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08 May, 2020

75 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Analysis of Motor Vehicle Act Governance
Nashik model to combat COVID-19
Israel – Palestine-Hamas Conflict International Relations
Trump says crisis ‘worse than Pearl Harbor’ International Relations
GS-III Vishakhapatnam Gas Leak Incident- Styrene gas
Indian Navy’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Environment Impact Assessment
Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)
PT Pointer Ayush Sanjivani application
Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour-Luhman 16A Human Geography
Important GS Topics Disaster Management in India
GS-II : Governance
Analysis of Motor Vehicle Act

Govt extends validity of Motor Vehicle Act related documents

Part of: GS-II- Governance and acts (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In News

Amid lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, the government has extended the validity of documents related to Motor Vehicle Act and Central Motor Vehicle Rules till June 30.
The validity has been extended for the documents whose validity expires between February 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

New MOTOR vehicle act analysis

India sees more than five lakh road accidents a year leading to 1.5 lakh deaths. According to the Union Transport Minister, this could come down by half if the provisions of this Bill are implemented. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is based on the recommendations of the Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of States constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to address the issue of road safety and to improve the access of the citizens while dealing with transport departments.

The amendments in the Bill mainly focus on issues relating to improving road safety, citizens’ facilitation while dealing with the transport department, strengthening rural transport, last mile connectivity and public transport, automation and computerization and enabling online services.

Key Features of the bill

  • Road safety: Bill proposes to increase penalties to act as a deterrent against traffic violations.
  • Compensation for road accident victims: Cashless treatment of road accident victims during the golden hour (first 1 hour after accident). The minimum compensation for death or grievous injury due to hit and run has been moved up substantially to ?2 lakh and ?50,000, respectively.
  • Road Safety Board: The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification. The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
  • Protection of Good Samaritan: To help road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the Bill. They will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Fund: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
  • Third-party insurance terms are friendlier with no cap on liability of insurers and quicker claims processing.
  • To reduce scope for manipulation and corruption in transport departments, vehicle fitness tests will be automated and driving tests, computerised. Also, the driver training process for commercial driving will be strengthened and more training schools set up.
  • Recall of vehicles: The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
  • National Transportation Policy: The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with state governments.
  • Taxi aggregators: The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). These aggregators will be issued licenses by state. Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Issues and challenges

  • There will be implementation challenges at all-India level. Road transport being a subject on the Concurrent List, State governments are also free to make their own laws and rules. Some states feel that the amendment infringes upon the rights of the states.
  • For effective monitoring of traffic violations and accidents and ensuring that the perpetrators don’t go scot-free, electronic surveillance is essential that needs installation of CCTVs, Speed guns, and other equipments.This could involve substantial investment, and it is not clear who will bear the cost.
  • Laxity of vehicle-manufacturers in implementing safety features is also a concern as automobile is a booming industry.
  • Unfortunately, the states who are topping the list of accidents are avoiding the implementation. “Chalta Hai” attitude prevails.
  • With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear.
  • History of corruption may ripe up to the highest. State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines. Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.
  • While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified. It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.
  • States also have concerns about their powers being curtailed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill.

 

Road safety Initiatives in India

  • Ministry of Road Transport and highways took several steps in the past to improve road safety:
    • National Road Safety Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information database, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws etc.
    • National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.
    • dashboard for road accident data, through which people can access related data and other information both state-wise and the national averages, has been introduced.
    • Comic books Swachha Safar and Surakshit Yatra have been been released, with an aim to create awareness among children about road safety.
    • VAHAN (an ICT-based solution for vehicle registration) and SARATHI (for licencing) app to curb malpractices in issuing licences and vehicle registration.
    • BhararMala and Setu Bharatam programme to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.
  • Tamil Nadu model of integrated data-driven road safety initiatives: the Supreme Court-appointed three-member road safety committee led by Justice (retd) KS Radhakrishnan praised Tamil Nadu’s efforts in reducing fatalities in road accidents. NCRB data reveals that road accident deaths in TN came down in 2018 by 24.39%, the biggest decrease recorded in the country.

Way forward

Vehicle manufacturers should update their technologies and adopt the best global practices regarding vehicles’ and passengers’ safety. Simultaneously, the rise of Internet of Things-enabled, connected cars in India, which international auto majors are heavily investing in currently, can give a digital edge to road safety. With an array of embedded sensors informing drivers of other on-road cars, onboard analytics can give them real-time driving suggestions to avoid collisions.

The unprecedented pace of construction and infrastructure improvement is one more link in the journey to safer roads. Strict and effective enforcement of the amended rules in Motor Vehicle Act would surely help in curbing road-accident related deaths in India. The central and state governments should work out proper plans to effectively implement the rules. State governments should ensure transparency and provide a hassle-free experience for citizens at the Regional Transport Offices.

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GS-II :
Nashik model to combat COVID-19

Nashik model to combat COVID-19

Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) has taken-up numerous initiatives to fight COVID-19. Some of the key initiatives at the city level include:

1.  Cleanliness/ Sanitization of Public Places: Spraying of Sodium Hypochlorite

2. Separate vehicles for Waste collection & Disposal from Quarantined households.

3. Provision of: Provision of safety

4. Provision of Facility of Institutional Quarantine wards

5. Frontline Testing by Doctors & Health Workers in Sealed Zone

6. Smartphone App ‘MahaKavach’:

 

The MahaKavach is a real-time digital contact tracing mobile application which enables citizens to contribute and assist the health authorities in contact tracing, geo-fencing and tracking of quarantined COVID-19 Patients. Selfie attendance feature has been also added in application to get virtual attendance. This app is to be used by Individuals as directed by their doctor or medical worker. The app also encourages to update the quarantine status for greater adherence. This update increases reliability of home location data. It also ensures a breach update is sent only once.

