The following research paper tries to explain how disaster management and
reduction ideologies and need has grown over the years and the need for the
formation of proper rules, regulations and policies, not only at the
international level but also at the national level. Each should formulate such
policies for disaster risk reduction as might be suitable according to their
geography and ecology. The importance of interdependence of various countries of
the world in mitigating and reducing risks of disasters.
Furthermore, it also
tries to explain the stand of India on disaster risk management and the
formation of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction explaining the stand
of India in disaster management and risk reduction. It also substantiates, Prime
Minister's 10 point agenda addressing disaster risk reduction and management. In
conclusion, the recent Uttarakhand glacier burst case has been analyzed with
incorporation of the viewpoints of environmentalists.
A habitat, a surrounding for various humans, animals and plants is
the very source of living species on Earth. Living species can never be imagined
to exist without Environment. It has been intact at its place since the very
inception of life on planet Earth. If we try to closely inspect the importance
of environment from a societal approach we would come across the most important
aspects to it, which are, human growth and development.
The health/ wellbeing of
the children, adults, flora and fauna depend on the environment they are staying
in. all the developmental activities are always conducted on the face of
environment. Big industries, buildings, houses, shopping complexes are all a
part of societal as well a capital development of the country but there are
always two sides to a coin.
On one hand environment is manifested as the most
important asset which it is but on the contrary, this important asset is not
given its due share of care, protection and management. The world is growing and
the economies are booming but often the environment or the land on which it is
growing is neglected and people have now started to only focus towards further
advancements. Little do they realize that once the environment on which all
these advancements are taking place lose its credibility because of over usage,
numerous earthly systems would collapse and it would ultimately lead to
expiration of all the living species.
The issues related to over usage or over construction on the surface of earth by
cutting away and displacing the flora and fauna has since many years been the
core subject matter of environmentalists. It would not be incorrect to say that
this issue still remains neglected largely despite the fact that it is the need
of the hour to address it. It is apparent that the thing or object or system
which gives to the opportunity to grow also requires care.
body helps a human in growing spiritually, mentally, physically but in return it
requires its care and cannot be neglected because otherwise the whole system of
the body would get disrupted; same is the case with environment. If humans are
taking so much from it, if they are growing and developing on the face of
environment then it necessary that due care and lookout is provided to it.
When humans continue to use the environmental resources without giving
reasonable care and overly using up the resources and at the same time also
causing harm to the environment, it results in a disaster/calamity. A disaster
always at a large scale and if is of a great intensity leads to loss of life and
humungous damage to the surrounding areas. A disaster can never be predicted.
Despite the fact that disasters are natural and take place on their own, they
mostly have human origins.
It is generally because of human actions that the
earth behaves a certain way. Therefore, the only thing that the world can do on
its part is avoid indulgence into such activities which might disturb the
balance of the nature and environment. If human beings use the resources which
are perishable as well as non perishable judiciously and sustainably then it
might up to an extend help in maintaining balance on earth. Furthermore, it is
very important to note that every forest patch or green area should not be
converted into a capital generating area.
there is a hill station
which has a high altitude and has several species of flora and fauna have their
habitat on those hills. If by the means of construction most of the flora and
fauna are disrupted and removed for making buildings, factories etc. Moreover,
these factories would also emit so many chemicals and wastes which would lead to
rise in temperature in an area which is naturally cold as far as its climate is
concerned. Under such circumstances it is quite evident that a disaster will
take place and the Earth will try to restore itself to the shape it was in
As the present condition governs, already so many such things have taken place
which have disrupted the balance on Earth like construction on mountains,
conversion of large belts of forests into cities, disposal of wastes in the
river bodies, emission of carbon monoxide, global warming and what not. All
these factors have over the years contributed largely in the deteriorating
health of planet Earth and its environment.
In such conditions it is obvious
that we come across so many cases of natural calamities and disasters all around
the globe. In order to tackle such problems, the national forum of United
Nations and the various countries of the world finally felt the need to take
appropriate steps to avoid more harm to the environment and ecology. It was
after this enlightenment that various countries of the world decided on
formulating proper rules related to environment protection which have on their
personal end. In order to protect the environment and make sure that it works
smoothly the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was formulated with its
main objective as formulating such international accords which will help several
countries of the world in formulating their respective environmental laws and
collectively work for the benefit of the environment.
