26 July 2005
26 Dec 2004
29 Oct 1999
& Bihar 2004
26 Dec 2004
A f e w d i s a s t e r s i n
4. MAIN DROUGHTS in INDIA
• Drought of 1900, killing 1.25 million people.
• Drought of 1942, killing 1.5 million people.
• Drought of 1943, in Easter part of Bengal (now part of
Bangladesh) killing 1.9 million people.
• Drought of 1965, killing 1.5 million and affecting 100 million
• Drought of 1972, affecting 200 million people.
• Drought of June 1982, affecting 100 million people.
• Drought of May 1987, affecting 300 million people.
• Drought of April 2000, affecting 50 million people.
• Drought of July 2002, affecting 310 million people.
5. MAIN FAMINES in INDIA
• In the year 650, famine throughout India.
• 1022, and 1033, great famines, entire provinces were depopulated.
• 1344-1345, great famine.
• 1396-1407, the Durga Devi famine.
• 1630-1631, there was a famine in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
• 1630-1632, Deccan famine in India killed 2 million (Note: There was a
corresponding famine in northwestern China, eventually causing the Ming
dynasty to collapse in 1644).
• 1661, famine, when not a drop of rain fell for two years.
• 1702-1704, 2 million died of famine in Deccan.
• Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 covered Bihar, Northern and Central Bengal
and estimated to have resulted in the death of about 10 million people, which
was one-third of the population.
• The Chalisa famine of 1783-1784 was severe and covered present-day Uttar
Pradesh, Delhi region, Rajputana (present day Rajasthan), eastern Punjab
region and Kashmir areas. It is estimated that 11 million people died and large
areas were depopulated.
• 1788-1792, another 11 million people may have died in the Doji bara famine or
Skull famine in Hyderabad State, Southern Maratha country, Gujarat and
6. • 1800-1825, 1 million Indians died of famine.
• The Agra famine was in 1837-1838, killing 800,000 people.
• 1850-1875, 2.5 million died in Orissa famine, mostly in 1866.
• The Rajputana famine of 1868-1870 was blamed for death of 1.5 million people.
• Bihar famine of 1873-1874 was responded by generous relief effort by import of
rice from Burma (now Myanmar) avoiding deaths.
• The Great Famine of 1876-1878, also known as South India Famine, spread
from Southern India to Central and Northern parts of India. It covered an area of
670,000 square kilometers and affected 58.5 million people. In the aftermath of
the famine about 5.5 million people died of starvation.
• Indian famine of 1896-1897 covered almost whole of India and resulted in the
death of about 8 million people. The Indian famine of 1896-1897 was followed in
quick succession by the Indian famine of 1899-1900 estimated to have caused
death of 1.25 million to 10 million people.
• India experienced the second Bengal famine of 1943. Some estimates of death
put the figure of over 3 million people died.
• In 1965, there was nationwide, except in south, famine killing 1.5 million people.
• In 1966, there was a 'near miss' in Bihar. The USA allocated 900,000 tons of
grain to fight the famine.
• A further 'near miss' food crisis occurred due to drought in Maharashtra in 1970-
7. MAJOR EARTHQUAKES
• There was a earthquake in 1618 in Mumbai in which 2,000 people
• The loss of lives is estimated to be 300,000 in the Bengal
earthquake of 1737 (that time Bangladesh was part of Bengal).
• The January 16, 1819 Kutch earthquake was of 8.0 on the Richer
scale (XI intensity on Modified Mercalli scale) razed to the ground
chief towns of Tera, Kathara and Mothala.
• An area of 250,000 square miles was affected by January 10, 1869
earthquake of 7.5 Richer scale in Assam.
• In the neighboring Shillong there was wide spread destruction when
8.7 Richer scale and XII Modified Mercalli scale earthquake struck
on June 12, 1897.
• Kanga, in Himachal Pradesh had an 8.0 on Richer scale earthquake
on April 4, 1905, killing 20,000 people.
8. • In Bihar, India (near the Nepal border) there was 8.3 Richer scale and XI
Modified Mercalli intensity earthquake in 1934 in which 6,000 people were killed.