 

 

7. Smartphone App “Nashik Bazzar”: Nashik Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra Chambers of Commerce Industry & Agriculture (MCCIA), jointly developed "Nashik Bazzar" app to benefit city residents to order online the daily necessary essentials such as Grocery, Tiffin, Meals, Medical Help, Fruits, Grains, Medicine, Dairy, Snacks, Vegetable etc. & get free home delivery.

8. Smartphone App ‘NMC COVID-19’: It provides 11 Services to the citizens. Services such as Covid-19 informer – to inform about Corona Suspects, Provision of necessary contact numbers such as doctors, hospitals, ambulances etc.

9. Social Awareness via VMD(Variable Message Display) & PAS(Public Addressing System). Crowded locations such as Central Bus Stand, Railway Station road, Institutional areas & Junctions were covered for the installation of such smart elements.

10. Body Sanitizing Machine

11. Aerosol Box: Use of Aerosol Box & Aerosol Intubation Box in Municipal Hospital to collect swab sample & to protect medical workers such as doctors and patients while operating COVID-19 suspects.

12. Door to door COVID-19 Survey, Social awareness & check-ups for Corona virus in various regions by Nurses & ASHA Workers

13. Daily visits & Calls to quarantined patient’s residents by Nurses & ASHA Workers

14. COVID-19 Help Survey Questionnaire: Citizen Information form has been developed which will capture details of citizens regarding COVID-19 Symptoms, travel history & their location details which will help officials to identify symptomatic citizens.

15. Decentralization of Fruit & Vegetable Market

 

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GS-II : International Relations
Israel – Palestine-Hamas Conflict

Israel – Palestine-Hamas Conflict

Part of: GS-II- International Issues (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In News:

The Israeli army attacked military positions of the Islamist Hamas movement early after militants in the Palestinian enclave fired a rocket at the Jewish state,
"A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory," the army said in a statement. "In response, an IDF tank targeted three Hamas military posts in the northern Gaza Strip."
The Gaza rocket hit an open field near the border, with no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

It also followed strikes on Iranian-backed militias and their allies in Syria that killed 14, presumed to have been carried out by Israel. No Gaza group took responsibility for the rocket.

Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • The seeds of the conflict were laid in 1917 when the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed official support of Britain for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine under the Balfour Declaration. The lack of concern for the "rights of existing non-Jewish communities" i.e. the Arabs led to prolonged violence.
  • Unable to contain Arab and Jewish violence, Britain withdrew its forces from Palestine in 1948, leaving responsibility for resolving the competing claims to the newly created United Nations. The UN presented a partition plan to create independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. Most Jews in Palestine accepted the partition but most Arabs did not.
  • In 1948, the Jewish declaration of Israel's independence prompted surrounding Arab states to attack. At the end of the war, Israel controlled about 50 percent more territory than originally envisioned UN partition plan. Jordan controlled the West Bank and Jerusalem's holy sites, and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.
  • 1964: Founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
  • 1967: In Six-day Arab- Israeli war, Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai Peninsula & Gaza strip from Egypt.
  • The United Nations grants the PLO observer status in 1975 and recognizes Palestinians' right to self-determination.
  • Camp David Accords (1978): "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" brokered by U.S. set the stage for peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and a resolution to the "Palestinian problem". This however remained unfulfilled.
  • 1981: Israel effectively annexes the Golan but this is not recognized by the United States or the international community.
  • 1987: Founding of Hamas, a violent offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood seeking "to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine" through violent jihad.
  • 1987: Tensions in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza reached boiling point resulting in the First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising). It grew into a small war between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army.
  • 1988: Jordan cedes to the PLO all the country's territorial claims in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem.
  • 1993: Under the Oslo Accords Israel and the PLO agree to officially recognize each other and renounce the use of violence. The Oslo Accords also established the Palestinian Authority, which received limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
  • 2005: Israel begins a unilateral withdrawal of Jews from settlements in Gaza. However, Israel kept tight control over all border crossings (blockade).
  • 2006: Hamas scores a victory in Palestinian Authority elections. The vote leaves the Palestinian house divided between Fatah movement, represented by President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, which will control the cabinet and parliament. Efforts at cohabitation fail almost immediately.
  • 2007: Palestinian Movement Splits after few months of formation of a joint Fatah-Hamas government. Hamas militants drive Fatah from Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appoints a new government in Ramallah (West Bank), which is quickly recognized by the United States and European Union. Gaza remains under Hamas control.
  • 2012- UN upgrades Palestinian representation to that of "non-member observer state".
  • 2014- Israel responds to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank by arresting numerous Hamas members. Militants respond by firing rockets from Gaza. Clashes end in uneasy Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
  • 2014- Fatah and Hamas form a unity government, though distrust remains between the two factions.

Areas of Conflict

  • West Bank: The West Bank is sandwiched between Israel and Jordan. One of its major cities is Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine. Israel took control of it in the 1967 war and has over the years established settlements there.
  • Gaza: The Gaza Strip located between Israel and Egypt. Israel occupied the strip after 1967, but relinquished control of Gaza City and day-to-day administration in most of the territory during the Oslo peace process. In 2005, Israel unilaterally removed Jewish settlements from the territory, though it continues to control international access to it.
  • Golan Heights: The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981. Recently, the USA has officially recognized Jerusalem and Golan Heights a part of Israel.
  • Palestinian Authority- Created by the 1993 Olso Accords, it is the official governing body of the Palestinian people, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah faction. Hobbled by corruption and by political infighting, the PA has failed to become the stable negotiating partner its creators had hoped.
  • Fatah- Founded by the late Yasir Arafat in the 1950s, Fatah is the largest Palestinian political faction. Unlike Hamas, Fatah is a secular movement, has nominally recognized Israel, and has actively participated in the peace process.
  • Hamas- Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority's legislative elections. It ejected Fatah from Gaza in 2007, splitting the Palestinian movement geographically, as well.

Two-State Solution

  • The “two state solution” is based on a UN resolution of 1947 which proposed two states - one would be a state where Zionist Jews constituted a majority, the other where the Palestinian Arabs would be a majority of the population. The idea was however rejected by the Arabs.
  • For decades, it has been held by the international community as the only realistic deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why is the solution so difficult to achieve?

