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Disasters are a product of human and natural elements that cause extreme events to result in disasters because human beings are living in harm's way. The magnitude of loss from a disaster is also dependent on both human and natural elements (Blaikie et al., 1994, Wisner et al., 2004). The vast research has been carried out in approach to disaster management. Trim, P. R. J (2004) states although it is possible to prevent and contain both man-made and natural disasters, it has to be said that the increase in the world's population is likely to increase further the frequency of a major disaster occurring. Disaster management and planning needs to be placed in a holistic setting, and new initiatives found in order to ensure that a disaster is viewed as a shared responsibility."

A review of the literature provides the framework for understanding the role of built environment professionals in environmental hazards, and illustrates how the built structures and professional attitude intensify vulnerability to geophysical processes.

Definition of Disaster:

A disaster is defined by the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (2003 cited Shaluf, I.M. 2007) as: "A serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of affected society to cope using only its own resources."

In order to understand the concept of disaster and the disaster management paradigm, it is crucial to comprehend what are the basic concepts of disaster and its management. There are various definitions of disasters given by experts in the disaster management field. According to Hewitt (1983, p.4), term disaster is "The potential for damage that exists only in the presence of a vulnerable human community." But, United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation (UNDRO) (1987,p.1) defined disaster as , an impingement on society to the extent that a community undergoes severe danger and incurs such losses to its members and physical appurtenances that the social structure is disrupted and the fulfillment of all or some of the essential functions of the society is prevented.

The National Disaster Management Act 2005, of India defines disaster as "a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence affecting any area, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area." (cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009).The United Nations (UNDRO 1987 cited Hanisch 1996, p.22) define disasters in the following way: "A disaster is an event that is concentrated in space and time and that subject a society to severe danger and such serious losses of human life or such major material damage that the local social structure breaks down and the society is unable to perform any or some of its key functions." (cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009).

The CRED (2009 cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009) in Brussels, Belgium, defines disaster as a situation or event which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to a national or international level for external assistance whereas The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains disaster as 'any occurrence that causes damage, economic destruction, loss of human life and deterioration in health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area'.

Hazard and Risk:

Renee Pearce (2000) states that hazard are the potential for a disaster. For instance a meteor were to fall on a desolate area; even if it killed no one and destroyed no property, and left minimum damage to the environment, it would be considered a potential hazard. Natural hazards are natural events that threaten lives, property, and other assets. Often, natural hazards can be predicted. They tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because they are related to weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area.

Haddow, G. D, and Bullock, J. A (2003), pointed out that natural hazards are those hazards that exist in the natural environment and pose a threat to human populations and communities. According to Smith (1996, p.5), Risk is sometimes taken as synonymous with hazard but risk has the additional implication of the chance of a particular hazard actually occurring. Smith further explains that hazard is a naturally occurring process with the potential to create loss; and risk as an actual exposure of human value to hazard which further regarded as a combination of probability and loss. In short hazard is the potential threat to the society and the risk is the probability of particular hazard occurrence. "When large numbers of people exposed to hazard are killed, injured or damaged in some way, the event is termed as a disaster" (Smith, 1996).

Major Natural Disasters in India:

India is vulnerable in varying degrees to a large number of natural as well as man-made disasters-58.6 per cent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity; over 40 million hectares (12 per cent of land) is prone to floods and river erosion; of the 7,516 km long coastline, close to 5,700 km is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; 68 per cent of the cultivable area is vulnerable to drought and hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches. Further, the vulnerability to Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) disasters and terrorism has also increased manifold (GOI-NDMA, 2007). Kishore (2003) pointed out that Asia and the Pacific are among the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Every year disasters of all kinds cause huge loss of life and property in the Indian region, causing severe setbacks to the development process. The region accounts for only 30 percent of the world's land mass but suffers disproportionately higher disaster impacts. Menon, V. C., and Kavad, S. (2009) notes the disasters like droughts, floods, earthquakes, and cyclones devastate the country with grim regularity year after year. They are spiralling out of control, increasing in frequency, causing more and more injury, disability, disease, and death, adding to the health, economic and social burden of an already impoverished nation. The cost of natural disasters in India, in terms of human life, loss of property and assets and loss of shelter and livelihoods, is immense.Menon, V. C., and Kavad, S. (2009) discusses the alarming statistics below:

  1. Of the 35 states and union territories, 22 are disaster-prone.
  2. Between 1988 and 1997, disasters claimed 5,116 lives and affected a colossal 24.79 million people every year.
  3. In 1998, 9,846 people died and 34.11 million were affected by disasters.
  4. In the Orissa super cyclone of 1999, over 10,000 people were killed and thousands left homeless.
  5. In January 2001, over 16,000 lives were lost in the earthquake that struck Kutch and other areas in the state of Gujarat. Thousands are still homeless. Thousands more have lost their precarious means of livelihood.
  6. In the December 2004 tsunami, approximately 11,000 people lost their lives, with about 650,000 displaced.
  7. The Jammu and Kashmir earthquake in October 2005 claimed 1,400 lives and left 1,50,000 people homeless in India.
  8. The August 2008 Bihar floods, the most devastating one in the history of the state took over 2000 lives and affected over 2.3 million people in the northern part of Bihar.

