October 13 is observed annually as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction to raise awareness about the risk of disaster reduction. The day is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health, as per the United Nations.
The day was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.
Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes.
Natural disasters are, of course, beyond human control. However action and inaction by people can profoundly affect their outcome, exacerbating or mitigating their effects on populace. This point was forcefully made in the United Nations 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Although natural calamities strike the wealthier nations too, the risk of death and economic loss from such events is heavily concentrated in developing countries and within these countries, it is the poor who disproportionately suffer.
Pre-emptive risk reduction is the key. There is need for sound response mechanisms after the event. Government must find practical ways to reduce vulnerability to a variety of natural hazards that claim many lives and hit economies. Jammu and Kashmir recently saw ravaging cloud burs, taking cruel toll. Several persons were killed including in remote village of Kishtwar, tragically 18 are still missing three months after the calamity struck.
Also India has been divided into four zones viz. zone V, IV, III and II according to the seismic zoning map of India prepared by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) based on historical seismicity and strong ground motions.
Out of these zones, Zone V exhibits the highest seismic risk and zone II has the least.
All districts of Kashmir valley and Doda district fall in Seismic Zone-V, and the rest of the districts fall in Seismic Zone-IV.
While occurrence of earthquake or some other natural calamities cannot be predicted accurately with existing technology, there is need for preparedness on part of the government and people beforehand as well as need for sound response.
Given the high vulnerability, there is no ordinary escape for the region from susceptibility to earthquakes and other calamities. However, the foreknowledge of potential danger areas can help mitigate the impact of a disaster.