  • Borders: There is no consensus about precisely where to draw the line – with Israel building settlements and constructing barriers in areas like the West Bank that creates a de facto border. This makes it difficult to establish that land as part of an independent Palestine, breaking it up into non-contiguous pieces.
  • Jerusalem: Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital and consider it a center of religious worship and cultural heritage making its division difficult. In December 2017, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital and the step found support from the USA, intensifying the situation in the region.
  • Refugees: Large numbers of Palestinians who fled their homes in what is now Israel, during the preceding wars as well as their descendants believe they deserve the right to return but Israel is against it.
  • Divided Political Leadership on Both sides: The Palestinian leadership is divided - two-state solution is supported by Palestinian nationalists in West Bank but the leadership in Gaza does not even recognize Israel. Further, while successive Israeli Prime Ministers - Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu - have all accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, they have differed in terms of what it should actually comprise.

Global Stand

Nearly 83% of world countries have officially recognized Israel as a sovereign state and maintain diplomatic relations with it. However, at the same time, many countries are sympathetic to Palestine.

What do both parties want?

  • Palestine wants Israeli to halt all expansionary activities and retreat to pre-1967 borders. It wants to establish a sovereign Palestine state in West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Palestine wants Palestine refugees who lost their homes in 1948 be able to come back.
  • Israel wants it to be recognised as a Jewish state. It wants the Palestine refugees to return only to Palestine, not to Israel.

India’s Stand

  • India was one of the few countries to oppose the UN’s partition plan in November 1947, echoing its own experience during independence a few months earlier. In the decades that followed, the Indian political leadership actively supported the Palestinian cause and withheld full diplomatic relations with Israel.
  • India recognised Israel in 1950 but it is also the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian. India is also one of the first countries to recognise the statehood of Palestine in 1988.
  • In the 2014, India favored UNHRC’s resolution to probe Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza. Despite supporting probe, India abstained from voting against Israel in UNHRC IN 2015.
  • As a part of Link West Policy, India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine in 2018 to treat both the countries mutually independent and exclusive.
  • In June 2019, India voted in favor of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that objected to granting consultative status to a Palestinian non-governmental organization
  • So far India has tried to maintain the image of its historical moral supporter for Palestinian self-determination, and at the same time to engage in the military, economic, and other strategic relations with Israel.

Way Forward

The world at large needs to come together for a peaceful solution but the reluctance of the Israeli government and other involved parties have aggravated the issue more. Thus a balanced approach towards the Israel-Palestine issue would help to maintain favourable relations with Arab countries as well as Israel.

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GS-II : International Relations
Trump says crisis ‘worse than Pearl Harbor’

Trump says crisis ‘worse than Pearl Harbor’ or 9/11

Part of: GS-II- International issues (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

President Donald Trump said that fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic has hit the United States harder than Pearl Harbor in World War II or the 9/11 attacks.

“We went through the worst attack we’ve ever had on our country. This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had,” he told reporters at the White House.

The surprise Japanese attack in 1941 on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii (PT) drew the United States into World War II.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks killed about 3,000 people, mostly in the World Trade Center in New York, triggering two decades of US wars and anti-terrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

So far, more than 70,000 Americans have died in the flu-like global pandemic, while severe social distancing measures to stop the virus have forced the shutdown of much of the economy.

 

About Pearl Harbor

Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour was among the most significant moments of the World War II.
  • It signalled the official entry of the US into the hostilities, which eventually led to the dropping of nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
  • Significantly, in December 2016, Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbour.

What led up to the attack on Pearl Harbour?

  • Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, relations between the US and Japan were already worsening.
  • In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and, in 1937, it invaded China, sending alarm bells ringing in the US and other Western powers about Japan’s manifest expansionist agenda.
  • Between December 1937 and January 1938, an episode which is referred to as the “Nanking Massacre” or the “Rape of Nanking”, occurred — Japanese soldiers killed and raped Chinese civilians and combatants.
  • Japanese historians estimate that anywhere between tens of thousands and 200,000 Chinese were killed.
  • The US was against Japan’s aggression in China, and imposed economic sanctions and trade embargoes after its invasion.

Immediate causes

  • Japan was reliant on imports for oil and other natural resources — this was one of the reasons why it invaded China and later French Indo-China (present-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia).
  • The intention was to take control of the major Chinese ports to have access to resources such as iron, rubber, tin, and most importantly, oil.
  • In July 1941, the US ceased exporting oil to Japan.
  • Negotiations between the two countries ended with the “Hull Note”, the final proposal delivered to Japan by the US. Essentially, the US wanted Japan to withdraw from China without any conditions.
  • Ultimately, the negotiations did not lead to any concrete results, following which Japan set its task for Pearl Harbour in the last week of November 1941.
  • Japan considered the attack to be a preventive measure against the US interfering with Japan’s plans to carry out military operations in some parts of Southeast Asia.

What happened at Pearl Harbour?

  • About 7.55 am on December 7, 1941, about 180 aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
  • The bombing killed over 2,300 Americans and destroyed the battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma.
  • Roughly 160 aircraft were destroyed, and 150 were damaged.

Impact on the US

  • In the short term, the American naval presence in the Pacific was severely weakened.
  • However, the Japanese had largely ignored the harbour’s infrastructure, and many of the damaged ships were repaired on-site and returned to duty.
  • American opinion immediately shifted to favouring war with Japan, a course that would conclude with Japan’s unconditional surrender less than four years later.
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GS-III :
Vishakhapatnam Gas Leak Incident- Styrene gas

PM reviews Vishakhapatnam Gas Leak Incident

Context

The incident of Styrene gas leakage occurred in a chemical plant in the early hours today at 3 am in RR Venkatapuram village, Gopalapatnam Mandal in Visakhpatnam District.