Table-1.1: Statistics of loss and damage due to past disasters in India.

(Source: Menon, V. C., and Kavad, S. 2009)

Kishore (2003) highlighted that the types of disasters to occur in Asia and the Pacific in the period 1988-1997 were:

  • geological hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions;
  • hydro-metrological hazards such as floods, cyclones and droughts; and
  • other hazards such as epidemics, insect infestations, heat waves and cold waves, and forest fires.

Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities. These include the overgrowing population, the vast disparities in income, rapid urbanization, increasing industrialization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. Clearly, all these point to a future where disasters seriously threaten India's population, national security, economy and its sustainable development (GOI-NDMA, 2007).

Types of Natural Disasters and its impact:

Natural disasters have great impact on the communities and results in great loss of lives and huge damage to built environment. The types of natural disasters which frequently occur in India are briefly classified as:

  • Earthquake;
  • Tsunami;
  • Cyclones;
  • Floods;
  • Droughts; and
  • Landslides.
  1. Earthquake:
  2. Earthquake is caused by abrupt displacement along a zone of pre existing weakness of the earth crust, called a fault. Seismic waves are produced due to sudden displacement of the earth crust which ultimately results in the movement of earth surface. Movements are preceded by the slow build up of tectonic strain which then deforms the crustal rock formation and creates stored elastic energy. The fracture occurs when the imposed stresses exceed the strength of the fault. This sudden failure releases the stored energy producing seismic waves radiating outwards in widening spheres around the fault. The displacement of the rock may be vertical, horizontal or in both directions, which is often visible in the form of small fault scarps.

    "The point of rupture, known as the hypocentre, can occur anywhere between the earth's surface and a depth of 700 km. Shallow focus earthquakes (<40 km below the surface) are the most damaging events, accounting for about three- quarters of the global seismic energy release" (Smith, 1996). Epicenter is the source point for the earthquake measurement, which lies on the earth surface above the hypocentre. The earth crust consists of seven major geological formations known as tectonic plates. These plates are in continued motion, which includes grinding, sliding, colliding or slipping under each other. This motion slowly produces stress, which accumulates inside the earth surface. "The main environmental hazard created by seismic earth movement is ground shaking" (Bolt, 1988).

    Magnitude of earthquake is measured on the Richter scale which was invented by Charles Richter. These scales analyse the total energy of the seismic waves radiating outwards from the point of earthquake as recorded by the intensity of the ground motion amplitude on seismographs, at a normal distance of 100 km from the location of source.

    According to Smith 1996, hazard impact cannot be predicted accurately from the energy release and magnitude of earthquake as the duration of ground shaking is not considered in the magnitude concept. In fact many other contributing factors like soil & rock condition; distance from the epicentre to the damage area; population density; and nature of building construction are responsible for earthquake losses.

    Impacts of earthquakes:

    About 50-60 per cent of total area of the country is vulnerable to seismic activity of varying intensities. Most of the vulnerable areas are generally located in Himalayan and sub-Himalayan regions, and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Sharma, V.K, 2004). Of the numerous earthquakes, those of the Latur-Maharashtra (1993), Chamoli-Himalaya (1999), Bhuj- Gujrat (2001) did cause extensive damage to the life and property. The death and destruction brought about by these earthquakes was immense. Earthquakes of Magnitude 6+ on the Richter scale have frequented India every 2 years. The Seismicity of the affected Area of Kutch is a known fact with a high incidence of earthquakes in recent times and in historical past. It falls in Seismic Zone V, the only such zone outside the Himalayan Seismic Belt. In last 200 years important damaging earthquakes occurred in 1819, 1844, 1845, 1856, 1869,1956 in the same vicinity as 2001 earthquake.

    Earthquake can cause ground shaking and rupture earth's surface. Infrastructure facilities like roads, buildings, dams, houses, bridges are damaged due to earthquake, which are more vulnerable due to their rigidness. Collapse of structure due to the movement and shaking of ground may create an additional danger to the lives of people. Earthquakes are very dangerous not only due to their severity, but they can also trigger other natural disasters such as tsunamis, landslides, avalanches, fires and flash floods, (flooding occurs due to the failure of Dams, canals, etc.).

