• Ensemble forecast

    Source: The Hindu

    Gs3: Disaster Management

    Context: India needs to shift to ensemble weather and flood forecast model to achieve better accuracy in flood forecasting.

    What is the significance of using Ensemble forecast?

    Deterministic forecast modelEnsemble forecast
    ·         Deterministic forecast model merely indicates “Rising” or “Falling” above a water level at a river point. 

    ·         In this model,there is no idea of the area of inundation, its depth, and when the accuracy of the forecast decreases at 24 hours and beyond



    ·         It gives probability-based estimation as to different scenarios of water levels and regions of inundation. 

    ·         For example, it can indicate the probability like, the chances of the water level exceeding the danger level is 80%, with likely inundation of a village nearby at 20%.


    ·         It provides a lead time of just 24 hours·         It provides a lead time of 7-10 days ahead. 


    ·         Since the end users (district administration, municipalities and disaster management authorities) receive such forecasts with very less “Lead time” and have to act quickly, flood forecast becomes less accurate.·         It helps local administrations with better decision-making and helps them to get prepared better in advance. 


    ·         India has recently shifted towards -Deterministic forecast model·         The United States, the European Union and Japan have shifted towards Ensemble flood forecasting along with “Inundation modelling”.

    What are the shortcomings with India’s flood forecasting?

    Multiple agencies:

    • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issues meteorological or weather forecasts while the Central Water Commission (CWC) issues flood forecasts at various river points.
    • Therefore, the advancement of flood forecasting depends on how quickly rainfall is estimated and forecast by the IMD and how quickly the CWC integrates the rainfall forecast with flood forecast.
    • It also is linked to how fast the CWC disseminates this data to end user agencies.
    • This complicated arrangement reduces the “Lead time”.

    Obsolete methods:

    • Most flood forecasts at several river points across India are based on outdated statistical methods that enable a lead time of less than 24 hours.
    • It renders the India’s flood forecast driven by Google’s most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques ineffective.

    Not uniform across India:

    • A recent study shows that, India has only recently moved to use hydrological or simply rainfall-runoff models not all, but in specific river basins.


    • Therefore, outdated technologies and a lack of technological parity between multiple agencies and their poor water governance decrease crucial lead time.
    • Forecasting errors increase and the burden of interpretation shifts to incompetent end user agencies. The outcome is an increase in flood risk and disaster.

    What is the way forward?

    • The IMD has already started testing and using ensemble models for weather forecast through its supercomputers (“Pratyush” and “Mihir”).
    • Yet, the forecasting agency has to adapt with advanced technology and need to achieve technological parity with the IMD in order to couple ensemble forecasts to its hydrological models.
    • The IMD has to modernise the telemetry infrastructure along with raising technological compatibility with river basin-specific hydrological, hydrodynamic and inundation modelling.
    • It also needs to trains its technical workforce to get well versed with ensemble models and capable of coupling the same with flood forecast models.
    • It is only then that India can look forward to probabilistic-based flood forecasts with a lead time of more than seven to 10 days that will place India on par with the developed world.


  • Improving Resilience to Cyclones Disasters in India

    Synopsis – The Government needs to ensure fiscal rehabilitation for improving resilience to Cyclones disasters.

    • The Indian subcontinent is among the worst affected regions of the world when it comes to tropical cyclones. It is due to its 4,670-mile coastline, where a large percentage of the country’s population lives.
    • Despite all the planning for reducing risk and forecasting cyclone paths still, cyclones have been incredibly destructive as seen in the case of Cyclone YAAS. Thousands have lost houses and property.
    • There is still a lot of work to do. It is in terms of preserving assets and developing fiscal tools to assist people to rebuild their lives.
    What are the reasons behind frequent cyclones disasters in India?

    Extreme tropical storm precipitation events and accompanying inland floods may become more common. Because the climate continues to warm due to increasing human activities.

    • Rising Ocean temperatures – Warmer ocean temperature makes atmospheric and ocean conditions favorable for the intensification of cyclones.
      • It could intensify the speed of the winds by up to 10%. It will result in an increase of 10-15% in precipitation. Both of these factors could cause more flooding and widespread damage.
    • Rise in seas level due to global warming.

    Impact of recent cyclones- According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report on the State of Global Climate 2020

    • The economic losses caused by cyclone Amphan amounts to about $14 billion.
    • Around 2.4 million people were displaced in India, mainly in West Bengal and Odisha.
    Ways to address the risk of cyclones and other extreme events

    Following cyclone Amphan, the West Bengal government faces allegations of irregularities and corruption in the distribution of financial relief. Governments are in the best position to compensate people against the cost of disasters by spreading the cost across the population. Thus,

    • Government should ensure proper distribution of funds without corruption and mismanagement.
    • It should make citizens, members in a social insurance model.
    • Rebuilding should be green and follow a build-back better approach. It is necessary, considering the negative impact of climate change on tropical cyclones.

    Source- The Hindu

  • Very Severe “Cyclone Yaas” hits the coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal
    What is the News?

    Cyclone Yaas hit the coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal. Upon landfall, the cyclone weakened.

    About Cyclone Yaas:
    • Cyclone Yaas is a Tropical Cyclone. It has been named by Oman. Yaas means a tree bearing fragrant flowers.
    • Cyclone Yaas is the first cyclonic storm to develop over the Bay of Bengal in 2021.
    • Cyclone Yaas crossed the northern Odisha coast around 20 km south of Balasore at its peak intensity as a very severe cyclonic storm.

    Click Here to Read how Cyclones are Named

    upcoming Cyclone names

    Classification of Cyclones: The Indian Meteorological Department(IMD)’s criterion to classify the cyclones is based upon the method adopted by the World Meteorological Organisation(WMO). The classification is:

    Type of Disturbances (and Associated Wind Speed in the Circulation):
    • Firstly, Low-pressure Area: Wind Speed less than 17 knots (<31 kmph)
    • Secondly, Depression: 17 to 27 knots (31 to 49 kmph)
    • Thirdly, Deep Depression: 28 to 33 knots (50 to 61 kmph)
    • Fourthly, Cyclonic storm: 34 to 47 knots (62 to 88 kmph)
    • Fifthly, Severe Cyclonic Storm: 48 to 63 knots (89 to 118 kmph)
    • Sixthly, Very Severe Cyclonic Storm: 64 to 119 knots (119 to 221 kmph)
    • Seventhly, Super Cyclonic Storm: 119 knots and above (221 kmph and above).

    Source: The Hindu


  • Rising Cyclone Intensity and Frequency due to Micro-Climatic Changes

    Synopsis: According to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW) report the cyclone frequency has doubled after 2005 in India. Micro Climatic Changes are contributing to this change.

