With rapid economic development, there has been spread of chemical industries – small, medium and large – across the country. However, there is a relatively higher presence along the west coast, largely due to the proximity to raw materials and ports.
Due to the regional concentration of chemical companies in certain pockets, the chemical hazard has increased many folds.
The growth of chemical industries has led to an increase in the risk of occurrence of incidents associated with hazardous chemicals (HAZCHEM).
These events occur due to mishaps or failures in industry and affect the industrial functions, property and productivity.
While the common causes for chemical accidents are deficiencies in safety management systems or human errors, or natural calamities or sabotage may also trigger such accidents.
Chemical/ industrial accidents are significant and have long term impact on the community and environment. It leads to injuries, pain, suffering, loss of lives, damage to property and environment. Hence, a robust plan and mitigation measure needs to be adapted to overcome the hazard.
Nuclear and Radiological Emergency (NRE)
A nuclear disaster is caused due to an extraordinary release of radioactive material or radiation either in the operation of nuclear reactors or other nuclear events like explosion of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) or Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) or explosion of a nuclear weapon.
It is accompanied with a sudden release of harmful radiations or radioactive materials or both together into the environment.
Nuclear weapons, a major accident in a nuclear power plant or an accidental exposure of radiation, due to accident with the radioactive material during transportation, faulty practices, and mechanical failure in a radiation facility can lead to nuclear or radiological emergency.
Even though such situations may not arise easily, everyone needs to be prepared to face such emergencies. All organizations dealing with nuclear and radiological material have an inherent culture of safety, follow best safety practices in the sector, and they apply high standards to ensure minimum risk.
However, nuclear emergencies can still arise due to factors beyond the control of the operating agencies from human error, system failure, sabotage, extreme natural events like earthquake, cyclone, flood, tsunami or a combination of these.
Such failures, even though of very low probability, may lead to on-site or off-site emergencies. To counter this, proper emergency preparedness plans must be in place so that there is minimum loss of life, livelihood, property, and impact on the environment.
Fires can start due to human activities or from natural causes. Forest fires can start from either natural causes or human activity or from a combination of both. The most common fires are the residential and non-residential structural fires caused usually by human activities.
Most industrial and chemical fires are triggered by human activity. They are sometimes caused by human errors, faulty designs, or mechanical failures.
Fire can also be the secondary effect of a disaster like earthquake. Secondary fires after a disaster like earthquakes constitute a substantial and heavy risk.
Damage to natural gas systems during an earthquake can lead to major fires and explosions. Damages to electrical systems during a disaster can ignite major fires.
The growth of fire-services in the country has been on an ad-hoc basis and needs to be professionalized. Varying risk scenarios need different types of equipment.
The risk varies with geographical location such as hilly area, coastal-area, desert–area, and with different types of residential (medium/ low-rise/ high-rise) buildings, industrial, commercial area or a combination of these.
There is considerable need for skill upgrade of the staff and modernization of the entire fire service system.
Flood Governance – What are the steps taken by the government?
Embankments were constructed to create a “safe” area for habitation and they provide these in areas where the embankments are new.
But large populations continue to stay inside the embankment, that is, outside the “safe” areas, at the mercy of the imminent flood.
In 1980, the RashtriyaBarhAyog (RBA) had assessed the area of 40 mha in the country lying in 21 States and one Union Territory.
Subsequently, a Committee constituted under the Chairman, Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC), Patna in February 2006 identified a total of 39 districts in the country as flood prone.
The government’s response to floods has been focused on massive structural interventions like dams, dredging of rivers, and porcupine structures to combat erosion.
But empirical experience shows that dams often get silted quickly and in order to save the dam, water has to be released downstream, tending to cause flooding as a result of which bamboo porcupine structures gets washed away.
The Union Government has also been providing central assistance to the State Governments for effective flood management in critical areas based on the recommendations of the Task Force 2004 on Flood Management/Erosion Control.
Initiatives in order to deal with floods
Policy Statement 1954
High-Level Committee on Floods – 1957
Policy Statement of 1958
National Flood Commission (RashtriyaBarhAyog) 1980
Expert Committee to Review the Implementation of the Recommendations of National Flood Commission – 2003 (R Rangachari Committee)
National Water Policy (1987/2002/2012)
Flood management does not aim at total elimination or control of floods or providing total immunity from the effects of all magnitudes of floods.
It is a multipronged strategy ranging from modifying the floods by means of structural measures to learning to live with the floods by means of other nonstructural measures is well within pragmatic realism in flood management.
An efficient flood management is a special case of water management and requires a most holistic approach as it involves the management of thousands of micro-watersheds in both the catchment and the flood prone areas.
Flood Protection Vs Flood Governance
Flood protection necessarily starts and ends with structural intervention and provision of relief. Flood governance would require the innovative combination of initiatives undertaken at various levels.
At one level, it is important to conduct “strategic environment assessment” of all development activities in the ecologically pristine locations of the Eastern Himalayas and aim for river basin management.
Important recommendations of Task Force 2004 on Flood Management/ Erosion Control
Expand the role of the Central Government in the Flood control sector – The flood control schemes should be funded through a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in the ratio of 90% Central and 10% State from the present 75:25.
The total investment for plan/flood Management may be to at least 1% of the total plan outlay.
Earmarking funds in the state sector as Additional Central Assistance for maintenance of embankments.
Creation of a revolving fund of Rs. 50 Crore, which may be available annually to the Ministry of Water Resources to take up emergent flood management schemes.
Strengthening of the Ganga Flood Control Commission by the addition of a Member (Works) and appropriate field formation for investigation and execution of critical flood management works.
Strengthening of Flood Management Organization of the Central Water Commission by restoring the post of Member (Floods) abolished earlier and redeployment of posts of Chief Engineer, two Directors and other lower level functionaries in order to have policy formulation and coordination amongst various agencies.