However, only formulating
rules and regulations are never sufficient and it is important that there is a
supervisory committee which makes sure that all the rules and regulations formed
by the international agencies are implemented by the nations. UNEP is an agency
with a very wide range of subject matters and deals with all sorts of problems
and issues related to the environment. The United Nations environment programme
was set up in the year 1972 in course the United Nations conference on Human
environment which took place in Stockholm.
This was the first step towards
protection of environment at an international level now the next thing line was
the management of disasters which has already been mentioned is unpredictable.
This unpredictability makes it even more important to substantiate such rules
and regulations are in place; this would help the various nations of world in
managing these calamities and disasters and minimize the desolation and
depredation that it might cause.
Evolution Of Disaster Management
- The first ever world conference on natural disasters took place in the
year 1994 in Yokohama (Japan). This conference was countersigned by the
United Nations General Assembly. This conference's main agenda was to
address the after effects of natural disasters and most importantly it put
emphasize on being prepared before hand, taking preventive measures and
mitigation. A total of 10 principles were adopted in its master plan and to
make sure that all the member states followed these principles, a follow up
process was also set up.
Broadly stating, the following 10 principles were advanced under the
- The easiest yet the most difficult way of avoiding or preventing
disasters or natural calamities is protection of environment and using its
resources judiciously and in a sustainable manner. In this way there will be
no need to spend heavy amounts of capital in order to avoid protect the
world from natural calamities
- Risk assessment was given utmost importance as it intended to help the
member states in assessing the issues related to environment in that
particular country and formulating such policies which would work as a
shield against the forthcoming disasters, if any.
- A great emphasize was given on being prepared in advance and also
prevent such activities because of which there is a possibility that a
disaster might take place.
- In order to be prepared in advance it is important that all the
countries, while formulating policies at all levels, inculcate such aspects
which reduce the need for disaster relief.
- All the nations should work on building and developing their capacities
so that they have enough techniques and mechanisms to mitigate, be prepared
and reduce the disasters.
- Broadcasting information about to predicted risk of a calamity is an
important facet in preventing and managing disasters. For his purpose, it is
important for the countries to have appropriate technological knowhow so that
the information can be spread to different parts of the country by using
different methods like telecommunication etc.
- It is only when all the members at local, national, international level
work with unity and as a federation that this preparedness and prevention
would actually work otherwise no one would gain any benefit.
- In order to spread awareness about disasters and the way in which people
can protect themselves in such circumstances, proper knowledge should be
provided all over the country, especially in vulnerable parts.
- Technology plays the most crucial role in imparting knowledge and
alertness in all the corners of the world. Therefore, such technology which
can protect the people from any natural calamity by giving them a far
sighted vision and predictability should be imparted to the whole world for
- A country's leadership has the responsibility of all citizens living in
its premises and therefore it has to make sure that all the available
resources of the country are efficiently used in favor of the public.
- The second world conference took place in the year 2005 in Kobe (Japan).
This conference had its seating after Indian Ocean Tsunami which occurred
less than a month ago from the date of the conference. It was attended by
4000 participants. It was after this plan world conference that the
international early warning programme was finally adopted. Its main agenda was just like the
first world conference, to reduce disasters by being prepared about it.
of more importance because it was in the news at that time and Japan was chosen
as the venue for the reason that it has had a history of disasters and the Great
Hanshin Earthquake also made it an appropriate venue. This conference also
addressed the importance of health case measures which need to be taken by the
countries in the post disaster phase. Moreover, whenever the world would try to
keep up with the technology and introduce new and better methods of disaster
management, it is important for them to also be efficient because otherwise many
nations would not be able to afford it and as a consequence would be left behind
the other countries.
The most important outcome of the 2005 Kobe world conference was the Hyogo
conference for action.
Looking at the loopholes in managing disasters at that
time this conference for action bestowed a total of 5 priorities namely:
- Disaster risk reduction should be made a priority.