    Key Findings of the report:
    • In the last 50 years, India has recorded a 12-fold increase in the number of cyclonic events such as extreme rainfall, floods, sea-level rise, and thunderstorms.
    • The frequency of extreme weather events is far more severe on the western coast of India. The expectations are for it to increase further in the coming decades.
    • Concern: This is a worrying sign for India. This is because Arabian Sea cyclones have been impacting India’s west coast at the rate of one per year since 2018. This frequency is not seen before in five decades.
    Reasons behind the increasing intensity of cyclones on western coastal areas
    • Microclimatic changes triggered by local climate change drivers are the reasons behind it. Changes include land-use-surface change, deforestation, encroachments upon wetlands and water bodies, which are contributing to this change.
    • These factors are contributing to excessive heating of land areas. This heat is further pulled into the ocean, which is in excess of the heating of oceans due to global warming. It intensifies storms into cyclones.
    Vulnerable States:


    • In Gujarat, as many as 29 districts are vulnerable to extreme climate events. These extreme events have increased three-fold between 1970 and 2019.
    • Moreover, Gujarat is becoming increasingly common to have droughts in one set of districts and floods in other sets of districts in the same season.
    Other States:
    • Maharashtra: The analysis also points to Maharashtra as a vulnerable state which has been affected most by droughts. The state has seen a seven-fold increase in the past 50 years affecting more than 80% of its districts.
    • Goa: There has been a four-fold increase in storm surge and cyclone events in the last 50 years in Goa. Cyclone-associated events have also increased six-fold since 2005.
    Initiatives by the government:
    • The Government of India launched the second phase of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project in 2015.
    • The programme is being implemented successfully in the Eastern coast of India and especially states like Odisha.
    • However, the projects along the western coast are lagging. The projects were to be completed by 2019, but the states here have missed this deadline, Hence, the deadline has now been extended to 2022.
    • Climate-vulnerable states such as Gujarat need to focus more on building climate resilience, especially at the local and regional levels.
    • States must invest in cost-effective (and nature-based) resilient infrastructure.
    • Governments should develop decentralised capacity to respond to climate shocks and design salient public information campaigns to prepare vulnerable communities against climate risks.
    • At the national level, there is a requirement for a Climate Risk Commission with statutory status. A Climate Risk Atlas with district-level information should support the commission.
    • New insurance schemes should be launched to provide the safety net for livelihoods and not just the saving of lives.

    Source: Indian Express

  • Steps and Suggestions to Handle Cyclone related Disasters

    Synopsis: Precise forecasts and resilience-building are very important in handling severe cyclones.

    • Cyclone Tauktae has become a severe cyclonic storm. It is throwing huge volumes of water all along the west coast. It caused loss of life in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, before fading overland.
    • Thousands of people had to be evacuated to safe locations. This year’s pre-monsoon season is posing a double risk. People are stuck between a fast-spreading virus variant and a pounding storm. 
    • Many coastal residents would have gone through a similar experience last year, when the severe cyclonic storm, Nisarga, moved landwards from the Arabian Sea.
    Initiatives and suggestions 

    India has taken many steps in forecasting, disaster mitigation.  However, it needs to develop greater expertise in crafting policies to increase resilience among communities. Only then it would be prepared to handle cyclones. 

    1. Firstly, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) introduced an impact-based cyclone warning system from the October-December season aimed to reduce economic losses last year. It focussed on districts and specific locations. It also incorporated factors such as population, infrastructure, land use, and settlements.
    2. Secondly, the IMD claimed that its accuracy of forecasts is now better. For instance, in plotting landfall location. This is a promising approach (along with ground mapping of vulnerabilities) to avoid loss of life and destruction of property. 
    3. Thirdly, the importance of accurate early warnings cannot be over stressed. The Arabian Sea has become a major source of severe cyclones. Their intensity is heightened by a long-term rise in sea surface temperatures related to pollution over South Asia and its neighbourhood.
    4. Lastly, climate-proofing of lives and dwellings should be a high priority now. Climate proofing requires a multi-sectoral approach: 
      • To build durable homes of suitable design.
      • Create adequate storm shelters.
      • Provide accurate early warnings.
      • Ensure financial protection against calamities through insurance for property and assets. Governments must rise up to this challenge. 

    Source: click here


    “Cyclone Tauktae” expected to hit Gujarat


  • Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021

    What is the News? The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction(UNDRR) has released a report titled “Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021”.

    About Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021:

    Key Findings of the Report:


    • Around 20 million people across Africa and the Middle East are on the brink of starvation due to droughts.
    • Around 700 million people are at risk of being displaced as a result of drought by 2030.
    • Two-third of the world will be under water-stressed conditions by 2025.
    Findings Related to India:
    • The effect of severe droughts on India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at 2-5%.
    • The Deccan region sees the highest frequency (>6%) of severe droughts in all of India.
      • Significant drought conditions are found once every three years in the Deccan plateau, leading to large-scale migration and desertification.
    • Overdependence on groundwater resources and lack of water-retaining structures have significantly increased vulnerability in Indian cities during severe drought events.
    • Prevention: Prevention has far lower human, financial and environmental costs than reaction and response.
    • Risk Governance: Increased understanding of complex systemic risks and improved risk governance can lead to effective action on drought risk.
    • Partnerships: Drought resilience partnerships at the national and local levels will be critical for managing drought in a warming world.
    • Management Mechanisms: A mechanism for drought management at the international and national levels could help address the complex and cascading nature of drought risk.
    • Financial Systems: Financial systems and services must evolve to encourage cooperative approaches, promote social protection mechanisms and encourage risk transfer and contingent financing.
    • Inclusion: New pathways are needed to encourage the inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge and the effective sharing of drought risk management experiences.

    Source: TOI

  • “Foreign Aid to India” – Centre faces Questions Over its Use
    What is the News?

    The Indian Government is at present accepting gifts, donations, and aid from foreign nations. This is because, India is facing a massive shortage of oxygen, drugs and related equipment amid a surge in Covid cases.

    Foreign Aid to India:
    • India is accepting foreign aid for the first time in 16 years. State Governments are also free to procure life-saving devices and medicines from foreign agencies.
    • Earlier, India accepted aid from foreign governments several times. It includes the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991), Latur earthquake (1993), Gujarat earthquake (2001), Bengal cyclone (2002) and Bihar floods (July 2004).
    • However, the policy changed 16 years ago. India refused to accept foreign aid after the Kashmir earthquake in 2005. It also didn’t accept foreign aid after the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, Kashmir floods in 2014 and Kerala Floods in 2018.
    • The Indian government is asking all foreign governments and agencies to donate through the Indian Red Cross Society to the Ministry of Health.
    • It is being coordinated by an Empowered Group of Ministers and officials. They will then send it to the states based upon the requests.
    What is the issue?
    • Countries have raised questions over the lack of a website or transparent system on the Central Government’s use of foreign aid.
    • They are asking the Government of India to provide information about the deployment and use of these materials after their transfer.

    Source: The Hindu


  • “Disaster Management Act, 2005” Invoked to facilitate supply of Medical Oxygen

    What is the News?

    The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005 once again. This time to issue an order to ensure that the inter-state supply of medical oxygen is not obstructed for any reason whatsoever.

