Odisha witnessed a series of natural disasters in the last decade. The effect of hazard have further been compounded by accompanying socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, geological hazards, epidemics and pandemics. Odisha is vulnerable to multiple natural hazards. Due to its sub-tropical littoral location, the state is prone to tropical cyclones, storm surges and tsunamis.. Though a large part of the state comes under Earthquake Risk Zone-II (Low Damage Risk Zone), the Brahmani-Mahanadi graven and their deltaic areas come under Earthquake Risk Zone-III (Moderate Damage Risk Zone) covering 44 out of the 106 urban local bodies of the state. Heat-wave conditions during summer months also lead to heat stroke death. Due to erratic and deficient rainfall during the South-West Monsoon-2015, the State of Odisha faced with a severe drought situation. The State received 14% deficit rainfall leading to a drought situation and crop loss above 33% in over 5.23 lakh hectare of cultivated land in the state. the districts such as Balasore, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Gajpati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabrangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur and Subernapur received deficient rainfall. The State government declared 123 blocks spread over 14 districts as affected .
Disaster Management is a dynamic process. It involves multiple stakeholders for immediate response, recovery, prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The Odisha 99 super cyclone has taught us good lesson. Institutional mechanisms are put in place at State, district and sub-district levels. Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA) is set up by the Government of Odisha to take up not only the mitigation activities but also relief, restoration, reconstruction and other measures. In addition to the above mentioned institutional mechanisms, the Odisha Relief Code has specifically dealt on Drought in Chapter -III. It has elaborated upon rain recording, reporting of weather and crop situation, duties of RDC, Collectors and Sub-collectors, meetings of District level calamity Committees, crop loss assessment, declaration of drought, master plan for drought prone areas and the provision of immediate relief and other provisions including ensuring supply line of food, provision of drinking water, provision of water for cattle, immediate irrigation facilities, suspension of collection of loans, relief to students and educational institutions, reports on starvation etc.
Despite the aforementioned mechanisms in place, the Disaster Management Act is yet to be implemented in full spirit at the district level. The State Disaster Management Plan has not dealt with drought or like situations, despite the fact that the State often reels under severe drought. Odisha is also prone to low level earthquakes – the cities with high-rises are vulnerable but there is no plan in place to make the cities and the buildings earthquake resilient. As a result, though the State has been able to reduce human loss to some extent in the wake of disasters, the long and medium term impact of disasters are very much felt.
Given the scenario, the Odisha Development Conclave-2016 would focus on the following areas to discuss and deliberate upon the disaster management scenario in the State.
- Issues of Response
- Policies, Act and Institutional Mechanisms
- Mainstreaming DRR-the need for coherent and coordinated approach
- Drought, flood, climate variations and its affect on livelihoods