- Improving the system of early warning and risk factors
- Making safety a culture
- Reducing risk factors in key sectors
- Nourish preparedness for response to disasters
- Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction (2015-2030). The conference
took place, like the other world conferences in Japan. It was validated by
the United Nations General assembly. Just like the Hyogo framework for
action its objectives also revolved around strengthening the preparedness
and risk management.
United Nations Office For Disaster Management
UNDRR is incorporated under the United Nations secretariat. It was formulated
in 1999 with the objective of making sure that the international strategy of
disaster management is implemented. Its headquarters are situated in Geneva and
has a total of 5 offices under its authority namely:
- Arab states
- Asia pacific region
- Latin America and Caribbean
- Africa region
The Sendai framework is the guiding light of UNDRR and ambition is reduction of
disasters and risks which might cause a chaos. It would not be incorrect to say
that all the world conferences which took place in the history of international
environmental law have in some or the other way incorporates elements of them in
UNDRR's mandate. The most prominent of which are the Sendai and the Hyogo
convention. The vision and strategy of UNDRR, like all the other conventions
revolves around good governance and law making.
It also believes that the
leadership has to be so solid and competent in a nation that no matter what
calamity might strike the country in the near future; it is able to overcome and
tackle it with appropriate strategies. It is also correct that to implement such
rules and for tacking the situation of a disaster it is important for the
country to have appropriate technology. Moreover, it is not feasible for a
country to single handedly tackle all the forthcoming problems. There might be
instances in which it is not even seen by the metrological department that some
calamity is going to take place. In such cases, interdependence and togetherness
of the various member states of the world comes into existence.
It might as well
happen that a country is not rich enough to afford a said technology or does not
have a technical knowhow then as well strong international relations usually
help and such technology can be provided to that country. All these are nothing
else but the visionary points of UNDRR. Despite the fact that these
international goals are very important, yet, they are not sufficient. The reason
being that at the national level also problems related to risk of natural
disasters or management of disasters have to be addressed and the authorities
have to substantiate appropriate policies.
As mentioned earlier, it is not practically possible to know well in advance
about a calamity or a disaster but measure can surely be taken in order to
foresee and be ready to face any such calamity. This is one of the mandates of
UNDRR and for it to meet its vision and propaganda it is very important to
initiate such mechanisms which can help in monitoring. Such monitoring by
competent authorities and that too regularly can help in analyzing even the
small changes in the environment which can be an alarm for a future threat.
knowledge and proficiency would help in formulating better policies with better
precision and at a wider end become the cornerstone of UNDRR's strategies and
objectives. Usage of resources sustainably or efficiently while strategizing
disaster risk management goes without saying. It is important for all the member
states to implement these policies combined with the landmark PARIS AGREEMENT
which focuses on reducing the intense changes in climatic conditions.
Tsunami, Cyclones, Cloud bursts and several other disasters show that it is the
weather which acts as a catalyst to these disasters. UNDRR, as discussed earlier
mandates that proper mechanisms should be installed and proper monitoring is
required. Nothing can prove to me more accurate that the meteorological
department. The international meteorological department keeps an eye on changing
weather conditions and the threat that it might bring along with it. For
example: whenever it is going to rain in a particular area, the people of that
are or for that matter of fact the whole country gets to know it beforehand.
This is nothing but prior information which is one of the strategies of UNDRR.
Now, because a warning has been generated and the people of that area are well
versed with the situation, they have the time to prepare for it and this
preparation would help in avoiding risks from disasters which are predictable.
In this way, the IMD stands as one of the most important departments which gives
a far sightedness and better planning time to the countries. Warning systems
only work when sufficient time is provided to the people to vacate or make such
arrangements which help them in fighting the disasters. For instance, whenever
there is a flood predicted to hit the low lying southern areas of India, those
areas are vacated beforehand.
The reasons for this are:
- The calamity or the disaster has already been predicted and
- these low lying areas often face such situations annually and every year
or after a year or two, such a floods are expected to take place.
Therefore, it makes it easier for the authorities to
predict and take appropriate actions to vacate the place which is expected to
bear the consequences of the disaster or such measures are taken which can
minimize the effect of the disaster in that area.