    What does the order say?
    • Firstly, there will be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the States.
    • Secondly, no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers. This is especially to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state/UT in which the manufacturer/supplier is located.
    • Thirdly, no authority shall force the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas to make supplies to any particular district(s) or area.
    • Fourthly, the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes except those exempted by the Government is prohibited.
    • Fifthly, district magistrates and senior superintendent of police will be personally liable for the implementation of these directions.
    About National Disaster Management Act, 2005:
    • The purpose of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 is to manage disasters. The Act includes the preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
    • NDMA: The Act calls for the establishment of a National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.
    • National Executive Committee(NEC): The Act provides the Central Government to constitute a National Executive Committee(NEC). This committee will assist the NDMA. The NEC is headed by the Union Home Secretary.
    Relevant Sections of the Act:
    • Section 6: It gives NDMA the powers to prepare national plans for disaster management. It also ensures the implementation of the plan through the state disaster management authorities.
    • Section 10: It allows the NEC to give directions to governments regarding measures to be taken by them.
    • Section 33: It says that the District Authority may order any officer or any Department at the district level or any local authority to take such measures for the prevention or mitigation of disaster. Such officer or department shall be bound to carry out such order.
    • Penal Provisions: Moreover, sections 51 to 60 of the Act lay down penalties for specific offenses. Anyone found obstructing any officer or employee from performing their duty will be imprisoned. The term of the punishment may extend to one year or fined, or be both.
      • Further, if such an act of obstruction leads to loss of lives or imminent danger, then the person can be jailed for up to two years

    Note: The DM Act, 2005 came into being in the wake of the Tsunami disaster in 2004.

    Section 188 of Indian Penal Code(IPC): It states that any person who disobeys an order given by a public servant will be punished with imprisonment upto 1 month. If such disobedience causes danger to human life, the term may extend to six months.

    Source: The Hindu

  • EU joins “CDRI or Coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure initiative”
    What is the news?

    The 27-member European Union joins the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative.

    About Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure(CDRI) Initiative:
    • Firstly, Prime Minister of India launched it in 2019 at the UN Climate Change Summit.
    • Secondly, it is a multi-stakeholder global partnership of national governments, UN agencies, multilateral development banks, private sector, academic and knowledge institutions.
    • Thirdly, it aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks. It also supports sustainable development.
    • Fourthly, Governing Council: The Governing Council is the highest policy-making body of the CDRI. It is co-chaired by India and a representative of another nation, nominated by rotation every two years.
    • Fifthly, funding: A large share of the fund over the first five years has been invested by India. There are no obligations on the part of members to make financial contributions to CDRI. However, at any point, members of the CDRI may make voluntary contributions.
    • Lastly, Secretariat: New Delhi, India.

    Source: Livemint


Other Water and Climate related disasters

  • Can a Single Lightning Flash kill 18 Elephants?
    What is the News?

    Recently, 18 elephants died on a hilltop in Assam. The preliminary post-mortem report indicates they had been struck by lightning.

    Process of formation of lightning
    • During a storm or rain, particles of rain, ice, or snow inside storm clouds collide with each other. It creates a negative charge in the lower reaches of storm clouds and a positive charge in the upper reaches of clouds. This imbalance results in inter-cloud lightning.
    • Ground Objects like trees and earth itself during storms become positively charged due to friction with particles. It creates an imbalance between earth and cloud. Thus, nature seeks to balance this by passing current between the two charges i.e. from clouds to earth.
    • Thus, lightning is the process of occurrence of a natural electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud. It is accompanied by a bright flash and sound and sometimes thunderstorms.
    • Types:
      • Inter cloud or intra cloud(IC) lightning are visible and are harmless.
      • It is cloud to ground (CG) lightning that is harmful as the ‘high electric voltage and electric current’ leads to electrocution.

    How does lightning kill animals? Lightning may injure or kill animals in a number of ways such as:

    • Direct Flash: An animal in an open field may be struck directly by lightning if part of its body covers or is over other objects in the vicinity. Taller animals are more vulnerable.
    • Side Flash: When lightning strikes a tall object such as a tree, it may generate a side flash that can strike an animal standing underneath the tree.
    • Touch Potential: If one part of a tall animal’s body is in contact with the ground, while another part touches a lightning-struck object like a tree, a partial current may pass through its body.
    • Step Potential: It is the most common lightning hazard among four-legged animals. When an animal’s front and hind feet are far enough apart, a partial current may pass through the body in certain circumstances.

    As per the investigation team, it may be the step potential that killed the Elephants.

    Why are elephants more vulnerable to lightning?
    • An elephant’s front and hind feet are wide apart. Therefore, it would appear to make it more vulnerable than a smaller animal, such as a rat.
    • This is because the potential difference increases with the increasing distance between the two feet. The larger the potential difference, the greater the current through the body.

    Source: Indian Express

  • Reasons and Solutions for disaster management in Uttarakhand

    Synopsis: There are various reasons for Disasters in Uttarakhand. It can be prevented by taking some long-term measures.


    • The glacier burst in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand caused the flash floods. It led to the death of 34 people with more than 170 people missing.
    • Apart from that, it also caused destruction to public and private infrastructure. For example, It damaged the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project and the Rishiganga mini-hydro project.
    • The recent disaster reminds the 2013 disaster in Uttarakhand which resulted in the death of thousands of people.
    • The scientific community still doesn’t have the exact reason for the cause of this disaster.

    What are the possible reasons for the cause of the disaster in Uttarakhand?

    The scientific community still doesn’t have the exact reason for this disaster. However, some possible reasons are discussed below.

    • First, the Natural ecology of Uttarakhand and its fragile mountain ecosystem is prone to such disaster. Uttarakhand is located between the young and unstable mountains. Moreover, intense rainfall makes it more vulnerable.
    • Second, as per geologists, glaciologists, and climate experts, climate change, rapid and indiscriminate construction activities, and the subsequent ecological destruction are disturbing the balance of the ecosystem in this region.
        • For example, The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report (2019) had pointed out that one-third of the Hindu Kush Himalaya’s glaciers would melt by 2100. It may happen even if all the countries in the region fulfilled their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
        • It also warned that any ecologically destructive activities would lead to more intensified disasters like landslides.
    • Third, according to the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, rock mass might have weakened due to intense freezing and thawing of snow. This may have created a weak zone. Fractures led to a collapse that resulted in flash floods.
    • Fourth, Experts also opine that massive deforestation is a possible reason for the disaster. For example, in 2014, the Chopra committee established that the haphazard construction of dams can cause irreversible damage to the region.
    • Fifth, there are also possibilities that the use of explosives in the construction of dams and other infrastructure would have weakened the rock strata.

    What needs to be done?

