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:
- The report explores the systemic nature of drought and its impacts on the achievement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the SDGs, and human and ecosystem, health and wellbeing.
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.
“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.
Link between Dam and Natural disasters – Explained Pointwise
Table of contents:
Rishiganga dam in Uttarakhand was recently destroyed by the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood and intensified the GLOF in the region. This is not the first time a Dam is aiding and intensifying the disaster in India. It can be a potential hazard to both human life and the environment. This raises a larger question on the net benefit of big dams.
What is Dam?
It is a structure built across a stream or river to hold back water. There are many reasons to build a dam. Such as,
How dams are aiding disasters?
Dams were built to provide benefits to human. But many times instead of providing benefits, dams are harming the region by aiding a disaster. The reasons are:
- Dams as a hydropower plant: Construction of hydro-power plant requires diversion of rivers through tunnels to generate power. The construction of these tunnels unsettles the mountainous terrain by displacing the supportive sediment. It results in the slipping down of rocks due to the removal of their support system (Landslides).
- Dams as a reason for frequent floods: Due to poor maintenance, siltation, etc. dams are not able to hold adequate water. This is responsible for the increasing frequency of floods in India.
- Dam as a solution to prevent/divert large run-off water: To protect the river run-off, many bigger dams have been constructed in highly vulnerable locations, like the Himalayas. For example, the entire state of Uttarakhand is vulnerable to earthquakes, but there are large dams planned in the fragile region that disturb the ecosystem. Dams in these locations aggravate the natural disaster.
- Dams as a reason for an earthquake: When a large quantity of water is loaded and unloaded frequently in the region, it might lead to reservoir induced seismicity. For example, Koyna earthquake of December 1967.
All these reasons lead to dam failure. This is then followed by a large-scale release of water, downstream of the river and creating floods. This will create economical, infrastructural, environmental, and livelihood losses.
Dams aided disasters in the past:
- The worst dam disaster in India was the Machu dam failure (Gujarat) in 1979. The torrential rainfall in the area created a large scale flood and a failure in the dam. According to the official estimates, around 2000 people had lost their lives.
- In August 2018 Kerala witnessed its worst floods since 1924 due to the torrential rainfall. Too much water stored in the dam aggravated the disaster. At least 35 of 50 large dams had been opened for releasing water in to the already flooded areas. The flood took the lives of around 503 people in the state.
- Similarly, in 2019 heavy rain caused a breach in Tiware dam (Maharastra). This led to the flooding of seven villages and 20 people swept away.
- Most recently, a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood destroyed the Rishiganga dam. This led to a large surge of water downstream which breached the Tapovan Hydropower Plant.
Vulnerability of Indian dams:
- India has more old dams. India in total has 5,745 reservoirs in the country, of which, 293 are more than 100 years old. The age of 25% of the dams is between 50 and 100 years and the remaining 80% are over 25 years old. Ageing dams face the following issues,
- Differential settlement of foundation in the dam,
- Clogging of filters, increase of uplift pressures,
- Cracks in the dam core,
- Loss of bond between the concrete structure and embankment,
- Reduction in slope stability in earthen and rockfill dams,
- Erosion of earthen slopes,
- Deformation of the dam body itself.
All these aids the intensification of any disaster.
- Many dams have structural deficiencies and shortcomings in operation and monitoring facilities. Few dams not even meet the present safety standards on structural and hydrological conditions.
- Many states are not providing sufficient budgets for the maintenance and repair of the dam. There is also a lack of institutional and technical capacities for addressing dam safety issues. For example, According to Central Water Commission data, “Not even a single dam in Kerala was inspected before monsoon during Kerala floods”.
- The current legal framework does not have any provision for penalizing the person/trust/state responsible for dam failure.
- Real-time inflow forecasting systems are not in place even in important reservoirs. This creates vulnerability to dam safety and dam operation.
Government Initiatives to improve dam safety:
- Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)
- It is a World Bank assisted project. The project aims to improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances sustainably.
- Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation through the Central Water Commission, is implementing the project.
- Dam Safety Bill, 2019.
- The Bill provides for proper surveillance, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all specified dams in the country.
- The Bill aims to constitute the National Committee on Dam Safety. The committee shall suggest dam safety policies and also recommend any necessary regulations.
- The Bill also establishes the National Dam Safety Authority. The NDSA is a regulatory body that discharges functions to implement the policy, guidelines, and standards in the country.