Before the advent of computers and internet, it was unquestionably difficult to
predict such disasters and this was the reason that earlier calamities caused a
huge havoc to the country it hit. After the advent of internet news circulation
has become easy and the range of people has also increased. Metaphorically, news
these days travel with the speed of light and therefore disaster management and
risk reducing management has picked up its pace and it comparatively easier now.
India And Disaster Risk Reduction
It was the need of the hour, addressing which, most of the countries including
India has taken an initiative and a thorough approach towards reducing disaster
risk. India is a country which faces floods and other calamities from top to
bottom i.e. J&K to Kanyakumari. From 1970-2009 Indian has been hit by a total of
371 Natural disasters because of which more than 1.5 lakh people lost their
lives and more than 1.5 billion were affected. Out of all the disasters, water
based disasters like tsunamis are the most frequently experienced. Other than
that, Earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, droughts are also experienced in India.
These disasters have a long lasting impact. It would be accurate to say that
India, despite of being capable enough has faced certain severe disasters with
thousands and thousands of people dying or getting displaced, not only this, but
economically as well, with damages caused by floods being the costliest of all
disasters, hits the hardest. This is mentioned in the 2019 publication of an
article by Devi Prasad Dash and Yashobanta Parida titled The Indian Growth and
The economic aspect to natural disasters is very vast as it
straight away affects the fiscal aspects of the country. The budget of the
country, rather than being provided for development of the country has to be
allocated for damages caused by the calamities or disasters. Moreover, the crops
grown in the areas hit by flood also get destroyed and the hard work of farmers
also goes in vain. All these factors are enough to support the statement that
India is one of the most vulnerable countries of the world as far as disasters
are concerned and requirement of the hour that such policies and systems are set
up which help in reducing and mitigating the social as well as economic damages
that disasters cause.
GFDRR or Global Facility for Disaster Reduction is a globally acclaimed
initiative which helps developing countries in mitigating natural disasters and
work toward making them less vulnerable to natural disasters. It helps
developing countries in understanding disaster risk better and building proper
investment techniques to reduce the ill effects of disasters. In this way the
non abundance of funds will not stand as a hindrance and the present funds
available with the country can be appropriately utilized.
National Platform For Disaster Risk Reduction
On 26 February 2013, the government of India formulated the National Platform
for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR). It is multipartite body. This body does not
do any work at the root cause of disaster management or does not participate in
introducing disaster management techniques; rather, this body has a supervisory
function of keeping a tab and reviewing various already existing national
policies on disaster management. In addition to its supervisory functions, the
body also acts as an adviser of the multipartite body. Answerability is
something which works best in bringing transformation in the system. This was
the main idea behind making of NPDRR, this advisory body would bring about
answerability and as a result better policies for disaster risk management will
The third meeting of DRR has been proposed with the theme of ‘mainstream
disaster risk reduction'. It shall have the following objectives:
- Disaster risk reduction and development- the government shall focus on
forming such developmental goals which will give a greater emphasis on
reducing the risk of a disaster as a consequence of such development.
- The unity of three important posts- SDGs, SFDRR and COP21.
- Better governance for disaster management and risk reduction in order to
- Strategizing and planning between various states on Prime Minister's
Agenda 10 related to disaster risk reduction and management.
PM Agenda 10
Prime minister Narendra Modi have due attention to India's biggest loophole
which is Disaster risk management and proposed 10 agenda points in order to
reduce risk from disasters and also management of disasters:
- All the sectors (development) are bound to follow all the principles for
disaster risk management and reduction.
- In case of a disaster, the coverage will not be provided on the basis of
status. All households, ranging from poor to multi nationals shall be
provided disaster coverage.
- Greater women participation should be encouraged in disaster risk
- Technology, being an important aspect to disaster risk reduction has to
be kept in consideration and such new technology shall be anchored which
would prove to be an asset for disaster risk reduction agenda.
- International and national interdependence plays a crucial role in being
more vigilant towards the upcoming problems. Therefore, such investment
shall be made which would increase global understanding.