• In the following year, at Quetta (now part of Pakistan), there was an earthquake
of 7.5 and IX Modified Mercalli intensity, killing 25,000 people.
• In the year 1941, in the Andaman Islands there was 8.1 on the Richer scale (X
on Modified Mercalli scale) earthquake causing very heavy damage. It is
contemplated that survivors passed on the earthquake survival knowledge by
oral tradition, which saved many local inhabitants in the 2004 Indian Ocean
• Assam faced yet another huge earthquake of 8.6 Richer / XII Modified Mercalli
Scale in 1950 killing 1500 people.
• On August 21, 1988, Assam, once again, had an earthquake. This time it was
7.2 on Richer scale (IX Modified Mercalli scale intensity) killing people. Twenty
million people were affected from this earthquake, which is the 2nd largest
number of people affected by any earthquake.
• Anjur in Gujarat had a 7.0 Richer or XII Modified Mercalli intensity
earthquake in 1956 killing hundreds of people.
9. • The Latur, Marthawada region of the Maharashtra state, had a 6.4 on the
Richter Scale earthquake struck. Approximately 7,928 people died and another
30,000 were injured.
• The 2001 Gujarat earthquake struck India. It was 7.6 to 8.1 Richer scale
earthquake, which was felt widely in India and Pakistan. There were 6.3 million
people affected, which is the third largest number of people affected by any
earthquake in the world.
• The December 26, 2004 earthquake of magnitude 9.3 on the Richter scale
generated tsunami that affected nearly 2,260 kilometers of the mainland
coastline of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry, as well as
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands generated tsunami that affected nearly 2,260
kilometers of the mainland coastline of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and
Pondicherry, as well as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which affected more
than 2.79 million people.
• On October 8, 2005 there was an earthquake of 7.6 richer scale intensity near
the Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan killing 79,000 people in Pakistan; 1,309 in
Kashmir of India.
10. MAJOR FLOODS
• Between 1953 to 2005, a total of 84,207 lives were lost due to the
floods in India, with maximum of 11,316 in 1977, and a minimum of 37
in 1953. The only other year that had less than 100 deaths was 1965.
• The maximum people affected were in 70 million in 1978.
• The total damage due to the floods during the 1953 to 2005 period of
half a century was Rs 977 billion, the maximum damage was Rs 88
billion in 2000.
• Heavy flood damages have occurred during the monsoon years of
1955, 1971, 1973, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1998, 2004, 2005
• There were wide spread floods in Gujarat in the beginning of July 2005
followed by the eighth heaviest ever recorded 24-hour rainfall figure of
994 mm on 26 July 2005. At least 1,000 people are feared to have
• In 2008 there were floods in many parts of India. There was diversion of
water by Nepal near the India-Nepal border which lead to the flooding
of the Koshi river in Bihar. Approximately 1,500 people died.
11. MAJOR CYCLONES
• The 1935, tropical cyclone killed 30,000 people.
• In 1942, tropical storm in Orissa and West Bengal killed 40,000
• In 1943, Rajputana tropical storm, 5,000 people were killed.
• In eastern coast of Orissa, 1971 tropical storm killed 9,658.
• In 1977 cyclone, in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala
14,204 people were killed.
• The biggest cyclone disaster is the Orissa super cyclone. It hit the
Orissa coast of India on October 29, 1999 accompanied with
155 mph. . It caused the deaths of over 10,000 people.
12. High Powered Committee set up in August 1999.
Until 2001 – Responsibility with Agriculture Ministry.
Transferred to Ministry of Home Affairs in June 2002.
National Disaster Management Authority established 28th
Inclusion of Disaster Management in the Seventh Schedule of
On 23 December, 2005, Disaster Management Act .