Early morning leakage from LG Polymers, which manufactures general purpose polystyrene, high impact polystyrene and coloured polystyrene caused panic in several areas of the city.

It was decided that a team from CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) unit of NDRF from Pune,along with an expert team of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur would be rushed to Vishakhapatnam immediately to support the State Government in the management of the crisis on the ground, and also to take measures for resolving the short term as also long term medical impact of the leak.

Styrene gas

Styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene, and phenylethene, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2. This derivative of benzene is a colorless oily liquid although aged samples can appear yellowish. The compound evaporates easily and has a sweet smell, although high concentrations have a less pleasant odor. Styrene is the precursor to polystyrene and several copolymers.

Styrene, the chemical involved in the disaster-struck plant that produces polystyrene products, is included in the schedule of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989.

Styrene gas is a poisonous, inflammable gas used in plastic engineering industry, and could have triggered a series of explosions.

Styrene gas, which is toxic in nature, may cause irritation to the skin, eyes and causes respiratory problems and other medical conditions.

The Styrene gas can cause nausea and dizziness when inhaled, and experts say that person exposed to the gas should be given medical treatment immediately.

The Styrene gas affects the central nervous system, throat, skin, eyes and some other parts of the body.

Styrene is used to make insulation, pipes, automobile parts, printing cartridges and copy machine toner, food containers, packaging material, carpet backing, luggage, shoes, toys, floor waxes and polishes.

Impact and Symptoms

The exposure of styrene is through ingestion, inhalation or contact (skin). Common symptoms of styrene exposure include irritation to eyes, nose and skin; gastrointestinal and respiratory effects.

Its long term exposure may cause central nervous system and kidney related problems, depression, headache etc. The department of health and human services USA has listed styrene as reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen.

Detection of Gas in Air

For ascertaining the level of styrene in a contaminated air, samples of air may be taken from different places of suspected exposure and be subjected to detailed analysis using a special styrene detection device. Gas chromatography may also be used for its qualitative and quantitative estimation

Hazards related to Environment

When released into the soil or water, styrene is expected to readily biodegrade and evaporate quickly. While released into the air, styrene is expected to be readily degraded by reaction with photo-chemically produced hydroxyl radicals and is expected to have a half-life of less than 1 day.

 

 

 

 

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GS-III :
Indian Navy’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Indian Navy’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed and produced by Indian Navy has been tested by INMAS (Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences) Delhi, a DRDO organization tasked with the testing and certification of PPE and is certified to be mass produced and used in clinical COVID situations.

Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is of serious concern as it imperils the well-being and availability of the Healthcare Workforce, apart from adversely impacting their security and morale.

The PPE is required to meet stringent criteria on testing and the benchmarks of the same are set by  the ICMR and the MoHFW.

A team formed by the Innovation Cell, Institute of Naval Medicine, Mumbai and the Naval Dockyard Mumbai collaborated to design and produce PPE.

About Indian Navy’s PPE

The PPE passed with 6/6 Synthetic blood penetration resistance test pressure. (GoI mandates minimum 3/6 and above level as per ISO 16603 standard) and is thus certified to be mass produced and used in clinical COVID situations.

The outstanding features of the PPE are its simple, innovative and cost-effective design; thus it can be made by basic gown manufacturing facilities.

The PPE is noteworthy for the innovative choice of fabric used, which gives the PPE its 'breathability' and penetration resistance rendering it both comfortable and safe for the user.

The cost for this PPE is significantly lower than those commercially available.

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GS-III :
Environment Impact Assessment

Environment Impact Assessment Notification(EIA), 2020 extended till 30th June.

Context

The Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 published the draft notification namely, Environment Impact Assessment Notification extending the EIA assessment by 2 months till 30th June due to COVID-19 pandemic.

About Environmental Impact Assessment

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
  • UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.
  • Environment Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process.

The EIA Process

 

Screening: The project plan is screened for scale of investment, location and type of development and if the project needs statutory clearance.

Scoping: The project’s potential impacts, zone of impacts, mitigation possibilities and need for monitoring.

Collection of baseline data: Baseline data is the environmental status of study area.

Impact prediction: Positive and negative, reversible and irreversible and temporary and permanent impacts need to be predicted which presupposes a good understanding of the project by the assessment agency.

Mitigation measures and EIA report: The EIA report should include the actions and steps for preventing, minimizing or by passing the impacts or else the level of compensation for probable environmental damage or loss.

Public hearing: On completion of the EIA report, public and environmental groups living close to project site may be informed and consulted.

Decision making: Impact Assessment Authority along with the experts consult the project-in-charge along with consultant to take the final decision, keeping in mind EIA and EMP (Environment Management Plan).

Monitoring and implementation of environmental management plan: The various phases of implementation of the project are monitored.

Assessment of Alternatives, Delineation of Mitigation Measures and Environmental Impact Assessment Report: For every project, possible alternatives should be identified, and environmental attributes compared. Alternatives should cover both project location and process technologies.

Once alternatives have been reviewed, a mitigation plan should be drawn up for the selected option and is supplemented with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide the proponent towards environmental improvements.

Risk assessment: Inventory analysis and hazard probability and index also form part of EIA procedures.

Salient Features of 2006 Amendments to EIA Notification

Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralized the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories, i.e., Category A (national level appraisal) and Category B (state level appraisal).

Category A projects are appraised at national level by Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and Category B projects are apprised at state level.

State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) are constituted to provide clearance to Category B process.

After 2006 Amendment the EIA cycle comprises of four stages:

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping
  3. Public hearing
  4. Appraisal

Category A projects require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.

Category B projects undergoes screening process and they are classified into two types.

  • Category B1 projects (Mandatorily requires EIA).
  • Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).

Thus, Category A projects and Category B, projects undergo the complete EIA process whereas Category B2 projects are excluded from complete EIA process.

Stakeholders in the EIA Process

  • Those who propose the project
  • The environmental consultant who prepare EIA on behalf of project proponent
  • Pollution Control Board (State or National)
  • Public has the right to express their opinion
  • The Impact Assessment Agency
  • Regional centre of the MoEFCC
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GS-III :
Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)

Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on Covid-19. The programme is a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health.

