine fires are adequately addressed as the mine fires have considerable environmental impacts.


Reasons for Mining Accidents
  • Poor safety conditions for workers: The main reason remains collapse of roofs and walls or Inundation fatalities.
  • Rat hole mininginvolves suffocating narrow tunnels through which miners go into the hillsides to extract coal.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) not followed: Surface movement of heavy machinery.
  • Administrative failures: “Illegal” miningthat employs a large number of the marginalised and child labour. E.g. Justice B.P. Katoki committee of the NGT reported rampant illegal mining
    as primary reason for accidents.
  • Outsourcing to private sector: Under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 coal mines are auctioned to private players. Private sector is accused of neglecting safety standards.
  • Carelessness of miners: In transportation and use of explosives For example, Lalmatia tragedy in 2016, workers’ complaint about cracks in the slope were neglected.
  • No lessons learnt: Findings of previous disasters not incorporated in pre-mining surveys and safety protocols.
  • Misuse of 6th Schedule of Constitution: Illegal miners and local councils portray administrative safeguards against dangerous mining as undue interference in autonomous areas and hence go ahead with illegal mining operations.
    g. rat-hole mining in Meghalaya.
  • 6th Scheduleprovides tribal communities right over land and use of its resources.


Measures taken for improvement of safety by Coal India Limited (CIL) in 2016:

  • Internal safety Organization (ISO): Continuous review of safety status of mines is being done by the multidisciplinary ISO
  • Guidelines of Corrective Measures: After analysis of fatal accidents which occurred in different point of time in 2016, guidelines of corrective measures to prevent recurrence of similar type of accidents in future have been issued by Safety and Rescue Division of CIL
  • Training for Preparation of Risk Assessment based Safety Management Plans (SMP)
  • Preparation and Implementation of Risk Assessment based SMP
  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): 8 risk assessment-based site-specific SOP are formulated and being implemented for various mining and allied operations
  • Adoption of the state-of-art Technology suitable to geo-mining locales
  • Monitoring of Mine Environment by installing Environment Tele-Monitoring System (ETMs) and Local Methane Detectors
  • Water Danger management
  • Strata Management: Use of modern strata monitoring instruments.
  • Risk management training.
In December, 2018, illegal coal mine at Ksan in Meghalaya flooded, trapping at least 13 workers despite NGT banning unscientific and illegal mining including rat-hole mining in


Way Ahead
  • NHRC report 2014mining sector should adopt best practices such as:
    • Scientific ‘training need assessment’ for officers and workers.
    • Developing effective training delivery mechanisms.
    • Working on comprehensive specialised training on accident investigation.
  • Integrate Occupational health with primary healthcare: It is the mandate of the Labour Ministry.
    • This has to be shifted to Health Ministry for better synergy and finance allocation.
  • Regulatoron occupational health safety.
  • Effective implementation of 6th scheduleprovisions through regulation of land leasing and protection of “community” right over land resources.
  • Diversifying livelihood opportunitiesin concerned districts through better implementation of schemes like MGNREGA, Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP).
  • Curb on illegal miningthat is more dangerous and unregulated by using satellites.
  • State Responsibility: Moreover, under the rules of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the responsibility of illegal mining lies with the State government. For example, NGT imposed 100 crore penalty on Meghalaya govt. for failing to curb illegal mining.
  • District Mineral Fund (DMF): Use DMF for rehabilitation and welfare of the workers from impoverished communities including child labourers who take these risky work because
    of the higher wages.

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