- The Bill also provides for the constitution of a State-level Committee on Dam Safety by State Governments.
- Dam Health And Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA)
- It is a web-based software package. It supports the effective collection and management of Dam Safety data in all large dams of India.
- The major aim of DHARMA is to digitize all dam related data.
- Seismic Hazard Assessment Information System (SHAISYS) for mapping Seismic Hazards.
Suggestions to make dams disaster-resilient:
- State governments should strictly follow the dam safety manual.
- Creation of the buffer zone: States have to ensure that there is no encroachment in the nearby area.
- Need to integrate urban-rural planning with dam safety. Since India is a populous country, it is impossible to shift people during calamities. Proper dissemination of information on a real-time basis and regular flushing of water has to be carried out downstream to keep the river beds dry. This can be done only through an integrated approach.
- A Standing Committee recommended a penal provision for dam failures on authorities. The government has to incorporate this into law. Along with that, the government has to increase the capacity building of locals and associated institutions.
- The government has to create a well-planned monitoring system using modern instruments. This is the key to the early detection of defects and averts disasters.
The government must consider the issue holistically and avoid building large dams for political gains in fragile regions. The construction of a dam is not a disaster, but the mismanagement and poor planning of the dam is a disaster which affects all of us in a severe manner. It is a high time for the government to understand this.
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.
Mindless development could bring more calamities
Synopsis: Development work in the Himalayas is being carried out without an understanding of its fragility, seismicity, glacial behavior.
The flash floods due to the burst of an artificial lake inside Nanda Devi Sanctuary is the newest warning given by the Himalayas to the supporters of development. The loss of lives, property, and projects is estimated at more than Rs. 4,000 crore.
- According to Planet Labs, ice along with frozen mud and rocks fell down from a high mountain inside the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.
- The current winter season has had less rain and snow as a result the effects of chemical weathering were much more active in the higher Himalayas.
- Rishi Ganga has seen similar devastations in the past. There was a lake burst in Rishi Ganga in 1968. Another lake burst in Rishi Ganga was seen at the time of the 1970 Alaknanda floods.
How have the developmental activities caused troubles in the Himalayan region?
Development activities have increased the destructive powers of the calamities as less destructive methods, technologies and rules are available but not followed.
- Firstly, studies have suggested that the pace of climate change is faster in mountains and fastest in the Himalayas. The huge displacement of soil, silt, and stones in the river floor owing to development projects force the raging river to behave differently.
- Secondly, the projects have been carried out despite the protests by the local people.
- People protested against the Vishnu Ganga project, which was devastated in the 2013 floods and rebuilt.
- The people of Reni protested against the Rishi Ganga project as they were aware of the river’s flood history. The Supreme Court and the Uttarakhand High Court gave judgments against the construction of dams in the inner Himalayas.
- Thirdly, a slight error in the monsoon forecast alters the preparedness in the region resulting in a severe calamity.
- In the 2013 calamity, the India Meteorological Department wrongly announced that the monsoon will reach Uttarakhand by June 27-28. It reached a week before with 300-400 percent more rain. Thus, the death toll and scale of destruction was record-breaking.
- Fourthly, any hindrance in the river-bed increases the power of the river. In such a situation, water and silt dominate the surrounding and downstream areas. For example, the VishnuPrayag Project was destroyed by the combined power of Khiron Gad and Pushpawati.
- Fifth, the assessment of committees is not implemented. The Ravi Chopra committee formed by the SC recommended the closure of all the 24 hydro projects by the Wildlife Institute of India.
- Moreover, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was a function of independent functionaries. Now this task is assigned to a government agency.
Locals do not want to risk their homes, fields, etc. in the name of development. The Himalayas have been giving us life through water, fertile soil, biodiversity, wilderness, and a feel of spirituality. We cannot and should not try to control or dictate the Himalayas.
Fragility of Himalayan Mountain Ecosystem
Gs3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Synopsis: The recent Glacial outburst in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district is a consequence of human’s impact on climate and lack of awareness towards local ecology.
- Recently a glacier collapsed in Uttarakhand’s Nanda Devi. According to some satellite images, the glacier collapsed as a result of a landslide. It resulted in flash floods in the Rishiganga and Dhauliganga rivers.
- It claimed many lives of persons working in two hydropower projects.
- Although the ITBP through immediate action rescued nearly 15 people still many people are found missing.
How Climate change is impacting the Mountain ecosystem and how it is impacting Human livelihood?