  • The programme is aimed at minimizing risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities, promoting public understanding of common minimum science for community care and health safety measures like
    • personal sanitation and hygiene,
    • physical distancing,
    • maintaining desired collective behaviour and so on.
  • It aims to reduce the fear of risks and build confidence with necessary understanding for adopting sustainable healthy lifestyles and nurturing scientific culture among masses and societies.
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GS-III :
Ayush Sanjivani application

Ayush Sanjivani application

Context

Health Minister Sh. Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for AYUSH  Sh. Shripad Yesso Naik jointly launched clinical research studies on Ayurveda interventions as an add-on to standard care to COVID 19 situation and Ayush Sanjivani application today at New Delhi.

About Ayush Sanjivani app

The Ministry of AYUSH and MEITY has developed Ayush Sanjivani mobile app, for generating data of large population with a target of 5 million people.

The core expected outcomes includes to generate data on acceptance and usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of COVID 19.

 

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GS-I : Human Geography
Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour-Luhman 16A

Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour-Luhman 16A

A group of international astrophysicists have identified cloud bands on the surface of Luhman 16A, one of a pair of binary brown dwarfs in the Vela constellation.

They have used an idea put forth Indian astrophysicist Sujan Sengupta, who is at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, that the light emitted by a cloudy brown dwarf, or reflected off an extrasolar planet, will be polarised.

He suggested that a polarimetric technique could serve as a potential tool to probe the environment of these objects.

Subsequently, many astronomers detected polarisation of brown dwarfs. But what is special in the newest study of Luhman 16 is that the researchers have found the actual structure of the clouds — that they form bands over one of the pair (Luhman 16A) of brown dwarfs.

Luhman 16A

Luhman 16 is a binary star system, the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star.

At a distance of about 6.5 light years from the Sun, this pair of brown dwarfs referred to as Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B orbit each other, casting a dim light.

Brown Dwarfs

Brown dwarfs are objects which have a size between that of a giant planet like Jupiter and that of a small star. In fact, most astronomers would classify any object with between 15 times the mass of Jupiter and 75 times the mass of Jupiter to be a brown dwarf.

Given that range of masses, the object would not have been able to sustain the fusion of hydrogen like a regular star; thus, many scientists have dubbed brown dwarfs as "failed stars".

Starting in 1995, astronomers have been able to detect a few nearby brown dwarfs. All of the brown dwarfs discovered so far are parts of a binary system. A binary system is one in which two stars orbit around one another (just like the planets of our solar system orbit our star, the Sun).

It is believed that some of the more massive brown dwarfs fuse deuterium or lithium and glow faintly.

The faintness of the glow proved to be providential in finding the cloud bands. Unlike a star whose brightness would be too high, or an extrasolar planet orbiting a star, where the extra light from its star would have to be cut off to make the measurement, the light of the brown dwarfs was just right.

The group, by using the Very Large Telescope at European Southern Observatory, Chile, found that Luhman 16A had band-like clouds in its atmosphere, whereas the same was not true of Luhman 16B.

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GS-III :
Disaster Management in India

Disaster Management in India

Part of: GS-III- Disaster Management (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Disruption on a massive scale, either natural or man-made, occurring in short or long periods of time is termed as Disaster. Disaster management in India has been an important point of discussion owing to frequent natural disasters ranging from earthquakes, floods, drought etc.

What is a Disaster?

A disaster is defined as a disruption on a massive scale, either natural or man-made, occurring in short or long periods of time. Disasters can lead to human, material, economic or environmental hardships, which can be beyond the bearable capacity of the affected society. As per statistics, India as a whole is vulnerable to 30 different types of disasters that will affect the economic, social and human development potential to such an extent that it will have long-term effects on productivity and macro-economic performance.

Disasters can be classified into the following categories:

  • Water and Climate Disaster: Flood, hail storms, cloudburst, cyclones, heat waves, cold waves, droughts, hurricanes.
  • Geological Disaster: Landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes
  • Biological Disaster: Viral epidemics, pest attacks, cattle epidemic and locust plagues
  • Industrial Disaster: Chemical and industrial accidents, mine shaft fires, oil spills,
  • Nuclear Disasters: Nuclear core meltdowns, radiation poisoning
  • Man-made disasters: Urban and forest fires, oil spill, the collapse of huge building structures

What is Disaster Management?

Per the Disaster Management Act of 2005 defines Disaster Management as an integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary for-

  1. Prevention of threat of any disaster
  2. Reduction of risk of any disaster or its consequences
  3. Readiness to deal with any disaster
  4. Promptness in dealing with a disaster
  5. Assessing the severity of the effects of any disaster
  6. Rescue and relief
  7. Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

Agencies involved in Disaster Management

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):- The National Disaster Management Authority, or the NDMA, is an apex body for disaster management, headed by the Prime Minister of India. It is responsible for the supervision, direction and control of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • National Executive Committee (NEC):- The NEC is composed of high profile ministerial members from the government of India that include the Union Home Secretary as Chairperson, and the Secretaries to the Government of India (GoI)like Ministries/Departments of Agriculture, Atomic Energy, Defence, Drinking Water Supply, Environment and Forests etc. The NEC prepares the National Plan for Disaster Management as per the National Policy on Disaster Management.
  • State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA):- The Chief Minister of the respective state is the head of the SDMA.The State Government has a State Executive Committee (SEC) which assists the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) on Disaster Management.
  • District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA):- The DDMA is headed by the District Collector, Deputy Commissioner or District Magistrate depending on the situation, with the elected representatives of the local authority as the Co-Chairperson. The DDMA ensures that the guidelines framed by the NDMA and the SDMA are followed by all the departments of the State Government at the District level and the local authorities in the District.
  • Local Authorities:- Local authorities would include Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), Municipalities, District and Cantonment 11 Institutional and Legal Arrangements Boards, and Town Planning Authorities which control and manage civic services.