DEVELOPMENTS IN DISASTER
13. EVOLUTION OF STUDY OF
NATURAL DISASTERS IN INDIA
1.Colonial (1830-1947): A Phase
1989): A Phase of Indifference
3.Globalisation (1990 onwards):
A Phase of Recognition
14. Colonial (1830-1947): A Phase
• The Famine Commission laid the basis for the first famine code in 1878
after India experienced repeated famines in Bengal and different parts of
• The code outlined the role of the administrative machinery to avoid
• The Commission recommended the establishment of a separate
Department of Agriculture in 1881. Following the famine of 1876-78, a
special fund of INR 15 million known as Famine Relief and Insurance
Fund was set apart every year with effect from 1882. Post
independence, decision of Finance Commission to consign funds for
relief in natural disasters can be related to this practice introduced by the
• The British set up the first climatic observatory at Alipore near Calcutta in
15. 2. CYCLONES & FORECASTING
× Frequent cyclones have occurred in Bay of Bengal. A severe cyclone in
30 Dec 1760 took lives of 11,000 people and three big ships were
taken ashore. Another cyclonic storm hit Coringa coast in Andhra
Pradesh on Dec 1789. Many such cases of death and drowning were
reported due to cyclonic storms.
× The massive loss of 50,000 people and damage to the ships in the
cyclonic storm that hit Calcutta port in 1864 forced the British
Government to implement a scheme to develop a system of cyclonic
warnings. On recommendation of the committee, Calcutta became the
first port where a storm warning system was set up in 1875.
× By 1886, the system of early warnings of cyclones was extended to all
Indian ports. To observe, coordinate and compile the weather
observations, the Imperial Meteorological Department was inaugurated
in 1877 at Calcutta. As the capital moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911,
the headquarter of meteorology department was also moved to Delhi.
16. 3. EARTHQUAKES
• Close to 2 dozen earthquakes rocked different parts of India during colonial
rule. There was the 1819 Kutch earthquake, 1845 Assam earthquake, 1858
Cuttack earthquake, 1869 Cachar Hills earthquake, 1872 Kamrup
earthquake, 1897 Shillong earthquake, 1905 Kangra earthquake and 1934
• The geologists were seen as best equipped to study earthquakes since they
had in-depth knowledge of the subject. This lodged the science of
earthquake disasters into the folds of the Geological Survey of India which
was setup in 1836.
• The 1897 Shillong earthquake (M 8.7) was the first Indian earthquake which
was instrumentally recorded at observatories outside India. After this great
earthquake, the first seismological observatory was set up in India under the
aegis of the Indian Meteorological Department in 1898 at Alipore, Calcutta.
17. RESEARCH AND SOCIETIES
Introduction of Geology stepped into the research of earthquake.
Research in Department of Physics, Presidency College in the mechanism
of atmosphere, in thunderstorms, heavy rains, cyclones and monsoons.
Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded in Calcutta on 15 Jan 1784.
The Madras Literary Society was founded in 1812 at Madras. In 1830, it
became an Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and
Ireland, and has since been known as the Madras Literary Society and the
Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society.
A military department was created in 1786 which was a forerunner of the
then Ministry of Defence. The use of army in emergency was frequently
resorted to during colonial phase.
The first international relief organisation, the Red Cross Society also set up
an office in India in 1920.
18. • The Geological Survey of India, one of the major progenies of the colonial
era, made rapid expansion post 1960 period. It was restructured and a
number of regional offices and specialised wings were set up. The number
of geologists increased from 119 in 1951 to 1300 in 1980-81.
• A specialised division of landslides and seismotronics was set up at the
northern regional office of Geological Survey of India, Lucknow, in 1989,
which was subsequently upgraded into a Centre for Geoseismology and
Seismotectonic studies with sub-centres at regional levels.
• Photo-geological interpretation came to Geological Survey of India during
the late 1960s.
• Seismological stations grew from 4 in 1950 to 40 in 1989.
• Special cyclone warning radars were set up along the coasts.
• First flood forecasting station in 1958 on river Yamuna. A flood forecasting
and warning organisation was set up under the Central Water Commission
in 1969. 41 forecasting stations were added
1989): A Phase of Indifference
19. 1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAXITY
• While the number of ministries increased from 18 in 1947 to 50 in 2006,
India till date does not have a ministry to deal with disasters.
• Up till the 1970s, the Department of Agriculture was responsible for matters
related to floods and droughts. Since earthquakes and cyclones occur at
random, these were to be dealt with as and when they strike. However,
when the scale of death and damage is high, the Ministry of Defence,
Health and Civil Supplies, among a dozen others, were pressed to service
• The piecemeal approach reduced the value of disasters as a subject worthy
of attention. This was evident in the corridors of planning too.
