GUWAHATI, Dec 20 - Guwahati city is vulnerable to various kinds of disasters, both natural and manmade and according to a study, disasters mostly occur at specific times of the year. There is need for proper planning to deal with disasters in the city, even as the study reveals that certain areas of the city are more vulnerable to specific disasters.
The study of the State government revealed that most of the incidents of outbreak of fire take place during March-May and the most vulnerable areas are Fancy Bazar, Paltan Bazar, Noonmati, Dispur, Beharbari, etc. Fancy Bazar witnessed a number of major fires in the last few years and the congested lanes in the business hub make the task of fire fighters more difficult. Majority of the fires broke out in Guwahati in the last few years because of electrical short circuit and careless handling of LPG cylinders.
The report pointed out that Guwahati is always considered vulnerable to earthquakes as it falls in the high risk Zone V in the seismic map and as no one can predict the time and place of an earthquake, the authorities concerned must make full preparation to deal with the situation if a major earthquake strikes the city. Lack of adequate open spaces is an area of concern in case of a major earthquake striking the city.
Flood, including artificial deluge, occurs in the city every year during the rainy season. The most vulnerable areas are RG Baruah Road, Nabin Nagar, Lachit Nagar, Anil Nagar etc. Other areas also witness artificial floods every year, particularly during May-August. The report said that overflowing of the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries including Bharalu is one of the main reasons for floods in the city. But there have also been instances of choking of drains, adding to the miseries of the citizens.
The government report said areas at Azara and Chandrapur are most vulnerable to soil erosion, but due to unabated settlement on the hills, soil erosion and landslides are now taking place all over the city and in recent years, casualties due to landslides have become a common phenomenon.
Azara area is considered most vulnerable to cyclones, particularly during June-October. The area faces the prospect of air services getting disrupted if a major cyclone hits it.
Disaster planning includes pre-disaster mitigation, disaster preparedness, etc. Mitigation focuses on the hazard that causes the disaster and tries to eliminate or drastically reduce its direct effects. The best example of mitigation is construction of embankments and proper drainage system in flood-prone areas and urban localities to avoid floods (flash flood). The other example includes retrofitting weak lifeline buildings to make them earthquake-resistant.
Preparedness focuses on plans to respond to a disaster threat or occurrence. It takes into account an estimation of emergency needs and identifies the resources to meet the needs. The first objective of the preparedness is to reduce the disaster impact through appropriate actions and improve the capacity of those who are likely to be affected most. The second objective is to ensure that ongoing development continues to improve the capacities and capabilities of the system to strengthen preparedness efforts at community level. Finally, it guides reconstruction so as to ensure reduction in vulnerability. The best example of preparedness activities are the development of community awareness and sensitisation system through community education and administrative preparedness by way of stockpiling of supplies and developing emergency plans for rescue and relief.