Causes for Occurrence of Disaster

  • Environmental degradation: Removal of trees and forest cover from a watershed area have caused, soil erosion, expansion of flood plain area in upper and middle course of rivers and groundwater depletion.
  • Developmental process: Exploitation of land use, development of infrastructure, rapid urbanization and technological development have caused increasing pressure over the natural resources.
  • Political issues: War, nuclear power aspirations, fight between countries to become super power and conquering land, sea and skies. These have resulted into wide range of disaster events such as Hiroshima nuclear explosion, Syrian civil war, growing militarisation of oceans and outer space.
  • Industrialization: This has resulted into warming of earth and frequency of extreme weather events has also increased.

Impacts of Disaster

  • Disaster impacts individuals physically (through loss of life, injury, health, disability) as well as psychologically.
  • Disaster results in huge economic loss due to destruction of property, human settlements and infrastructure etc.
  • Disaster can alter the natural environment, loss of habitat to many plants and animals and cause ecological stress that can result in biodiversity loss.
  • After natural disasters, food and other natural resources like water often becomes scarce resulting into food and water scarcity.
  • The disaster results in displacement of people, and displaced population often face several challenges in new settlements, in this process poorer becomes more poor.
  • Disaster increases the level of vulnerability and hence multiply the effects of disaster.

Vulnerability Profile of India

  • India is vulnerable, in varying degrees, to a large number of disasters. Around 59% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity.
  • About 12% (over 40 million hectares) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion.
  • Close to 5,700 kms, out of the 7,516 kms long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis.
  • 68% of its cultivable area is vulnerable to droughts; and, the hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches.
  • Moreover, India is also vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made disasters.
  • Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographics and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, geological hazards, epidemics and pandemics.
  • Clearly, all these contribute to a situation where disasters seriously threaten India’s economy, its population and sustainable development.

Worst Disasters in India

  • Kashmir Floods (2014) affected Srinagar, Bandipur, Rajouri etc. areas of J&K have resulted into death of more than 500 people.
  • Uttarakhand Flash Floods (2013) affected Govindghat, Kedar Dome, Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand and resulted into death of more than 5,000 people.
  • The Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004) affected parts of southern India and Andaman Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Indonesia etc., and resulted in the death of more than 2 lakh people.
  • Gujarat Earthquake (2001) affected Bhuj, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Kutch, Surat, Surendranagar, Rajkot district, Jamnagar and Jodia districts of Gujarat and resulted in death of more than 20,000 people.
  • Odisha Super Cyclone or Paradip cyclone (1999) affected the coastal districts of Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Ganjam etc., and resulted into death of more than 10,000 people.
  • The Great Famine (1876-1878) affected Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad, and Bombay and resulted into death of around 3 crore people. Even today, it is considered as one of the worst natural calamities in India of all time.
  • Coringa Cyclone (1839) that affected Coringa district of Andhra Pradesh and Calcutta Cyclone (1737) are some other instances of natural calamities faced by the country in the past.
  • The Bengal Famine in the years 1770 and 1943 affected Bengal, Odisha, Bihar very badly and resulted into death of nearly 1 crore people.
  • Bhopal Gas tragedy (December, 1984) is one of the worst chemical disasters globally that resulted in over 10,000 losing their lives (the actual number remains disputed) and over 5.5 lakh persons affected and suffering from agonizing injuries.
  • In recent times, there have been
    • cases of railway accidents (Dussehra gathering on the railway tracks crushed by the trains in 2018),
    • fire accidents in hospitals due to negligence and non-implementation of existing mandatory fire safety norms,
    • collapse of various infrastructure constructs like flyovers, metro tracks and residential buildings due to poor quality of construction, illegal addition of floors and recurring floods.
    • Stampede at large public gathering like Kumbh Mela caused by poor people management and lack of adequate infrastructure to monitor and manage large crowd gathering.

Stages in Disaster Management

  • Disaster Management efforts are geared towards disaster risk management.
  • Disaster Risk Management implies the systematic process of using administrative decisions, organisation, operational skills, and capacities to implement policies, strategies and coping capacities of the society and communities to lessen the impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters.
  • These comprise all forms all activities including structural and non- structural measures to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) adverse effects of hazards.
  • There are three key stages of activities in disaster management:
  1. Before a disaster: to reduce the potential for human, material, or environmental losses caused by hazards and to ensure that these losses are minimised when disaster strikes;
  2. During a disaster: to ensure that the needs and provisions of victims are met to alleviate and minimise suffering; and
  3. After a disaster: to achieve rapid and durable recovery which does not reproduce the original vulnerable conditions.
  • The different phases of disaster management are represented in the disaster cycle diagram.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

  • Disaster risk reduction is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and reduce the causal factors of disasters.
  • Pre-Disaster risk reduction includes-
    • Mitigation: To eliminate or reduce the impacts and risks of hazards through proactive measures taken before an emergency or disaster occurs.
    • Preparedness: To take steps to prepare and reduce the effects of disasters.
  • Post-Disaster risk reduction includes-
    • Rescue: Providing warning, evacuation, search, rescue, providing immediate assistance.
    • Relife: To respond to communities who become victims of disaster, providing relief measures such as food packets, water, medicines, temporary accommodation, relief camps etc.
    • Recovery: This stage emphasises upon recovery of victims of disaster, recovery of damaged infrastructure and repair of the damages caused.