  3. Tsunami:
  4. Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning 'The Harbor Wave'. Tsunami is shallow water waves that propagate in great speed transferring tremendous energy from the source across oceans towards the land. These waves have great destructive potential, as they increase in height while they approach land.

    Tsunami or seismic sea wave is the most characteristics secondary earthquake-related hazard. The word tsunami is a combination of two Japanese words, "Tsu" meaning Harbour and "Nami" meaning wave. "This derivation is very appropriate since these waves can inundate low-lying coastal areas" (Smith, 1996).Main cause for tsunami generation is earthquakes in the oceanic and coastal area. Earthquakes associated with the movement of oceanic and continental plates, and of magnitude usually higher than 7 on Richter scale can generate tsunami. The Fracture of these continental oceanic plates triggers a vertical movement or uplift of sea bed that allows sudden and efficient transfer of energy from the oceanic plates to the ocean. A ripple like motion on the surface of the ocean is created by the plate failure; this ripple motion then forms the waves with the height ranging from three metres to thirty metres. Height of the tsunami waves is very low in the ocean, and has speed of approximately 800kph, but as these waves travels towards the land they gain the appreciable height. These waves gain height only when they reach shallower waters. These waves arrive towards the land in the series of successive 'crests' (high water level) and 'troughs' (low water level).

    Impacts of Tsunami:

    Tsunami can cause massive destruction in terms of human life loss and damaging infrastructure. "Physical destruction from tsunamis occurs through a variety of mechanisms." (Bernard and Goulet, 1981). After tsunami strikes, the flotation and drag forces can destroy houses, while inundation waves turns out floating debris, boats, houses, vehicles, tress which can struck with the harbour structures and causing danger to them. According to Asian Development Bank (2006), the earthquakes set off giant tsunami waves of 3 to 10 meters in height, which hit the southern and eastern coastal areas of India and penetrated inland up to 3 kms, causing extensive damage in the Union Territory of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry. About 2,260 km of the coastal area besides the Andaman & Nicobar Islands were affected. Overall damage to assets is estimated at about $660 million and productivity losses about $410 million.

  5. Cyclones:
  6. The word "Cyclone" is derived from the Greek, word "Cyclos" meaning the coils of a snake. To Henri Peddington, the tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal and in the Arabian Sea appeared like the coiled serpents of the sea and he named these storms as "Cyclones". A "Cyclonic Storm" or a "Cyclone" is an intense vortex or a whirl in the atmosphere with very strong winds circulating around it in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere. Cyclones are intense low-pressure areas from the centre of which pressure increases outwards. The amount of the pressure drop in the centre and the rate at which it increases outwards gives the intensity of the cyclones and the strength of winds (GOI- NDMA, 2007).

    Impact of Cyclones:

    India has a vast coast line of 5,700 km, which is frequently affected by tropical cyclones arising in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea causing heavy loss of human lives and property. The coastal belt of peninsular India, especially the east coast, experiences frequent cyclones and about 80 per cent of total cyclones generated in the region hit the coast. Such cyclones coupled with storm surges cause loss of lives and inflict severe damage to a variety of structures, houses, commercial buildings, industrial structures and many life-line installations. Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), Madras, has been conducting post-disaster damage surveys on buildings and structures ravaged by cyclones from time to time. The Centre has conducted a damage survey of buildings and structures due to a severe cyclone, which hit the east coast of India, near Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh State, South India, during November 1996. The maximum wind speed of the cyclone, as reported by the India Meteorological Department, was about 61m/s and it was accompanied by storm surges of height up to 5m. Typical failures observed include complete collapse of roofing system in most of the dwellings and semi-engineered buildings with thatch, tiles and AC sheets, failure of connections, failure of gable walls, and progressive collapse of roof steel trusses.

  7. Floods:
  8. Flood, as defined by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, is a relatively high flow or stage in a river, markedly higher than the usual; it also includes the inundation of low land which may result therefrom. A river, floods when it can no longer contain the discharge from its catchment and the bankfull stage is exceeded. The causes of floods can be understood from two standpoints, one being the natural causes of floods and the other being the man-made causes of floods. However, it should be borne in mind that irrespective of the causes of flood being natural or man-made, they are affected severely by both natural and man-made factors. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain.

