Disaster may come in two ways. It may be natural, or it may be accidental or man-made. Earthquakes, tsunami, landslides, cyclones, floods and droughts are natural disasters. And, the collapse or catching fire of a building, train or plane accident, explosion of a bomb causing casualties, etc. are accidental or man-made disasters.
The people of Bhopal are still suffering from the tragic consequences of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy which was man-made. As to natural disasters in India, we see that Gujarat, Manipur and Arunachal are very prone to earthquake. Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are frequently hit by landslides. Bihar, Orissa and some parts of West Bengal are frequented with floods. Cyclones are very common in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal. Occasional tsunamis may also hit such areas. A large part of Rajasthan and some districts of West Bengal-such as Purulia and Bankura-suffer from drought-like conditions almost every year.
For the remedy of such disasters, measures should be taken in two broad categories-(a) post-disaster management, and (b) pre-disaster steps. Post-disaster management includes shifting the sufferers to the relief camps, providing with food, clothing and medicines, and later to rehabilitate them. But now the perspective has been extended to taking pre-disaster preventive measures too, as the proverb says-prevention is better than cure. Of course, it is not always possible to predict the exact time and magnitude of any natural disaster such as earthquake, tsunami, etc. But it is possible to take safety measures by constructing strong and light buildings,-especially in the earthquake-prone areas in order to lessen the casualties during an earthquake. Floods may be prevented by building dams and bridges, linking more channels to rivers, and providing eco-friendly forest cover, etc. These long-term measures may help the people to face the fury of floods.
The mass media can help people by giving timely warnings. It can act as a bridge between the sufferers and the aid-giving agencies in case of an emergency. Television channels and newspapers may afford public call for raising fund to help the suffering people.
The state governments are now forming disaster management bodies or task force with skilled persons and suitable equipment. We know different disasters call for different techniques for tackling the situations. And so it is the duty of the government to prepare suitable plans for disaster management. Training should be arranged to the common people too to meet the emergency situations. Proper relief and rehabilitation should also be provided to the survivors and special care should be taken for those who are traumatised.
The Ramakrishna Mission, Bharat Sevashram Sangha and some other NGOs may also take a vital role in such situations.