Disaster is an extreme event that causes loss of life, property, essential services and means of lifelihood. It decapacitates the affected community to such an extent that it becomes difficult to cope up with this frim situation. It is the culmination of a devastating situation posed by natural phenomena and by man-made events. However, both of these have considerably disrupted normal life in its established social, traditional and economic spheres. Unique geo-climatic conditions make various countries, including Indiam vulnerable to natural disasters. The earthquakes of Bhuj, El Salvador and Peru; floods in Asia and Africa; droughts in Africa and Central America, cyclones in Madagascar and Orissa; tornadoes in USA and tsunami in the Indian ocean increasingly highlights the fact that natural disasters are increasing in magnitude and frequency leading to an economic impact on human lives. This scenaro has confounded the fact the increasing population pressure and various other socio-economic factors has forced people to live in areas vulnerable to such disasters.
Man-made disaster is an emergency situation, which is principally caused by identifiable human actions-deliberate or otherwise. This form of disaster is caused by several interrelated but complex reasons, such as rapid industrialization, over-population, use of hazardous substances and processes, increased consumerism, negligence of professionals and the public. In addition to accidents, man-made disasters have a slow onset, as the underlying causes would be brewing up over a period of time. Thus, disasters like Chernobyle Nuclear accident, Bhopal gas tragedy, and fires at Dabwali (Haryana) and Kumbhakonam (TN) can be differentiated from the other slowly-brewing, anthropogenic disasters such as riots, terrorism and human displacements reflecting social problems in the community. Natural disasters can also cause anthropogenic disasters, as mass-scale migration of people during droghts, floods and earthquakes. In many cases, natural and human factors work together to induce disasters, leading to dissertification and loss of biodiversity.
Though complete prevention of natural disasters in impossible, their adverse impacts can be minimized by establishing early warning mechanisms, ensuring preparedness and by taking mitigation measures. A holistic and proactive approach towards disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation is need of the hour. Thus, a paradigm shift in disaster management from disaster mitigation to prevention and mitigation is imperative. Planning for development should also be taken into account disaster mitigation, preparedness capacity building and community participation. It is a truism that the poorest and the weakest sections of the society are also the most vulnerable to disasters. Ensuring equitable and balanced socio-economic development of all regions and communities can only attain the goal of sustainable development. Planning for disasters and their mitigation will ensure sustainable development. Planning for disasters and their mitigation will ensure sustainable development of backward, disaster-prone regions as well as communities.
Any book on disaster and its planning has great relevance for the society. The proposed book will include contributions, incorporating contemporary developments, in this field from academicians, scientists, technocrats, managers and those in voluntary sector from India and abroad. The book will be of wide appeal to various actors in disaster management life administrators; NGOs; professionals such as geologists, meteorologists, engineers, forest and fire services; researchers, relief and social workers; and the common man.