    Impact of Floods:

    Floods are the most frequent natural calamity that India has to face almost every year in varying magnitudes in some or other parts of the country. India is highly flood prone. Of the total of 62 major rivers, eighteen are flood prone and drain an area of 150 Mha. Floods are mainly due to heavy rainfall in association with tropical lows, depressions, and cyclones. On an average 60% of the total damages due to floods in a year are in the States of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Crops in the States of Assam, Bihar, and West Bengal cover about 40% of the total area affected. In terms of the monetary value of crop loss, this is 90% of the total damage in these States. In Uttar Pradesh, crop loss is about 55% of the total damages incurred. The maximum damage recorded due to floods in India was about Rs. 654 crore in 1980, while that in 1965, it was only of Rs. 11 crore. On the positive side, the floodwaters do bring about some positive effect. The alluvial soil brought by the floodwaters is a great boon to agriculture (cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009).

  9. Droughts:
  10. Drought is the single most important weather-related natural disaster often aggravated by human action. Drought is a situation which occurs due to lack of precipitation. Drought creates the deficiency of the water, which affects the people, animals, crops, and vegetation in the environment. Drought is a slow occurring event; in fact it gives plenty of time to reduce the impact.

    Impact of Droughts:

    In India, thirty three percent of the area receives less than 750mm rainfall and is chronically drought-prone, and thirty five percent of the area with 750-1125mm rainfall is also subject to drought once in four to five years. Thus, 68 percent of the total sown area covering about 142 million hectares is vulnerable to drought conditions. India has faced three major droughts in this century- 1904-1905, 1965-66 and 1986-87. The 1987 drought had a lasting impact on one-third of the country (cited Rao, D. P., n.d.)

  11. Landslides
  12. Landslide is the movement of earth mass under the action of gravity in the downward face. It occurs normally in the mountain region and the sliding earth mass can destroy homes and injured people. It can be controlled by proper slope stabilisation methods.

    Impacts of Landslides:

    India provides striking examples of a bewildering variety of landslides and other mass movements. There have been numerous landslides disasters, unique and unparalleled. The Darjeeling floods of 1968 destroyed vast areas of Sikkim and West Bengal by unleashing numerous landslides, killing thousands of people. Similarly, the Malpa rock avalanche tragedy hit headlines as it instantly killed 220 people and wiped out the entire village of Malpa on the right bank of river Kali in the Kumaun Himalaya. Landslides in the southern India also revived public imagination when the Amboori landslide in the State of Kerala killed 23 people (cited Bhandari, R.K. 2006)

Disaster management:

Disaster management is a well-drawn preparation for resisting a disaster, instant reaction to disaster and a detailed plan for bringing the situation back to normalcy. According to the Indian National Disaster Management Act 2005, disaster management means a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary or expedient for (1) prevention of danger or threat of any disaster (2)mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or consequences (3) capacity building (4)preparedness to deal with any disaster (5) prompt response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster (6)assessing severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster (7) evacuation rescue and relief and (8) rehabilitation and reconstruction (cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009).

The High Powered Committee (2007) defined Disaster Management as a collective term encompassing all aspects of planning for and responding to disasters, including both pre and post disaster activities. It may refer to the management of both the risks and consequences of disasters" (cited cited Panigrahi, A.K. 2009). Moe, T.L., & Pathranarakul, P. (2006) identify that the term Disaster management is interchangeably used with a term emergency management. It involves plans, structures, and arrangements established to engage the normal endeavors of governments, voluntary and private agencies in a comprehensive and coordinated way to respond to the whole spectrum of emergency needs. Such activities are carried out in an urgent manner when there is an onset of disaster occurrence. The latest definition of disaster management defined by UNISDR (2009) is "The systematic process of using administrative directives, organizations, and operational skills and capacities to implement strategies, policies and improved coping capacities in order to lessen the adverse impacts of hazards and the possibility of disaster". Further U.N.ISDR explains the term disaster management is an extension of risk management to cover the issue of disaster risk.

It is almost impossible to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters and their damages. However it is possible to reduce the impact of disasters by adopting suitable disaster management strategies. Disaster decision making takes place before, during, and after a disaster strikes. The phases of decision making are usually described as mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation involves long-term actions to prevent or reduce a hazardous effect from occurring, such as building structures that can withstand the force of winds or earthquakes. Preparedness anticipates the effects and takes appropriate countermeasures in advance, such as issuing warnings, stockpiling supplies, or establishing evacuation routes. Response includes actions taken during an event and its immediate aftermath, including rescue. And recovery brings a community back to life by restoring essential services and economic vitality.

Different phases of Disaster Management:

Regardless of the type of disaster, Disaster management process is divided in 6 phases, which includes the pre-disaster management and post-disaster management; the phases are Response, Recovery, Mitigation, Risk reduction, Prevention and Preparedness. Whereas response and recovery comes under post disaster phase after the disaster strikes, and mitigation, risk reduction, prevention and preparedness comes under pre disaster phase.