- Anthropogenic activities are continuously affecting the earth’s climate. The change in the Mountain ecosystem is an indicator of that effect.
- Mountain ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate change owing to their altitude, slope, and orientation to the sun.
- Due to increased global warming, mountains glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates. It is reducing the area for the survival of flora and fauna.
- For example, satellite observations reveal that across India, China, Nepal, and Bhutan the melting of glaciers has doubled since the start of the 21st century.
- The melting of glaciers threatens water sustainability for hundreds of millions of people in counties, including India. These impacts become severe due to the increase in pressure on water resources for irrigation and food production, industrialization, and urbanization.
What are the reasons for climatic disaster in Uttarakhand?
The frequent disasters in Uttarakhand are not only caused by nature but also due to an indiscriminate increase in hydropower projects.
- Uttarakhand mountain ecosystem faces various threats such as seismicity, dam-induced micro seismicity, landslides. For example, the entire State of Uttarakhand falls under Zone-IV and V of the earthquake risk map of India.
- Besides being an earthquake-prone zone, it is also prone to Flood disasters. Bursting of glacial lakes can cause flash floods with catastrophic consequences. For instance, moderate earthquakes in the Tehri dam caused the 2013 floods in Kedarnath.
- Despite all these threats, the Uttarakhand government has indiscriminately pursued a greater number of hydropower projects. For example, the ongoing Tapovan power project.
- Also, India has heavily invested in dam development and the growth of hydropower in the Himalayas’ region to cut carbon emissions.
- For example, if the national plan to construct dams in 28 river valleys in the hills is completed, the Indian Himalayas will have one dam for every 32 km. (The highest density in the world).
- Apart from this, the life of dams is often exaggerated without taking a proper account of the siltation level in the dams. For example, in the Bhakra dam in Himachal Pradesh, the siltation was higher by 140% than calculated.
These hydropower projects are incompatible with the local environment and ecology. They have increased the risk of disaster manifolds impacting the life and livelihood of millions of people.
What is the way forward?
- The government should realize that the fragility of the Himalayan mountain’s ecosystems. Governments need to re-prioritize their projects based on the potential of the mountains, local and traditional knowledge as well as the aspirations of the place.
- Hydro projects should be confined to the areas with the least impact in the Himalayas. Also, the government needs to build more low-impact run-of-the-river power projects rather than building destructive large dams and reservoirs.
- Projects that are incompatible with the local environment and ecology should not be promoted just by giving due consideration to development or economic growth.
“Global Climate Risk Index 2021” – India is 7th Worst Hit Nation
What is the News?
German watch, the Germany-based think tank, released the Global Climate Risk Index,2021.
About the Index
- Data Sources: The index is prepared based on the data from the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE11. The data is identified as one of the most reliable and complete databases worldwide, on this matter. Other than that, It also uses Socio-Economic data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Functions: It analyses quantified impacts of extreme weather events. This analysis is presented both in terms of fatalities and economic losses, due to extreme weather events.
Key Findings of the report for India:
- India ranked at 7th Position in Climate Risk Index 2021. It means India is the 7th worst-hit country by extreme weathers. In 2020, India ranked 5th on the index.
- Monsoon in India: In 2019, the monsoon continued for a month longer than normal in India. 110% of the long-period average was recorded, between June to September 2019.
- Flooding caused by heavy rain was responsible for 1,800 deaths across 14 states. It led to the displacement of 1.8 million people.
- Cyclones: There were 8 tropical cyclones in India. 6 of them intensified to become “very severe”. ‘Extremely Severe’ Cyclone Fani affected 28 million people killing 90 people in India and Bangladesh causing economic loss to the tune of US$8.1 billion.
Other Key Findings:
- As per the report by German Watch, there were 11,000 extreme weather events globally between 2000 and 2019. Due to these events, over 4,75,000 people lost their lives and economic losses were around the US $2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
- Top 3 countries: Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Bahamas were respectively the top three countries, most affected in 2019.
- Top 3 Countries most affected in the past 20 years: Between 2000-2019, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries most affected by the impacts of such weather events.
Global Risk Report, 2021
Why in News?
The World Economic Forum(WEF) has released the 16th edition of the Global Risk Report, 2021.
Report findings are based on the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS). GRPS was undertaken by more than 650 members of leadership communities of WEF (World Economic Forum).
Aim: To highlight the risks and consequences of widening inequalities and increasing societal fragmentation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021 and over the next decade.
