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Making India disaster ready

Source(s):  India Today, India Today Group

By Ajita Shashidhar and Sonal Khetarpal


Debabrata Patra, Regional Manager, ActionAid India, Odisha Regional Office, says the state government isn't showing the same urgency for rebuilding [after Cyclone Fani] as it showed for evacuations. "The government has announced housing compensation of Rs 3,200 for moderately damaged homes (bulk of the homes that have perished are thatched houses), Rs 5,200 for partially damaged homes and Rs 91,200 compensation for fully damaged homes. No one has got it." Patra 

However, how natural disaster resilient is our infrastructure? It will take the Odisha Government anywhere between 5-10 years to rebuild the state and there is no guarantee that it will not be hit by another storm or cyclone in the meantime. Not just Odisha, natural disasters have become rampant in other parts of the country too.


"The first priority of disaster management is to save lives, followed by providing temporary shelter and food. The third priority is to bring them back to their original status or even improve it and the fourth priority is to minimise economic loss and build a disaster resilient infrastructure. We are doing reasonably okay in the first two priorities but quite poorly on the last two," points out Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).


The irony is that India has building codes for disaster resilience, but no one adheres to them simply because of the perception that they involve additional costs. The Bureau of Indian Standards, says D.N. Sharma, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), has laid down clear rules on how buildings and infrastructure need to be built in specific disaster-prone zones. "If you follow those codes, infrastructure can withstand high intensity earthquakes and high intensity winds," he says.


Over 500,000 homes have been destroyed in Cyclone Fani, but the moment you ask any affected people if they have insurance, the immediate answer is that it is too expensive. The economic losses in most natural disasters are far higher than insured losses.


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  • Publication date 30 Jun 2019

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