    • First, Government should Invest in long-term crisis response mechanisms and resilience solutions such as,
        • Flood prevention and rapid response.
        • Road stabilization technologies for fragile road networks, bridges, culverts, and tunnels.
        • Strengthening embankments using scientific knowledge.
        • Investing in monitoring and early warning system.
        • Investing in training and capacity building of local communities to prevent and manage risks effectively.
    • Second, hydropower and other public infrastructure projects need reassessment based on the sensitivity of local ecology.
    • Third, implementing pragmatic policies and regulatory guidelines such as responsible eco- and religious tourism policies. This will restrict detrimental human activities.
    • Fourth, applying innovative and inclusive solutions that support nature and marginalized communities, to restore and rebuild a resilient future for Uttarakhand.
  • Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Project

    What is the News?

    The rescue operations are still undergoing in Uttarakhand from a Tapovam tunnel located at the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro project.


    • Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant is a 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project(See image). It was constructed by National Thermal Power Corporation Limited(NTPC) on Dhauliganga River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand.

    • The power plant is located on the downstream on the Alaknanda River (one of the two headstreams of the Ganges).
    • Damaged: It was severely damaged in February 2021 due to flash flood caused by Uttarakhand glacier burst.

    Read more about Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF)

     Source: The Hindu



  • Landslip likely triggered Flash Flood: experts

    What is the News?

    According to glaciologists and experts, the cause of flash floods in Uttarakhand Chamoli district was most probably a landslip(Landslide) and not a glacial lake burst.

    Why are experts calling it a Landslide and not a glacial lake burst?

    • The glacial lake outburst flood(GLOF) occurs when a natural lake, formed from a glacial ice melt and the glacial lake is breached. However, available satellite images do not show the presence of a glacial lake before the flooding event.
    • Moreover, the Central Water Commission(CWC) monitors and prepares monthly reports on the state of glacial lakes and waterbodies measuring 10 hectares and above via satellite. Nothing out of the ordinary was observed by CWC.

    Then, what might have caused the flooding?

    • There was a hanging glacier and on top of the glacier was a huge rock mass.
    • The rock mass became loosened due to freezing, thawing, and temperature variation. It came crashing down, creating pressure on the hanging part of the glacier. The fresh snowfall had also been added to the weight over the hanging glacier.
    • This hanging glacier broke off due to gravitational pull, slid down with the entire rock mass. It slowed down near the base of the valley, where the Raunthi Gadhera stream flows.
    • As the huge mass slowed a bit, then stopped, it blocked the water of the stream and the water quantum kept increasing. This damming up of the stream increased to such an extent that it breached the whole accumulated mass of water.
    • Hence, this whole mass of water, boulders, and rock mass came crashing down with force towards the Rishi Ganga dam site. It caused massive damage to the under-construction Tapovan hydel project and caused floods.

    Source: The Hindu

     More Related post




Geological Disaster

  • Why North-East is More Vulnerable to Earthquakes? – Explained, Pointwise

    An Earthquake of 6.4 magnitude hit Assam on April 28th, 2021. It caused sufficient damage to buildings and property but fortunately, no fatalities were reported. The northeastern region has a peculiar record of experiencing earthquakes at regular intervals due to its unique geographical location. The state of Assam itself witnessed two great earthquakes (Magnitude >8) in 1897 and 1950.

    In this article, we will try to ascertain the reasons behind the occurrence of earthquakes, their brutal impacts, and the vulnerability of the northeast region that converts it into a disaster. Further, we will try to find out what rational measures should be taken for developing robust earthquake resilience.

    How does an earthquake occur?
    • Firstly, an earthquake occurs when there is a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
    • Secondly, the release of energy occurs along a fault. A fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks. 
    • Thirdly, rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite directions. As the overlying rock strata press them, the friction locks them together. However, their tendency to move apart at some point in time overcomes the friction. 
    • Fourthly, as a result, the blocks get deformed, and eventually, they slide past one another abruptly. This causes a release of energy, and the energy waves travel in all directions.

    Read MoreBasics of Earthquake

    Important Terminologies:

    • Focus: The point where the energy is released is called the focus of an earthquake. It is also called the hypocentre.
    • Epicentre: The energy waves travelling in different directions reach the surface. The point on the surface, nearest to the focus, is called the epicentre.
    Current Scenario
    • Recently an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Assam.  It occurred near Dhekiajuli in the Sonitpur district of Assam, 80 kilometres northeast of Guwahati.
    • Following the main tremors, six aftershocks (of magnitude ranging from 3.2 to 4.7) also occurred within two-and-a-half hours. 
    • The National Centre for Seismology (NCS) recently mentioned that these tremors were attributed to the Kopili Fault Zone.
    About Kopili Fault Zone
    • It is a 300-km northwest-southeast trending fault. It extends from the western part of Manipur to the tri-junction of Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam.
    • The zone has witnessed many seismic activities in the past. This includes the 1869 earthquake (7.8 magnitude) and the 1943 earthquake (7.3 magnitude).
    • The zone is located closer to Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT).
      •  It is a geological fault along the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.

    Kopili Fault Zone

    Source: ISR

    History of Earthquakes in the Northeast Region
    • The North-Eastern part of the country continues to experience moderate to large earthquakes at frequent intervals. This includes the two great earthquakes -1897 Shillong (Magnitude – 8.7) and 1950 Assam-Tibet (Magnitude – 8.6).
    • On average, the region experiences an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 6.0 every year.
    Vulnerability of Northeast Region to Earthquake
    • High Seismicity Level: Northeast is located in the highest seismological zone. The Kopili Fault Zone is a seismically active area, so it falls into the highest Seismic Hazard Zone V. It is associated with collisional tectonics because the Indian Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate. 
    • Nature of Soil: Kopili fault zone and its neighbouring areas are characterized by alluvial soils. These alluvial soil have a higher potential of trapping seismic waves. Thus making the region the most earthquake-prone zone in North East India.
    • Terrain: The region has a significant amount of mountainous terrain that demands explosions for building a tunnel, road, etc. infrastructure. This enhances the probability of earthquakes.
    • Untapped Potential: The region has not seen robust development like the rest of India. Thus, a greater number of development projects like mining, dam construction, etc. in the region are under planning. It may enhance earthquake probability in the future.
    • High-technology equipment and tools: There has been an increase in the use of high-technology equipment and tools in the manufacturing and service industries. This has made them susceptible to disruption even by moderate ground shaking.
    • Unscientific Buildings: Many buildings in the cities of Shillong, Gangtok etc. are constructed on the sloping ground. That too by excavating some part of the hill. 
      • The open ground storey, heavy overhangs, heavy rooftops, and irregular plan shapes are common in buildings that make them seismically more vulnerable.
    • Policy gap: There is a considerable knowledge and policy gap regarding earthquakes in the Northeast. Even a good knowledge about the Kopili fault did not result in disaster reduction policies.
    Earthquake Zonation in India
    • India has been divided into four seismic zones (II, III, IV, and V) based on scientific inputs relating to seismicity, earthquakes that occurred in the past and the tectonic setup of the region.