- New institutes dealing exclusively with disaster management shall be
- Increased role of social media in awareness of disasters and their
management shall be encouraged.
- States and other local bodies shall be made competent enough to work for
disaster risk reduction at their level as well.
- Proper studies shall be conducted after a disaster so that there will be
a scope for learning and filing in the loopholes.
- Bring about solidarity in the international world
Uttarakhad Glacier Burts Case
Glaciers are made up of fallen snow which over a period of time transforms into
hard mass of ice. These glaciers flow like a very slow water body; these
glaciers are so massive in size and weight around 100-200 thousand tons. The
burst of a glacier is a rather very rare phenomenon but was witnessed in the
latest Uttarakhand glacier burst case.
The phenomenon/disaster took place in the Tapovan area of Chamoli district. Chamoli district lies in the Garwal division
of Uttarakhand and is also infamous for a number of pilgrimage sites including
Hem kund sahib, Badrinath temple. This region has been always been well known
since the early ages because it was the birth place of the revolutionary Chipko
movement. This region is surrounded by various mountain ranges which are
separated from one another by valleys.
The eastern Chamoli district is known for
higher mountain ranges with Nanda Devi, the second highest mountain in India
after Kanchenjunga. This clearly proves that the altitude of this region ranges
from 800 meters to 8000 meters above the sea level. The southern part of this
district consists of low altitude mountains formed usually of sedimentary rocks.
Contrary to the southern mountains, northern mountain ranges if Chamoli district
contains glaciers which makes it an important source of water for the low lying
areas of the state. In order to make sure that the water travels from higher
altitude to lower altitude faster using gravitational potential energy
governments end up constructing big hydro projects. Water is a necessity and an
integral source of life which makes it all the way more important to reach
people in time.
The precise geographical terminology from glacier burst is Glacier Lake Outburst
Flooding (GLOF). Whenever a glacier bursts, it bursts in a glacier lake and
because of chunks of ice falling in the lake and water travelling from higher
altitude to lower, the speed of the flood increases. Obviously, if a lot of
water from the glaciers rolls down in the river, it will lead to a disaster and
cause wide ranging disruptions. In this case, a part of the Nandadevi glacier
broke off.; the river which flooded is known by the name of ‘Dhauliganga River'.
The two hydro power projects which fell in the way of the flood are Rishiganga
power project and Tapovan Vishnu gad and were washed away by the floods.
With the number of effected people rising day by day, it estimated that more
than 150 people are still missing with more than 26 deaths. It is speculated
that the reason behind this glacier burst could be climate change and global
warming which are two very important parts of environmental law. These types of
disasters can never be predicted and therefore it is apparent that it is going
to cause chaos in the area and lives of the people will be put at stake. In
order to deal with it, it is the obligation of the government to initiate
management of the disaster by formulating special groups of forces.
exactly what is happening in Uttarakhand. The Indo- Tibetan border police
personnel have been given directions by the authorities to carry on rescue
operations in Raini village where water bodies were flooded and destroyed the
whole area. In order to tackle this case it is imperative that the government
immediately drafts such policies for prevention of future risk in the area.
Environmentalists are of the view that this disaster is a manmade disaster and
is not an act of God. Mountains are meant to have a cold climate because they
are on a higher altitude. Repeated constructions of various projects causes the
ecology of mountains to get disrupted because as more and more plants and
projects will be set up, the heat in the area would increase and this would
cause a climate change in the area for obvious reasons.
In order to reduce such
disasters from taking place and cause havoc and un necessary plight to the whole
nation, the ecology of the mountains should be left alone. The government should
draft such policies and laws related to the environment of higher altitudes
which restricts too much development in the area which upsets the whole system
and finally results in a disaster.
References And Sources
- Class notes
- The Hindu
I, hereby declare that the dissertation entitled “United Nations Disaster risk reduction and National platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in correlation with Uttarakhand Glacier burst case” is an original work submitted by me and has not been submitted in any university for any degree or diploma.
Written by: Ashna Sharma
, BA LLB (H), Course: Environmental Law, Semester- 08, Batch- 2017-2022 - Amity Law School, Noida