20. 2. FAILURE TO PLAN
• The Planning Commission established in 1950 did not consider the issue of
anticipating and managing disasters all through 1947-89. Disasters were not
part of their seven point agenda.
• The Commission launched number of schemes under the Drought Prone
Area Development Programme in 1975.
• The Finance Commission gives additional grants and loans cope with
problems that do not fall within ambit of the Planning Commission.
• From 1952-1992, each of 10 finance commissions allocated some funds for
disaster relief. The ninth finance commission marked 8.1 billion rupees each
year to all the states for relief funds on account of natural calamities.
• The yawning gap between the requested fund and approved fund makes it
difficult to estimate the actual funds required for disaster relief.
• The question of why the country should waste millions on relief and not find
ways to mitigate disasters did not occur in the scheme of thinking and
21. 3. ABSENT: THE LEGAL WINDOW
• The Govt of India enacted nearly 1045 laws in this phase. No single
umbrella law for disasters and their management during this phase.
• Three set of laws addressing to disasters were – laws initiated for
environmental conversation, laws dealing for relief and compensation and
laws pertaining to insurance.
• Laws that concern disasters can be grouped into four:-
a) Laws that were designed to safeguard the environment like Forest
b) Laws to safeguard adverse impact of environmental activity on human
beings like Atomic Energy Act 1962, Mines Act 1957 etc,
c) Laws to uphold the intrinsic value of the environment as a source of life and
d) Laws on hazardousness like Environment Protection Act 1986.
22. • Insurance acts are group of laws that could provide buffers against the
intensity of a disaster. The first insurance company, the Oriental Insurance
Corporation, was started in Calcutta in 1818 to help widows of their
• The need for crop insurance was introduced in 1973 up till 1976. In 1979, a
scheme based on the insurance of a homogenous yield of an area was
• A comprehensive crop insurance scheme was proposed, every farmer will
have to take up a scheme for insuring the crop against natural calamities in
which the Centre and the State will disburse the premium in ratio of 90:10.
23. 4. SELL MORE THAN TELL
• The feeble devotion to disasters was evident from the covers of India
Today. Of 750 issues of India Today, only 22 considered disasters as
important enough to be on cover page.
Theme of Cover Page Number Per cent of Total
Politics 288 38
Violence 83 12
International Affairs 72 10
Society 72 10
Commerce 50 7
Sports 40 6
Disasters 22 3
Others 123 14
Total 750 100
Source: India Today
1978-2003. Out of 22
cover pages on
disasters, 7 were on
24. 5. CINEMA: AN INDIFFERENT MIRROR
• India is the largest producer of films in the World. Among the abstract
(Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema) of 1758 films, only 37 use disasters as a
frame of context. Half of these are on wars and one-fourth on famine and
drought. Theme Number Per cent of Total
War 18 49
Drought and Famine 10 27
Earthquake 2 5
Flood 2 5
Hurricane and Storms 2 5
Mining 1 3
Bridge Collapse 1 3
Fire 1 3
Total 37 100
25. Disaster Themes in Documentaries based on Audiovisuals on the
Environment (1997), WWF for Nature, India.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy 4
Floods and Drought 3
Railway Safety 2
26. 6. PERIPHERAL TO TEACHING
• Course content of board examination was checked, geography offered a
section on natural hazards, psychology listed human behaviour in the face
of natural disaster, while history contained a section on wars.
• An interest in earthquakes would involve the study of geology, geography or
civil and structural engineering; drought and famine were indirectly in a
route through atmospheric and hydrological sciences or agricultural
economics, sociology and geography.
• In school, college and university, the study of disasters was fragmented and
peripheral. In the list of 20,031 projects in Dept of Science and Technology,
only 160 projects carried a disaster in its title.
27. Low Involvement of Social Scientists in Disaster Research, 1969-
YEAR TOTAL PROJECTS ON DISASTER THEMES
1969-74 382 2
1975-81 527 4
1982-91 450 4
1991-96 299 1
1996-01 253 3
2001-03 71 0
Total 1982 14
• The following data is based on Records of the Indian Council of
Social Science Research, Delhi, 1969-2003