- Top Risk by Impact: The risk posed by infectious diseases has been ranked as no. 1 on the list of risks, while in 2020 was listed at 10th place.
- Impact of Covid-19: The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is huge. It threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality. It will also damage social cohesion and global cooperation.
- Climate concerns: Despite the impact of COVID-19, climate-related matters make up the bulk of this year’s risk list. The report has described these threats as an existential threat to humanity.
- Widening digital gaps: Digitalization which was accelerated by the pandemic is widening the digital gap between individuals and across countries. Thereby it is aggravating existing inequalities, polarization, and regulatory uncertainties.
- Intensifying pressures on businesses: Businesses under increasing pressures from inward-looking national agendas, greater market concentration, and popular scrutiny and volatility.
Recommendations: According to the report, response to COVID-19 offers four governance opportunities to strengthen the overall resilience of countries, businesses, and the international community:
- Formulating analytical frameworks that take a holistic and systems-based view of risk impacts.
- Investing in high-profile risk champions to encourage national leadership and international cooperation.
- Improving risk communications and combating misinformation.
- Exploring new forms of public-private partnership on risk preparedness.
India bore maximum brunt of extreme weather events in 2020: Report
Source: The New Indian Express
News: An International Report titled “Counting the cost 2020: A year of climate breakdown” has been released by Christian aid, a relief and humanitarian agency based in London.
- The report listed 15 most destructive climate disasters of 2020 that cumulatively had an expenditure tag of around $150 billion calculated only on insured losses.
Key Takeaways from the report:
Source: New Indian Express
- Cyclone Amphan which affected countries in the Bay of Bengal and caused maximum damage within coastal districts of West Bengal of India displaced 4.9 million people accounting for the biggest displacement due to an extreme weather event anywhere in the world in 2020.
- Economic Impact: The economic impact of the Cyclone Amphan was fourth in global climate related disaster list following the United States and Caribbean hurricanes, China floods and the United States fires on the west coast.
- Floods in India: The floods in India were the fifth most expensive extreme weather event in the world costing the country $10 billion.
- More importantly, as many as 2,067 lives were lost during the June-October floods, the highest number of fatalities due to climate change-induced weather events this year.
In India, over 75% districts hotspots of extreme weather events, finds study
News: Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has released a report titled “Preparing India for Extreme Climate Events”.This is the first time that extreme weather event hotspots in the country have been mapped.
- Hotspots: Over 75% of districts in India are hotspots of extreme climate events such as cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves and cold waves.
- Extreme Climate Events: The frequency, intensity, and unpredictability of extreme events have risen in recent decades.While India witnessed 250 extreme climate events in 35 years between 1970 and 2005, it recorded 310 such weather events in only 15 years since then.
- Cyclones: After 2005, the yearly average number of districts affected by cyclones tripled and the cyclone frequency-doubled.
- Floods: The decade 2000-2009 showed a spike in extreme flood events and in associated flood events which affected almost 473 districts.
- Droughts: The yearly average of drought-affected districts increased 13 times after 2005.Until 2005, the number of districts affected by drought was six, but after 2005 this figure rose to 79.
- Microclimatic zones shifting: These are areas where the weather is different from surrounding areas.The study has found that they are shifting across various districts of India.
- Reasons: Some reasons behind this shift in microclimatic zones is change in land-use patterns, disappearing wetlands and natural ecosystems by encroachment and urban heat islands that trap heat locally.
- Develop a Climate Risk Atlas to map critical vulnerabilities such as coasts, urban heat stress, water stress, and biodiversity collapse
- Develop an Integrated Emergency Surveillance System to facilitate a systematic and sustained response to emergencies
- Mainstream risk assessment at all levels, including localised, regional, sectoral, cross-sectoral, macro and micro-climatic level
- Enhance adaptive and resilience capacity to climate-proof lives, livelihoods and investments
- Increase the participatory engagement of all stakeholders in the risk assessment process
- Integrate risk assessment into local, sub-national, and national level plans.
Hazardous ideas for Himalayas
Context: China’s major hydropower project as a part of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), on the Yarlung Zangbo River, in Mêdog County in Tibet.
More on news:
- The hydropower generation station is expected to provide 300 billion kWh of electricity annually. The Chinese authorities say the project will help the country realise its goal of reaching a carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
- Indian counterparts were quick to restate their plans to dam the Himalayas on this side of the border. India is reportedly considering a 10-GW hydropower project in an eastern State.
What are the various misadventures that can happen due to the building of hydropower dams?
