Professor N. Vinod Chandra Menon
Centre for Disaster Management
YASHADA (Yeshwantarao Chavan Academy of Development Administration)
Raj Bhavan Complex, Baner Road, Pune- 411007
Email: [email protected]
The disaster impact of Latur Earthquake : A general overview
The Latur earthquake was felt at 6.4 on the Richter scale at Killari in Latur district of the Marathwada region as the epicentre, at 3.56 a.m.,on the 30th September 1993. The tremour resulted in loss of lives of 7,928 persons, injury to 16,000 persons and death of over 15,800 livestock. The damage was remarkably extensive in 52 villages of Latur and Osmanabad districts, but the impact of the disaster was spread in other 2500 villages in the neighbouring 11 districts. The total property loss was estimated to be more than Rs.1100 crores.
The Disaster Response
As a part of disaster management programme the Maharashtra Emergency Earthquake Rehabilitation Project (MEERP) was launched in 1993.It was supported by the World Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as well as several bilateral donor agencies. With the purpose of recovery and mitigation of the disaster they supported the affected people by providing rescue, relief and rehabilitation.
The management policy adopted by the state government to reconstruct the disaster-affected economy is supported by a number of NGOs, private initiatives and the community. The project initiated by the state government for the purpose of rehabilitation is the largest rehabilitation package in India. The main aim of the project is to provide proper socio-economic rehabilitation of the affected people along with sustainable development as a whole.
The comprehensive strategies taken by the government include relocation of 52 severely damaged villages, reconstruction and repair of damaged houses and strengthening the undamaged houses by implementing earthquake-resistant building techniques. For relocating the severely damaged villages they have taken the help of remote sensing technique beside the consultative process side by side.
As a result of such initiatives the public utilities and infrastructure facilities are repaired and strengthened. The basic utility goods which support the primary, sustainable occupations of the poverty-stricken inhabitants of the affected area are modified and improved. For the sake of socio-economic rehabilitation special facilities are provided for the women and handicapped persons. Special training programmes are provided for the village artisans and civil engineers to make them familiar with the earthquake-resistant building designs and techniques.
Different dimensions of the response
The response for disaster management was multi-dimensional. The strategies were mainly based on three types of plans:
- Communication Network,
- State Disaster Management Plan,
- District Disaster Management Plan.
A side-wide communication network is being set up as part of the Maharashtra Emrgency Earthquake Rehabilitation Programme. This network of telecommunication and information technology consists of an Emergency Operations Centre (Central Control Room) at Mantralaya, Mumbai, a standby Control Room at the Centre for Disaster Management, YASHADA, Pune, Control Rooms at each of the six divisional headquarters, and District Control Rooms at each district collectorate. This network is connected with VSAT telecommunication facilities for data, voice and information exchange and video teleconferencing. In a second level of communication network all tahsils are linked together through a VHF Wireless Network with nodes of the District Control Room reaching each tahsil headquarters. The following maps (figure 1 & 2) indicate the spread of the VHF wireless network in the districts and the VSAT network in the state.
This telecommunication network will facilitate video-teleconferencing among the nodes for more purposive and successful monitoring and management of such disaster. VHP Network is used to link the subdivisional and taluka headquarters with the respective district headquarters. Some up-to-date amenities like wireless base stations, mobile sets and walkie-talkie units are provided to the sub-divisional officers to improvise the contact with District Control Room.
State Disaster Management Plan
Maharashtra is the first state to prepare a comprehensive State Disaster Management Plan and also undertake risk assessment and vulnerability analysis of the state. These studies address the vulnerability of various districts, talukas within these districts, and clusters of villages in these districts to earthquakes, floods and cyclones, epidemics, road accidents and fire, and chemical and industrial disasters. A separate volume on Standard Operating Procedures, details the manuals for various departments to be activated during an emergency.