    Seismic Zone of India

    Source: National Institute of Disaster Management

    General reasons behind the occurrence of earthquakes
    • Firstly, Tectonic Activities: Sliding of rocks along a fault plane can cause sudden shaking of the ground, resulting in an earthquake.
    • Secondly, Volcanic activities: A special class of tectonic earthquakes is sometimes recognized as a volcanic earthquake. However, these are confined to areas of active volcanoes.
    • Thirdly, Human-Induced: Minor earthquakes and tremors that are caused by human activity like mining, large-scale petroleum extraction, artificial lakes (reservoirs), nuclear tests, etc.
      • Collapse Earthquakes: In the areas of intense mining activity, sometimes the roofs of underground mines collapse causing minor tremors.
      • Explosion Earthquakes: Ground shaking may also occur due to the explosion of chemical or nuclear devices. Such tremors are called explosion earthquakes.
      • Reservoir-induced: The earthquakes that occur in the areas of large reservoirs are referred to as reservoir-induced earthquakes.
    Impact of Earthquake
    1. Loss of Human Lives: The earthquakes have eaten up thousands of precious human lives across the world.
      • Around 1,542 deaths occurred in Assam during the 1897 Great Earthquake. 
    2. Infrastructural Damage: Several houses and buildings were damaged after an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 hit Assam.
      • Similarly, the great Assam earthquake (1897) reduced all masonry buildings to debris within a region of northeastern India. This is roughly the size of England.
    3. Initiating another disaster: The 1950 Assam earthquake caused huge landslides. These landslides in turn blocked many rivers in the mountainous region and caused floods. 
    4. Land Degradation: The recent Kolipi Fault zone earthquake caused cracks in a paddy field situated in Tatkal Basti village of Misamari, a town on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh foothills.
    5. Economic Losses:  A significant amount is spent on reconstructing the lost infrastructure, rehabilitation of masses, and providing relief support to the impacted people.
    • Firstly, the government has to fix the knowledge and policy gap regarding earthquakes in North East India.
    • Secondly, the government has to build an effective Earthquake mitigation plan. This would involve constructing resilient infrastructure among other things. 
      • For instance, the Delhi Metro pillar can easily withstand an earthquake of magnitude 9.
    • Thirdly, an integrated disaster management plan should be developed for the North East. This plan will help in tackling these types of high-intensity earthquakes.
    • Fourthly, due adherence to Environmental impact assessment must be observed before initiating mining or dam construction.
    • Fifthly, more funding should be given to Earthquake planning and mitigating agencies to improve disaster management potential.
      • For instance, the National Centre for Seismology has developed ‘India Quake’. An App for Earthquake Parameter Dissemination 

    Being in the seismic zone 5, earthquakes are bound to occur in the northeast region. The government is incapable of stopping their occurrence. Although it can definitely curtail their adverse impact by developing robust resilience in consonance with Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

  • “Kopili fault Zone” – A Reason behind Assam Tremors

    What is the News?

    The National Centre for Seismology (NCS) has said that the tremors in Assam can be attributed to the Kopili Fault Zone. The fault zone is located closer to Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT).

    About the tremors in Assam:

    Recently an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Assam. Following the main tremors, six aftershocks (of magnitude ranging from 3.2 to 4.7) also occurred within two-and-a-half hours. The NCS recently mentioned that these tremors were attributed to the Kopili Fault Zone.

    Kopili Fault Zone:

    Kopili fault

    • The Kopili fault zone is a 300-km northwest-southeast trending fault. It is extending from the western part of Manipur to the tri-junction of Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
      • A fault is a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock. Faults allow the blocks to move relative to each other. This movement may occur rapidly, in the form of an earthquake. Or it may occur slowly, in the form of creep.
    • Seismically Active: This zone is a seismically active area, so it falls into the highest Seismic Hazard Zone V.
    • The zone is associated with collisional tectonics because of the Indian Plate subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate.
      • Subduction is a geological process in which one crustal plate is forced below the edge of another.
    • Characteristics: Kopili fault zone and its neighbouring areas are characterised by alluvial soils. These alluvial soil have a higher potential of trapping seismic waves. Thus making the region the most earthquake-prone zone in North East India.
    • Earlier Earthquakes: Kopili fault zone has witnessed many seismic activities in the past. This includes the 1869 earthquake (7.8 magnitude) and the 1943 earthquake (7.3 magnitude).
    About Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT):

    It is also known as the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT). It is a geological fault along the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.

    Way Forward:
    • Firstly, the government has to fix the knowledge and policy gap regarding earthquakes in North East India.
    • Secondly, the government has to build an effective Earthquake mitigation plan.
    • Thirdly, an integrated disaster management plan should be developed for the North East. This plan will help in tackling these types of high-intensity earthquakes.

    Source: Down To Earth


Industrial and Nuclear disasters

  • Issue of Nuclear Waste pollution – Explained, Pointwise


    The establishment of nuclear plants happened as an alternative to thermal power stations due to their low carbon footprint. However, a particular issue associated with their functioning is the generation of nuclear waste (or radioactive waste). This waste is highly contaminated and requires proper processing and treatment before its release into the environment.

    The issue of nuclear waste has again come to the limelight. Japan decided to release the accumulated wastewater in Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. 

    What is Nuclear Waste?
    • Radioactive (or nuclear) waste is a by-product of nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, hospitals, and research facilities.
    • It can be in gas, liquid, or solid form. The level of radioactivity can also vary depending on the radioactive waste. 
    • The waste can remain radioactive for a few hours or several months or even hundreds of thousands of years. 
    • These Radioactive wastes can be classified into the following types. 
      1. Exempt waste – It includes waste that meets the criteria for clearance, exemption, or exclusion from regulatory control for radiation protection purposes.
      2. Low & Intermediate level (LIL) waste: These have low levels of radioactivity. It includes 
        • The material used to handle the highly radioactive parts of nuclear reactors (i.e. cooling water pipes and radiation suits).
        • Waste from medical procedures involving radioactive treatments or x-rays etc.
      3. High-Level Waste: These have high levels of radioactivity and are mainly produced during reprocessing of spent fuel.
        • The waste includes uranium, plutonium, and other highly radioactive elements made during fission. 
        • They have extremely long half-lives (some longer than 100,000 years). This means it take long time periods before the waste settles to a safer level of radioactivity.
    Current Scenario
    • Japan has decided to release more than 1 million tons of treated radioactive water (or wastewater) into the Pacific Ocean. This radioactive water belongs to the Fukushima nuclear plant. 
    • Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is located in the town of Okuma, Japan. The reactor is located on the country’s east coast. It is about 220 km north-east of the capital Tokyo.
    • The 2011 Earthquake(magnitude 9.0), destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant’s electricity and cooling capacity. Since then, Japan is struggling with the piling-up of contaminated water from the nuclear plant.
    • This includes liquid used for cooling and rain and groundwater that has seeped in.

    How is Japan Planning to Treat Radioactive water? 

