India is high risk country; better natural disaster planning needed

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) A World Bank Report released here today assigns India the 36th position out of 170 countries in terms of risk relating to natural disasters and says an alarmingly high 49.6 per cent of its GDP is in areas where risk of such activity is high.

The Report says the Indian subcontinent is prone to natural disasters. As many as 199 out of 633 Indian districts are hazard prone; the Bay of Bengal's warm shallow seas and still air provide ideal condition for cyclones; the northern region bordering the Himalayas is vulnerable to earthquakes and floods during the monsoon season are commonplace.

It notes that floods used to occur only in the Indo-Gangetic belt, but over the last 50 years they have spread to States such as Rajastahan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu because of soil degradation and impact of poor infrastructure.

The Report says floods during the monsoon are often followed by droughts, due to deforestation and soil degradation, water does not penetrate the soil.

Between 1984 and 2003, the Centre for Research into the Epidemology of Disasters CRED) recorded 85 floods, 51 cyclones, ten earthquakes registering above five on the Richter scale and eight droughts in India.

The Report says damage from Indian Ocean tsunami was 0.18 per cent of GDP, more than 10,000 people died and 5,000 are missing in India alone.

The Report says monsoon floods in India and the neighbouring countries were a seasonal event in 2007; where 3,339 people were killed and nearly 57 million people affected.

Briefing newspersons on the Report, Dr Vinod Thomas, Director General, Evaluation, World Kank, said India has a high capacity to deal with disasters, but does not do well enough on preparing for disasters. The financial system and the planning process in the country does not integrate disaster management and prevention plans into the main plans in an effective way.

The Report ranks India among the top ten borrowers of World Bank funds and projects for natural disasters.

It says Asian countries are in the high-risk category and the impact on the continet is especially large.

The following are the Asian countries with their ranks and percentage of GDP in areas at risk (in that order) (1) Vietnam--5--89.4 per cent;(2) Bangladesh--9-- 86.5 per cent;(3) Philippines --10--85.2 per cent;(4) Thailand--13--81.2 per cent; (5) Uzbekistan--22--65.5 per cent; (6) Indonesia--- 28--62.3 per cent; (7) China -- 29--56.6 per cent;(8) Kyrgyz Republic 34--53.4 per cent and (9) India 36--49.6 per cent.


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