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Natural Disasters and Human Activities UPSC NOTE

 Natural Disasters and Human Activities

  • The scale of natural disasters that we now see across the world are definitely man-made. 

  • Some sections of the population are more vulnerable to them and more at risk than others.

  • Humans have played an important role in enhancing the risk from climate hazards. 

  • The frequency and intensity of hazards have increased, and anthropogenic climate change has played a major role in that. 

  • We have built on floodplains, encroached water bodies, and planned our cities without thinking about sustainability. So, humans are responsible. 

  • Development translates to infrastructure growth.

  • We don’t pay enough attention sustainable development. 

  • Sustainability means emphasising not only economics, but also society and environment.

  • Any sustainable development will consider the environmental implications. 

  • So far, we have just run behind the economics, the land holdings, finding cheaper land, filling the water bodies, removing palaeochannels (deep underground stores of groundwater) and destroying natural drainage systems. 

Indian scenario

  • There are a few different ways in which the landscape of disasters in India has changed. 

  • The movement of people to urban centres has affected natural landscapes. 

  • Some [landscapes] have changed drastically and exceeded their carrying capacity and this has exacerbated the extent of loss and damage in these areas. 

  • Failure of planning in understanding how to ensure that certain critical ecosystems are kept alive and natural systems are kept at the core of the way we live.

  • In Mumbai, we have seen floods viscerally and the city has continued to grow. 

  • Mumbai has its own Disaster Management Agency. It has been engaging with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, which develops models to predict floods better. 

  • Also, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s storm-water drainage department has, in the last decade, built larger water-holding tanks. 

  • Mumbai has been able to perform much better in this regard than, say, Delhi, which is seeing recurrent floods. 


  • Lack of awareness and ignoring a risk.

  • Risk is not clearly estimated or defined when we implement a new infrastructure project. 

  • The problem is, most of the time this risk is underestimated. 

  • Because often, we don’t have a complete record that informs planners about current and upcoming disasters. 

  • Data sets are often pretty old and do not directly provide sufficient information about the future.

  • Inadequate observational network especially in Himalayan territory.

Way forward

  • The only solution is adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, implementing careful urban planning, and creating roads and streets keeping these in mind.

  • We will have to think about long-term risk assessments, vulnerability assessments.

  • Understand how socioeconomic drivers are worsening the problem in certain communities compared to others in the city.

  • Bring experts from both private and public agencies to have very good solutions, current and modern ways of understanding the scale of a disaster, where the risk is, and what kinds of solutions should be modelled around it.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Natural Disasters and Human Activities UPSC NOTE
Natural Disasters and Human Activities UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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