- Unavailability of dams: Both countries ignore how unviable such ‘super’ dams projects are, given that they are being planned in an area that is geologically unstable.
- Competing dams: Over the past 20 years, both China and India have been competing with each other to build hydroelectric dams in this ecologically fragile and seismically vulnerable area.
- There are two hydropower projects in the works in Arunachal Pradesh on the tributaries of the Brahmaputra: the 600 MW Kameng project on the Bichom and Tenga Rivers and the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectricity Project.
- China has already completed 11 out of 55 projects that are planned for the Tibetan region.
- Overestimating economic potential: In executing these hydroelectric projects, the two countries have overestimated their economic potential and grossly underestimated the earthquake vulnerability of the region.
- Earthquakes in the region: High seismic zones coincide with areas of high population concentration in the Himalayan region where landslides and glacial lake outburst floods are common.
- About 15% of the great earthquakes of the 20th century occurred in the Himalayan region. The northeast Himalayan bend has experienced several large earthquakes of magnitude 7 and above in the last 100 years, more than the share from other parts of the Himalayas.
- The 2015 Gorkha earthquake of magnitude 7.8 in central Nepal resulted in huge losses in the hydropower sector. Nepal lost about 20% of its hydropower capacity consequent to the earthquake.
- Landslides: The main mechanisms that contributed to the vulnerability of hydropower projects were found to be landslides, which depend on the intensity of seismic ground shaking and slope gradients.
- Heavy siltation from giant landslides expected in the project sites will severely reduce the water-holding capacity and life expectancy of such dams.
- Even without earthquakes, the steep slopes made of soft rocks are bound to slide due to deforestation and road-building.
What can be done?
- Nature reserve: In recent years, the Himalayas have seen the highest rate of deforestation and land use changes. The upper Himalayas should be converted into a nature reserve by an international agreement.
- Himalayan river commission: The possibility of a Himalayan River Commission involving all the headwater and downstream countries needs to be explored.
- India and China, the major players in the region, would be well advised to disengage from military adventurism and seek ways of transforming this ‘roof of the world’ into a natural reserve for the sake of humanity. Carbon neutrality should not be at the expense of the environment.
Crucial expertise of CAPFs
Context: The diverse experience of security forces has helped greatly in combating COVID-19.
Discuss the role of CAPFs during the pandemic?
- Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) carry out the task of overcoming the disaster, by not only carrying out rescue and relief operations, but also by moderating the pains and problems arising out of the disaster.
- CAPFs comprise the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Assam Rifles and the ITBP.
- Role played by the CAPFs:
- Setting up Quarantine centres: Even before covid-19, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had already set up its 600-bed quarantine centre in Chawla on the outskirts of New Delhi.
- Quarantine assistance: Out of the 324 Indian passengers in the first batch that arrived in New Delhi from China’s Wuhan, 103 were quarantined at the ITBP Centre.
- Coordinated response: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had roped in specialists from the Safdarjung Hospital to coordinate with ITBP officials.
- Similarly, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had directed the CAPFs to establish 5,400-bedded quarantine centres with 75 isolation wards, spread over 37 centres across the country.
- Testing and Training: Immigration officials entrusted with conducting COVID-19 tests of the passengers arriving in New Delhi were trained by the NDRF.
- The NDRF has trained over 30,000 personnel in disaster management across the country.
- Role of Disaster Response Forces: The NDRF has been carrying out rescue and relief operations, and is also training the State Disaster Response Forces personnel in all States.
- Relief work: A sum of ₹10 crores was sanctioned for the CRPF by the MHA to carry out relief work for those displaced in the aftermath of the lockdown.
- Expertise and SOPs: The expertise acquired by ITBP personnel and the Standard Operating Procedure prepared by the ITBP came handy for the States and other police forces in establishing their own quarantine centres and COVID-19 hospitals.
- For instance, a 10,000-bed quarantine centre was established in Chhatarpur in New Delhi by the ITBP, where over 10,000 patients have been treated till now, according to ITBP spokesperson.
What steps can be taken?
- There is a need to expand the strength of trained personnel. Personnel can be deployed at quarantines centres after short term courses.
- A proposal mooted by NITI Aayog last year, to conduct a bridge course for dentists to solidify them eligible for the MBBS degree, could be revived, and such doctors could be on stand-by to help in such emergency crises.
It is these CAPF personnel who give an impression of existence of government administration even in the remotest corners of the country. Their versatile experience can be utilised to the nation’s advantage.