    1. Japan is using an extensive pumping and filtration system known as “ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System)”. The ALPS process helps in extraction of tonnes of newly radioactive water each day.
    2. However, it cannot remove some radioactive isotopes. Such as tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
    3. Japan is planning to release the contaminated water containing tritium into the ocean.
    4. The country believes that the release of wastewater is the most realistic option, and unavoidable in order to achieve Fukushima’s recovery.
    Arguments supporting the release:
    • Japan has robust treatment plants that can dilute toxins in wastewater to permissible international standards. 
      • For instance, ALPS extracts tonnes of newly contaminated water each day and filters out most radioactive elements.
    • The storage capacity at the Fukushima site will run out in 2022.
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) supports the decision as:
      1. Radioactive elements (except tritium) will be removed from the water before it is discharged.
      2. Tritium is considered relatively harmless because it does not emit enough energy to penetrate human skin
      3. Further tritium will also be reduced to small quantities before its release into the ocean. Also, it is harmful only in large quantities.
      4. Nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater
    Impact of releasing radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean
    1. Health Impacts: Environmental groups like Greenpeace say that radioactive materials (like carbon-14) can remain in water post-discharge. It results in their concentration in the food chain, and further creates multiple health problems.
    2. Effect on Marine Ecosystem: There is a fear that some aquatic animals may die. As the waste discharge might hamper the stability of the marine ecosystem.  
    3. Blow to Fishing Industry: Water release will also threaten the confidence of the masses regarding the quality of seafood. People might start consuming less. Thus hampering the livelihood of fishermen.
    4. Mistrust among neighbours: Both China and South Korea have criticised the Japanese plan to release radioactive water. This may hinder their future relations.
    Nuclear Waste Disposal in India:
    1. In India the nuclear waste disposal is based on the concept of – ‘Delay and Delay’, ‘Dilute and Disperse’, ‘Concentrate and  Contain’.
    2. Effective management involves segregation, characterization, handling, treatment, conditioning, and monitoring of nuclear waste prior to its final disposal.
    3. A low level of waste is stored for 10- 50 years. It allows most of the radioactive isotopes in low-level waste to decay. After that, it is disposed of as normal refuse.
    4. The management of high-level waste in the Indian context encompasses the following three stages:  
      1. Immobilization of high-level liquid waste into vitrified borosilicate glasses through the process of vitrification.
        • Vitrification is the rapid cooling of the liquid medium in the absence of ice crystal formation. The solution forms an amorphous glass as a result of rapid cooling. 
        • India has operating vitrification plants at Tarapur and Trombay.
      2. Engineered interim storage of the vitrified waste for passive cooling & surveillance over a period of time, qualifying it for ultimate disposal.
      3. Ultimate storage/disposal of the vitrified waste in a deep geological repository.
    Concerns associated with Nuclear Waste
    1. Long Half-Life: The products of nuclear fission have long half-lives. This means that they will continue to be radioactive for thousands of years and pose a risk to the surrounding environment.
    2. Storage Sites: It is very difficult to find a suitable disposal site for them due to environmental and public concerns.
    3. Grave health impacts: The biggest concern is the negative effects it can have on the human body when exposed to radiation. Long-term exposure to nuclear waste radiation can even cause cancer.
    4. Adverse impact on nature: Not disposing of nuclear waste properly can have huge environmental impacts. It can cause genetic problems for many generations of animals and plants. Further contamination of water, air, and soil can also occur. 
    5. Financial Strain: If any nuclear accident occurs, then the cost of cleaning everything up and making everything safe once again is very high.
    1. Japan should release the wastewater gradually in consonance with international standards. Further Fukushima’s food products in Fukushima have to adhere to the 50 Bq/kg radiation. This will win consumer trust.
      • Becquerel is the SI unit of radioactivity. Bq/kg refers to becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram.
    2. In the Indian context, India should construct a deep geological repository for disposing of high-level waste. The government has to give priority to the areas having remoteness from the environment and the absence of circulating groundwater in such construction.
      • Further, the repository must have the ability to contain radionuclides for geologically long periods of time. 
    3. Similarly, due adherence to Environmental impact assessment also observed before establishing a waste disposal facility. 
    4. India also has to enable Greater Research and Development towards the development of new vitrification technologies like Cold Crucible Induction Melting (CCIM).
      • It has the capability to treat various high-level waste forms with better waste loading and enhanced melter life.

    India requires nuclear energy in the form of an alternate fuel that would meet its future demand and climate commitments. Nuclear plants can be established and operated only when there is significant public trust in their functioning. This automatically demands the safe disposal and management of nuclear waste.

  • Japan to release “Fukushima Radioactive Water” into sea
    What is the News?

    Japan is planning to release more than 1 million metric tons of Fukushima radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Japanese government planned to release this water into the ocean after two years.

    About Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant:
    • Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is located in the town of Okuma, Japan. The reactor is located on the country’s east coast. It is about 220 km north-east of the capital Tokyo.
    • The 2011 Earthquake, destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant’s electricity and cooling capacity. Since then, Japan is struggling with the piling-up of contaminated water from the nuclear plant.
    How is Japan treating the Fukushima Radioactive Water?
    • Japan is using an extensive pumping and filtration system known as “ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System)”. The ALPS process is used to extract tonnes of newly radioactive water each day. Further, it also filters out most radioactive elements.
    • The ALPS process removes most of the radioactive isotopes. It will make the nuclear content in water levels lower than the international safety guidelines for nuclear plant wastewater.
    • However, it cannot remove some radioactive isotopes. Such as tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
    Release of Fukushima Radioactive Water:
    • Japan is planning to release the contaminated water containing tritium into the ocean.
    • Tritium considered to be relatively harmless because it does not emit enough energy to penetrate human skin. But when ingested tritium can create cancer risks.


    • Some scientists have pointed out that the long-term effects on marine life are unknown. Especially a low-dose exposure to such large amounts of material like tritium.
    • Further, the experts also point out the ill effects of radioactive isotope Strontium 90. Strontium released in the ocean can start to concentrate in the bones of both fish and humans. Thereby increasing cancer risks.

    Source: Indian Express


  • IFFCO gas leak: How dangerous is ammonia?

    Source: The Indian Express

    News: A major ammonia gas leakage at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited(IFFCO) unit at Prayagraj has occurred.


    • What is Ammonia? A tri-hydroid of nitrogen(NH3), ammonia is a building block for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertiliser.
    • Source of Ammonia: It is highly soluble in water, is found in soil, air, and water; it is naturally present in the body and secreted by the kidneys to neutralise excess acid.However, it is highly diluted when in the environment and does not affect the human body to a noticeable level.
    • Acceptable Limit: The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water as per the Bureau of Indian Standards is 0.5 ppm.
    • Uses:
      • Ammonia is stored for industrial use in liquid form under high pressure or in gaseous form at low temperature.
      • Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers, and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world. More than 80% of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde.
    • How is it harmful on Human Body?
      • Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, respiratory tract to form ammonium hydroxide which is very caustic and disrupts the cell membrane lipids ultimately leading to cellular destruction.
      • If Ammonia is inhaled in excess, the gas is toxic and affects the lungs with a possibility of causing chemical pneumonitis — inflammation of the lung caused by aspirating or inhaling irritants.