Disaster Risk Reduction in Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1: Target 1.5, which relates to building the resilience of the poor, further strengthens the position of disaster risk reduction as a core development strategy for ending extreme poverty.
  • Goal 2: Target 2.4 supports the immediate need to advance actions in mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation into agriculture sector planning and investments in order to promote resilient livelihoods, food production and ecosystems.
  • Goal 3: Target 3.d, relates to strengthening early warning and risk reduction of national and global health risks presents an opportunity to further actions to promote resilient health.
  • Goal 4: Target 4.7 focusing on building and upgrading education facilities and promoting education for sustainable development, contribute significantly to resilience-building in the education sector.’
  • Goal 6: Target 6.6, which relates to protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems, will significantly contribute to strengthening the resilience of communities to water-related hazards.
  • Goal 9: Targets 9.1 related to developing sustainable and resilient infrastructure development are vital not only to protect existing infrastructure but also future infrastructure investments.
  • Goal 11: Action targets under this goal (11.1, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.b and 11.c) focusing on upgrading urban slums, integrated urban planning, reducing social and economic impacts of disaster risk, building the resilience of the urban poor, adopting and implementing urban policies in line with the Sendai Framework and building sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure, are strategic opportunities to ensure increased capacity to support cities, to protect current and future development prospects and to build safer, more resilient cities throughout the world.
  • Goal 13: Target actions under this goal, focusing on strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity, capacity building and integrating climate change measures into policies and plans, awareness raising on climate adaptation and early warning (Targets 13.1 to 13.3 and 13.a to 13.b) provide opportunities to strengthen the integration between disaster and climate resilience and to protect broader development paths at all levels.
  • Goal 14: Target action 14.2, focusing on the sustainable management and protection as well as strengthening resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems, can contribute to reducing disaster risk and increase in demand for healthy marine and coastal ecosystems.
  • Goal 15: Target actions 15.1 to 15.4 and 15.9, focus on managing and restoring forests, combating land degradation and desertification, conserving mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity and integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies.
  • These targets are also in line with the Sendai Framework focus on building environmental resilience through the inclusion of ecosystems in risk analysis and planning.

Challenges in Disaster Risk Reduction

  • There are insufficient levels of implementation for each monitored activity. For example, Disaster risk management plans or a risk sensitive building codes exist but they are not enforced because of a lack of government capacity or public awareness.
  • There is lack of local capacities to implement disaster risk management. Weak capacity at the local levels undermines the implementation Disaster preparedness plans.
  • Absence of integration of climate change into Disaster risk management plans.
  • There is divergence of obtaining political and economic commitments due to other competing needs and priorities such as poverty reduction, social welfare, education etc. require greater attention and funding.
  • Due to poor coordination between stakeholders, there is inadequate access with respect to risk assessment, monitoring, early warning, disaster response and other Disaster related activities.
  • Insufficient investment in building disaster resilient strategies, also private sector are least contributors in the share of investment.

Organisations related to Disaster Management Framework at Global level

  • In 1994 the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction was held in Yokohama, Japan.
    • The conference adopted the Yokohama strategy and declared the decade 1990-2000 as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).
  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is the successor to the secretariat of IDNDR and was created in 1999 to implement UN Disaster Risk Reduction strategy.
  • The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is a 10-year plan (2005-2015) to make the world safer from natural hazards. Priorities such as, Disaster risk reduction, identification, assessment through legal and policy frameworks, disaster preparedness and use of innovation was adopted.
  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework.
    • It is a non-binding agreement, which the signatory nations, including India, will attempt to comply with on a voluntary basis.
  • There are three international agreements within the context of the post- 2015 development agenda. These are:
    • The Sendai Framework.
    • Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030
    • The Paris agreement (COP 21) on Climate Change.
  • These three agreements recognize the desired outcomes in Disaster Risk Reduction as a product of interconnected social and economic processes, which overlap across the agendas of the three agreements.

Organisations an Policies related to Disaster Management Framework at National level

National Disaster Management Authority of India (NDMA)

  • It was established in 2005, under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • The objective of NDMA is, to build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, proactive, technology driven and sustainable development strategy.
  • The NDMA is chaired by the Prime Minister of India and has a vice chairman with the status of Cabinet Minister and eight members with the status of Ministers of State.
  • The NDMA Secretariat is headed by a Secretary and deals with mitigation, preparedness, plans, reconstruction, community awareness and financial and administrative aspects.

National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP)

  • It was released in 2016, it is the first ever national plan prepared in the country for disaster management.
  • With National Disaster Management Plan (2016) India has aligned its National plan with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, to which India is a signatory.
  • The objective of the plan is to make India disaster resilient, achieve substantial disaster risk reduction. It aims to significantly decrease the losses of life, livelihoods, and assets in terms of economic, physical, social, cultural, and environmental. To maximize the ability to cope with disasters at all levels of administration as well as among communities.

State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA)

  • At State level, State Disaster Management Authorities are established under Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • SDMA is chaired by the Chief Minister of the State and has not more than eight members who are appointed by the Chief Minister.
  • The SDMA prepares the state disaster management plan and implements the National Disaster Management Plan.

District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA)

  • Under Disaster Management Act 2005, every State government shall establish a DDMA for every district in the State.
  • The DDM Authority shall consist of:
    • Chairperson - the Collector or District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner act as Chairperson of DDMA.
    • Co-Chairperson - is the elected representative of the local authority. In the Tribal Areas, the Chief Executive Member of the district council of autonomous district is the co-chairperson.
  • There are not more than seven other members in DDMA.
  • The Disaster Management Committee governed under District Magistrate will formulate village level disaster management plans for concern villages.
  • The DDMA makes District Disaster Management Plan and implements the state Disaster Management Plan.