In the District Control Room, the following desks are recommended to be set up for improving the capability of the district administration to respond to disasters more effectively : Operations disk, Service desk, Infrastructure desk, Health desk, Logistics desk, Agriculture desk, Communication and Information Management desk and Resources desk. Detailed instructions have been provided to the district administration about the setting up of the District Control Room and the VHF wireless network, linking all tahsil headquarters to the District Control Room.
The involvement of the NGOs and community-based organisations like Tarun Mandals, Mahila Mandals, etc., is very vital for the smooth implementation of the District Disaster Management Plans. New institutional mechanisms for community participation have been envisaged in the plans, like the setting up of the Community Emergency Response Teams, Mutual Aid and Response Groups, etc. Community participation is also sought in generating greater awareness about the nature of each disaster, the type of damage that can occur, and the stress it would generate, both at the family as well as the community level, and also the mobilisation of communities to adopt risk reduction strategies and practices, based on the coping strategies of stakeholders in similar disaster-prone contexts.
District Disaster Management Plan
The Government of Maharashtra identified one district from each of the six revenue divisions for preparing the multi-hazard response plans, with financial support from the ODA, UK. This was also supplemented with the preparation of multi-hazard response plans for the remaining 25 districts, with financial support from the UNDP, through the Centre for Disaster Management at YASHADA. These multi-hazard response plans include an exhaustive risk assessment and vulnerability analysis of the district, with reference to earthquakes, floods and cyclones, epidemics, road accidents and fire, and chemical and industrial disasters. They also contain the multi-hazard response structure, capability analysis, including an inventory of resources, and mitigation strategies, apart from a directory of personnel and institutions in the districts with their contact addresses, telephone and fax numbers. The response structure at the state level is mentioned in the figure.
Disaster Management Information System
As a part of these multi-hazard response plans, the maps of the districts with taluka-wise and village-wise details were prepared using ARCINFO, for developing a comprehensive Disaster Management Information System (DMIS) by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre(MRSAC), Nagpur. This Geographic Information System (GIS) operates as a front-end with a disaster management database, providing it flexibility to respond to user queries regarding village specific details of availability of infrastructure.
This integrated facility of multi-hazard response plans, communication network, GIS and Disaster geomorphology, geophysical data and data on climate like rainfall pattern, temperature, wind Management Information System, can enhance the level of preparedness of the district administration and also improve the capability of the district machinery to respond to disasters more effectively. The thematic data on natural resources are, like slope, soils, geology, land use, land cover, drainage network, surface reservoirs, hydro-, humidity etc. The non-spatial data consists of administrative setup, socio-economic and demographic profile of the population, water resources, irrigation, health facilities, educational infrastructure, animal husbandry, agriculture, power, infrastructure, industry, fisheries, public distribution system, tourism, etc. All the villages in the state have been assessed for the availability of various facilities listed above and their infrastructure capabilities have been mapped and included in the database to permit querying.
All districts have identified resource gaps while undertaking an inventory of existing resources in each district, to improve the preparedness and capability of the district administration in responding more effectively to future disasters. Structural mitigation measures like strengthening of government and public buildings have already been initiated. It is proposed to set up fire brigades in strategic municipal towns where such facilities have not been available for a very long time, and where the risk assessment studies indicate that several neighbouring areas are prone to fires, based on past episodes. Non-structural mitigation measures like the modification in zoning for irrigation and building codes, earthquake-resistant construction for non-engineered buildings, etc., have also been initiated.
The construction of adequate speed breakers, caution signboards and guard-stones on highways, the setting up of Traffic-Aid posts at strategic locations, trauma care facilities in district hospitals, bypass roads, identification of accident-prone spots, improvement and strengthening of roads and bridges, etc., are also being carried out, to improve the preparedness of the district administration to respond to disasters more effectively.
A District Disaster Management Committee assists the District Collector in every districts, in reviewing the threat of various disasters, assessing the vulnerability of the district, evaluating the preparedness, and considering suggestions for improvement of the district disaster management plan.