Accident and Biological disaster

  • Steps to Prevent Frequent Building Collapse in Mumbai

    Synopsis: Every Year Mumbai witnesses incidents of building collapse during monsoon. However, the steps taken are not adequate.


    In Mumbai, recently an unsafe multi-storeyed building has collapsed in a core area of the city. It resulted in the loss of the lives of at least 11 people.

    The disaster is a repetition of incidents like that every year. People are inhabiting unsafe and illegal buildings, and civic authorities are failing to act in time, as usual.

    • Mumbai needs a time-bound and accountable system of ensuring the safety of its housing stock.
    • The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority identified 21 structures in Mumbai as being extremely dangerous in this year’s monsoon. It advised 700 occupants to move to temporary accommodation, while reconstruction takes place.
    • However, the people who live there are reluctant as the alternative housing is far away from their education and work locations. This is a challenge that Maharashtra will have to address.
    What should be done?

    Coastal Maharashtra is vulnerable to extreme monsoon weather events. Such events are increasing in frequency due to the ongoing warming of the Arabian Sea. It should be treated as a crisis that will only get worse by changes to monsoon rainfall intensity over time. Thus following steps are required: –

    • Firstly, scientists of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology have suggested that accurate monsoon forecasting would help governments prepare better to save lives and agriculture.
    • Secondly, Mumbai needs to accelerate its repair and restoration program for weak buildings and replace those that cannot be recovered.
    • Thirdly, the city urgently needs canals for huge volumes, for water to flow out. A plan to create new urban wetlands where it is possible to store the rainfall is required.
    • Fourthly, a revival of Mithi river is needed as it could offer some relief. Its planned clean-up was delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. More such water bodies are required, and it will take a mass housing program to make life safer for the thousands in shacks.
    • Fifthly, a far-sighted plan to shift people from filthy buildings to modern ones is important on health grounds as well. This process should begin with the most dangerous structures first.

    Source: click here

  • Lab leak theory of Coronavirus needs credible investigation

    Synopsis: The theory that Coronavirus could have been man-made from Wuhan Institute of Virology is increasing. So, adequate studies are necessary regarding the Lab leak theory of Coronavirus.

    • When the Covid-19 became a pandemic, China promoted the narrative that the virus had a natural origin, and it got spread from a wet market in Wuhan. This was done to avoid any scrutiny on researches being carried out in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
    • Soon, the idea of a Lab leak theory of Coronavirus was discredited as a conspiracy theory and most experts embraced the natural spread narrative.
    • Even the findings of the WHO on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (coronavirus) dismissed the lab leak as “extremely unlikely”.
    • However, recent developments point out the possibility that coronavirus could have originated from a lab leak, either intentionally or unintentionally.
    • Recently, the U.S. President made an appeal to the U.S. intelligence community “to collect and analyse information so that, a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the virus could be made.
    • Further, the publication by Nicholas Wade, titled the origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?” has laid out a strong case for a fuller investigation into this event.

    Read Also :-India – China Informal Summit

    Arguments in support of lab leak theory of Coronavirus
    • First, advancement in biotechnology had made it possible to genetically engineer existing pathogens to make them more lethal and difficult to treat.
    • Second, in 2019, the head of corona virus-related research at WIV lab, in an interview, talked about the research carried out involving the creation of novel, life-threatening and pandemic-creating viruses.
    • Third, though The WIV operates a Biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) facility, many times the deficient safety standards had been reported by U.S. inspectors but no remedial measures were taken.
    • Fourth, China’s reluctance to share data, covering up facts and impeding investigation raises suspicion.
    • Fifth, the findings of WHO is also being discarded on the account that the inquiry team had persons with vest interests in the WIV experimentation.
    • Sixth, there are instances when Smallpox and other viruses have escaped from secured laboratories before.

     Read Also :-NGT Action On Vishakapatnam Gas Leak 


    To prevent future pandemics or an event of Biowarfare, the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) needs to be strengthened by resolving the following drawbacks. Such as,

      1. The convention has no systems to verify compliance with its prohibitions. So, the global countries have to come together to build such a system
      2. The convention lacks enforcement mechanisms to penalize infringement of its provisions. So, the enforcement system has to be strengthened.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Frequent Hospital Fires during COVID Time in India- Cause and Way forward

    Synopsis – The hospital system in India has been overwhelmed by the heavy patient load and arrangement for the pandemic. It has increased their vulnerability to fire.

    • Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and mismanagement, the hospital system is becoming over stressed, resulting in frequent fire incidents.
    • Since last August, more than 93 people have died in 24 hospital fire incidents in India. The majority of them were Covid-19 patients.
    Major reason behind frequent hospital fire in India despite fire checks and audits-
    • Electrical faults are cited as the leading cause of fires –
      • Overheated ICU’s and ACs- In most hospitals, to meet the current COVID-19 situation, medical equipment or wires are in use beyond their capacity. It is overheating the electrical wiring system, causing the fire.
      • Short circuit or overloading due to continuous running ACs in hospitals.
    • Mismanagement in hospital – Placing more ICU beds in limited space also makes it more vulnerable to fire spread.
    • Lack of cross-ventilation – Hospital ICUs (for COVID-19) are at significant fire risk because they remain sealed for the purpose of keeping them sterile.
    • Highly inflammable material in Hospitals- sanitizer spills and vapor, higher oxygen content in the air, and PPE kits made of synthetic materials all contribute to the rapid spread of fire.
    What to do to reduce fire accidents in hospitals?
    • All states need to carry out proper fire and electrical audits of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals in order to reduce the frequent cases.
    • As the health sector expands to accommodate pandemic arrangements, it is essential that all new facilities and plans meet safety standards such as-
      • Cross-ventilation in ICUs – There is a requirement of proper ventilation passage in ICUs to allow fumes an outlet.
      • Keeping electrical equipment for ACs away from oxygen-saturated areas will reduce the risk.
      • Fire safety drills- Hospitals should mandatorily hold regular fire safety and evacuation drills.
      • Hospitals must install sprinklers, which start dispensing water [35 liters per minute] as the temperature increases above 78 °C.
      • There must be installation of fire extinguishers in temporary hospitals. A fire truck must also get stationed outside hospitals in the event of a major disaster.

    Source- The Indian Express

  • Guidelines of National Building Code to Ensure Fire Safety in Public buildings

    Synopsis:  Effective regulations to manage fire risks in public buildings like Guidelines of National Building Code are available. However, lack of enforcement by states has led to fire disasters in India.