**No Planning comission today

Government Initiatives

  • India is a signatory to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and is committed to achieve the priorities and objectives through systematic and institutional efforts.
  • With multi-dimensional initiatives and expertise, India is taking a leading role in strengthening regional cooperation among South Asian countries for reducing disasters.
  • India is one of the participating countries and works closely with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). India has been working closely with many countries for the exchange of ideas and expertise in disaster management.
  • National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) defines the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders including Central Ministries/ Departments, State Governments, UT Administrations, District Authorities and local self Governments.
  • Primary responsibility of disaster management rests with the States. The Central Government conducts regular mock drill, community training and awareness programme to prepare the civilian populations for disasters.
  • National Disaster Management Services (NDMS) was conceived by NDMA during 2015-16 for setting up of Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Network connecting MHA, NDMA, NDRF etc. to provide the failsafe communication infrastructure and technical support for Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) operations across the country.
  • NDMA has taken an initiative on Earthquake Disaster Risk Indexing (EDRI) for 50 important cities and 1 District in Seismic Zone IV & V areas.
    • This kind of indexing will be helpful in comparing the overall risk across large number of cities or region and also in prioritization of cities to implement appropriate disaster mitigation measures.
  • NDMA through Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) has prepared Upgraded Earthquake Hazard Maps and Atlases for the country for better planning and policies.
  • Leveraging the technology of geographic information system (GIS), NDMA have taken up a project for disaster risk management by establishing GIS Server and creation of database to integrate data obtained from various stakeholders to increase disaster preparedness, mitigation, damage assessment, response and relief management efforts.
  • Under the National School Safety Programme (NSSP), 8600 schools (with 200 schools in 43 districts in 22 States/UTs falling seismic zones IV and V) have been selected for providing training on school safety and disaster preparedness.
  • The Aapdamitra scheme of NDMA has provision for training 6000 community volunteers in disaster response in 30 most flood prone districts (200 volunteers per district) in 25 States.
  • The government has set up National Crisis Management Committee and Crisis Management Group.
  • The state governments have set up state crisis management groups headed by chief secretaries, institutes of relief commissioners and state/district contingency plans.
  • The disaster management policy of the government stresses on forecasting and warning using advanced technologies, contingency agricultural planning to ensure availability of food grains, and preparedness and mitigation through specific programmes.
  • Project on deployment of Mobile Radiation Detection Systems (MRDS) to handle Radiological Hazards in Metros/Capital Cities/Big Cities in India to detect unclaimed radioactive materials/substances and save public from its hazardous effects.
  • Landslide Risk Mitigation Scheme (LRMS) envisages financial support for site specific Landslide Mitigation Projects recommended by landslide prone States, covering disaster prevention strategy, disaster mitigation and R&D in monitoring of critical Landslides thereby leading to the development of Early Warning System and Capacity Building initiatives. The Scheme is under preparation.
  • Core Group has been formed for Preparation of Guidelines to avert Boat Tragedies in India.

Disaster Management in India: Success stories

  • The Indian government's "zero casualty" policy for cyclones and the pinpoint accuracy of the India Meteorological Department's (IMD) early warning system has helped reduce the possibility of deaths from cyclone Fani in Odisha.
  • India's policy of minimising fatalities from cyclones has been proven by past performances as in cyclone Phailin in 2013, when famously the casualty rate was kept to as low as 45 despite the intensity of the storm.
  • In August 2010 during the flash floods due to cloudburst in Leh in Ladakh region by the Indian Army. The Army's immediate search, rescue, and relief operations and mass casualty management effectively and efficiently mitigated the impact of flash floods, and restored normal life.
  • Bihar suffers from floods almost every year during the monsoon season, predominantly due to the Ganges and its tributaries. The State has successfully scaled up disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts since 2011.

Issues

  • There are significant gaps in preparedness on various aspects of risk management, particularly for catastrophic disasters like major earthquakes and floods.
    • Though all of India’s states have departments of disaster management or relief and rehabilitation, they are still poorly prepared to lend support in times of disasters, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
    • In a number of recent disasters, 2010 mudslides in Leh, Sikkim earthquake in 2011 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013, the level of preparedness was inadequate, leading to high levels of mortality and displacement of people.
  • Facilities such as emergency operations centres, emergency communications, and search and rescue teams are being made available but these systems and facilities need to be strengthened.
  • In India Disaster management is yet to be seen as an essential part of good governance and integral to development planning.
  • The preparedness at various levels are not people-oriented.
  • India’s capacity to manage disaster risk is challenged by its size and huge population. The country is likely to have the greatest exposure of any nation in the world to extreme weather and natural disasters by 2030.
  • The northeast region is most at risk from earthquakes and lacks seismically secure infrastructure and buildings. It is also vulnerable to landslides, floods and erosion.
  • Flooding on the country’s plains is a regular occurrence, and although communities are resilient, the intensity of floods has reduced their capacity to adapt.
  • The local adaptation efforts driven solely by communities are no longer sufficient and additional, scientifically planned adaptation is needed, which will require government support.
  • The division of responsibilities under the Disaster Management Act is not very clear, resulting in its poor implementation. There also exists an overlap between the implementing agencies
  • Intense public and media scrutiny after disasters automatically leads to a higher priority being given to response, rather than risk reduction.
  • Furthermore, where risk-reduction activities are described, State Disaster Management Plans (SDMPs) does not institutionalise accountability mechanisms to ensure that departments follow these considerations in their own planning. As a result, risk-reduction activities are driven by schemes and external projects, rather than by guidelines in SDMPs.
  • Because risk-reduction needs are locations specific, this gap is an opportunity for stronger, locally led risk-reduction planning by Strengthening disaster risk management in India

Suggestions

  • A clearer demarcation of national and state-level responsibilities is needed, especially regarding who is responsible for risk-reduction activities.
  • It is vital for state disaster management authorities to focus on the continued capacity-building of district disaster management authorities and CSOs that are responsible for managing disaster risk. Capacity-building should support the planning and implementation of actions across the full disaster management cycle.
  • There is a need to revise the SDMPs to include a much greater emphasis on risk reduction, rather than just preparedness and response.
  • Existing rules and regulations that impede the inclusion of measures for risk reduction need to be amended.
  • Build partnerships with and draw lessons from forerunner states such as Bihar and Gujarat on how to include risk reduction in plans more effectively.
  • Accountability mechanisms need to be specified. This will ensure that departments follow disaster risk-reduction considerations in their own development planning.
  • There is an urgent need to put the National Disaster Mitigation Fund and state disaster management funds into operation. States such as Bihar, which are leading in this regard, should share lessons on how to realise this at the state level.
  • States should
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