    • Fire accident in Public building has been a recurrent event in India. For instance,
      • Fire accidents in hospitals at Bharuch in Gujarat, Virar (Mumbai), and Mumbra near Thane, have killed at least 37 people.
    • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 330 people have died in commercial building fires in 2019.
    • When we include fire accidents in residential or dwelling buildings, the fatality rate gets very high at 6,329.
    • Some common causes are:
      1. Electrical failures
      2. failure of the state to ensure adherence to safety laws
      3. Lack of modern tech to ensure safety in public buildings.
    What are the legal provisions available to ensure fire safety compliance in public buildings?
    • First, the National Building Code of India deals with Fire and life safety. The Bureau of Indian Standards has published it, as a recommendatory document. However, the Home Ministry asked States to incorporate it into their local building bylaws. It makes the recommendations a “mandatory requirement”.
    • Guidelines under NBC
      1. One, it provides specifications and guidelines for design and materials that reduce the threat of destructive fires. For example,
        • It specifies fire resistance materials to be used in exterior walls, interior bearing walls, floor, roof, fire check doors, fire enclosure exits, etc.,
      2. Two, The Code, classifies all the existing and new buildings by nature of use. For example; residential, educational, institutional, assembly (like cinemas and auditorial), Industrial, etc.,
      3. It recommends the location of buildings by type of use in specific zones. This is to ensure that industrial and hazardous structures do not coexist with residential, institutional, office, and business buildings.
      4. Three, the code prescribes incorporation of the technologies into buildings to alert in case of a fire and also to fight. Examples are, automatic fire detection and alarm system, automatic sprinklers and water sprays, fireman’s lift, fire barriers, etc.,
      5. Four, It provides exemptions for various buildings in case of practical difficulty. A local head, fire services may consider exemptions from the Code.
      6. Despite, the existence of fire safety rules in every state, the provisions of the Code are ignored in practice.
    • Second, Fire Safety Committees were constituted. They conduct periodical audits on fire installation, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and other electrical equipment in the Union government’s hospitals.
    • Third, Health Ministry has also imposed a third-party accreditation for fire safety. It has also formed strict guidelines for a mandatory fire response plan in every hospital.
    • Fourth, The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also provided mandatory requirements for fire safety in public buildings, including hospitals.
      • Such as, maintaining minimum open safety space, protected exit mechanisms, dedicated staircases, and crucial drills to carry out evacuations.
    • Fifth, the Supreme Court has directed all States to carry out fire safety audits of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals.
    Has there been adequate implementation of National Building Code by the estates?
    Evidence shows that States lack the manpower to inspect and ensure compliance with safety codes, including NBC. For instance,
      • According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report (2010 to 2015), in Maharashtra, a joint physical inspection by an audit of 53 government buildings revealed that only fire extinguishers were installed in 11 of 53 buildings, and the remaining 42 buildings were not equipped with any of the fire-fighting installations.
    • Further, Tamil Nadu and Kerala though have broader regulations, still there has been no reference for compliance with the National Building code.
    Way forward

    Making heavy fire liability insurance compulsory for all public buildings, will ensure protection to occupants and visitors and bring about external inspection of safety.

    Source: The Hindu

How to Read Disaster Management and Internal Security for UPSC IAS Mains

Disaster Management and Internal Security are part of the UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies Paper III. These two topics are highly current affairs based. You must get updated with the current events related to Disaster and Internal Security to perform well in the exam. As a Civil Servant also, you will need to handle and manage many critical situations in real life. Overall, these two subjects are very important as questions are mostly analytical in nature and with correct approach you can score well.

In this article, we will discuss about the preparation strategy for Disaster Management and Internal Security for UPSC.

First of all, we will see past year trend of Disaster Management and Internal Security in the UPSC IAS Mains:

Disaster Management1 Question2 Questions1 Question1 Question1 Question
Internal Security4 Questions4 Questions3 Questions4 Questions4 Questions

Overview of the Syllabus of Disaster Management and Internal Security for UPSC IAS Mains:

Subject Syllabus
Disaster Management· Disaster and Disaster Management
Internal Security· Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.

· Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.

· Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering and its prevention.

· Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.

· Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.


  • Disaster Management for UPSC:

Preparation strategy for Disaster Management for UPSC:

  • Read the Syllabus: First of all, you should go through the syllabus of Disaster Management for UPSC. Only few words are mentioned in the syllabus of Disaster Management, so it is advisable to the students that they will see the textbook and will gather topics which they have to study. This topic is very dynamic and in coming years gaining importance because of the disasters taking place in recent year.
  • Start with NCERT textbook: You can start with NCERT Class XI textbook Unit IV-Natural Hazards & Disaster Management.This chapter will build your base and major source to prepare this topic.
  • Refer last 10 years’ questions asked from Disaster Management:You can see and analyze the questions asked in last 10 years. Based on this, you can also make a list of important topics. Topics which are not mentioned in the NCERT textbook, you can make notes of them by referring newspaper or online sources. You should also practice answer writing on the questions asked.
  • Refer one book for static portion:You can refer one textbook for Disaster Management for UPSC and can revise it multiple times. You can refer Yojana and 2nd ARC 3rd Report on Crisis Management and can prepare notes from there.
  • Notes making is important:As Disaster Management topic is very small. You can make your own notes and revise them. This will help you during final exam. You can update your notes based on current events.
  • Current events:Disaster Management is very dynamic topic. So, it is very important to get updated with the day-to-day current events. And you should make detailed notes on them.
  • Newspaper reading:You must read one newspaper daily. This will help you to improve your knowledge and content. Some dynamic portion of the Disaster Management will be covered from newspaper as well.
  • Current affairs magazine:You must read one current affair monthly magazine. Some portions of Disaster Management for UPSC are also linked with Geography. Hence, current affairs magazine will help you to co-relate the things and also to cover the portions you have missed by chance.

Revise the notes: You should revise the notes multiple times and keep them updated based on current events.

  • Internal Security

Why Internal Security for UPSC is important: This is very important topic as currently many Naxal attacks are happening in India. This topic is combination of static and dynamic knowledge. Static because you need to know why internal Security is important and why there are Internal Security threats in India. Dynamic because you need to know what all are happenings and in which areas. What are solutions to it. As a Civil Servant, your role would be development of the society. Without resolving issues related to Internal Security, you can fulfil the demand of your post. So, these topics are very important from both exam perspective and as a future Civil Servant.

  • Preparation Strategy for Internal Security for UPSC:
  • Read the Syllabus:The topics given in the syllabus under Internal Security are important to understand deeply. Every question that will be asked in the exam will be from these topics only. You need to read them many times.
  • Refer one textbook:You can refer one textbook on Internal Security. Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar is one the best book on Internal Security. This book has explained everything in simple terms with good examples.
  • Prepare notes:You should prepare your own notes on these topics. You can take help from past year solved question papers, one good textbook, newspaper and current affairs magazines. You should keep them updating to make it a dynamic material.
  • Newspaper reading and current affairs magazines:You must read one newspaper on a daily basis and one monthly current affairs magazine.
  • Write answers:You must write answers to the questions asked in past years in UPSC Mains. It will give you more idea about how to approach towards good answers. You can join test series for General Studies for UPSC Mains. Daily answer writing practice improve the quality of your answers.
  • Watch RSTV Big Picture debate:It will also help to analyze the issues in details and will help you to find solutions for it.
  • Revise:You must revise your notes. Rather than reading multiple sources, your focus should be on revising single source multiple times.

These two topics, Disaster Management and Internal Security are very dynamic. With little efforts and correct approach one can understand the topics and write good answers.