  1. Mitigation
  2. Mitigation response attempts to accept the risk of hazard and then analysing it, to reduce the impact and severity, so that when disaster occurs it should not create a havoc condition. "The mitigation phase differs from the other phases because it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk" (Haddow, G. D, and Bullock, J. A. 2003). Mitigate options may be structural or non structural. Structural measures implements technological solutions like, earthquake resistant structure, construction of embankment and flood walls to control floods, or construction of dams to prevent drought. Non structural measures include insurance, emergency evacuation area etc. Mitigation seems to be very cost effective steps in disaster management, as it acts like 'Prevention is always better than cure'.

  3. Risk reduction
  4. Basic concept of the risk reduction phase is to accept the risk of disaster, and prepare action plan to reduce or if possible to avoid the impact of disaster on local community and on surrounding. According to UNISDR (2009), risk reduction is "the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the casual factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improvement preparedness for adverse events".

  5. Prevention
  6. It is "avoiding a disaster even at eleventh hour" (UNDP, cited Wattegama, C. 2007). 'Prevention is better than cure', this is a well known phrase we all listening from our childhood. To tackle with any type of disaster it is must to know the prevention efforts need to be taken e.g., construction of dams to control the floods and to avoid the drought; another example is to design a safe and earthquake resistant structure to bare a ground movements.

  7. Preparedness:
  8. Preparedness is the step before disaster strikes. In this phase emergency manager or decision maker develops and implements the plan to face the emergency situation. Preparedness consists of activities designed to minimize loss of life and damage, organize the temporary removal of people of people and property from a threatened location, and facilitate timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation (Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Summit, 2002). Preparedness for any disaster includes proper communication plan between every volunteer, with required training. Emergency response teams from various organizations help to provide necessary rescue and relief operation to affected people. Most of the time local people or volunteers are preferred in such teams as they have better knowledge of the surrounding situation. Casualty prediction is another aspect of preparedness, in which a prediction about casualties is done, so as to provide sufficient resources for a given kind of event. Planner will get the exact idea of what exactly need to do at the time of disaster, in short planner will get the idea about what right quantity resources need to be utilized at right time and at right place, to strengthen the society from hazard impact. This process should be flexible enough to accommodate sufficient number of sufferers.

  9. Response
  10. It includes mobilization of emergency services to the disaster area as early as possible, such as fire fighting crew, police, and ambulance etc. Quick response to any disaster may save number of lives, from further deaths and injuries. In response phase basic needs of humanitarian is to be taken care of. Medicine, food, potable water, and sanitation system need to be implementing in minimum duration. As after disaster people are frighten and need some moral support, and if they get help at right time, then it may create a positive effect on those people.

  11. Recovery:
  12. Recovery is an integral part of the comprehensive emergency management process (Sullivan, 2003). It refers to all activities that are carried out immediately after the initial response to a disaster situation. This will usually extend until the community's capacity for self-help has been restored. In other words, the end-state is when the assisted community reaches a level of functioning where it is able to sustain itself in the absence of further external intervention (Sullivan, 2003 cited Rotimi, J. O., 2009). "The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure" (Haddow, G.D and Bullock,J A. 2004). "An important aspect of effective recovery efforts is taking advantage of a 'window of opportunity' for the implementation of mitigation measures that might otherwise be unpopular"(Alexander, D. 2002). When a recent disaster is in fresh memory, citizens of the affected area are more likely to accept more mitigation measures.

    Pheng, L. S. et al., (2006) clarify that the enormous amount of effort needed in the various stages of disaster management; it requires a holistic response from many different fields and varied disciplines. For the construction industry, these include professionals, practitioners, and volunteers from international institutions, voluntary welfare organizations (VWOs) or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that specialise in building, civil engineering, architecture, urban planning, and environmental studies.

Role of construction sector professionals:

It was realized during some past disasters in India, namely Latur Maharashtra Earthquake1993, Orissa Super Cyclone of 1999, and the major earthquake in Kutch Gujarat in 2001, that, much of the destruction has been due to the buildings constructed without adequate safety measures as specified in Indian Standard Building Codes. National Disaster Management Authority of the Government of India (n.d.) is recognizing the role of architects and engineers in disaster management and for throwing the challenge of delivering disaster safe constructions with speed and economy and develop innovative, cost effective and appropriate technologies for strengthening the old and non engineered constructions to ensure human safety against all types of natural disasters.

Further it clarifies that "there is an asymmetry in the influence of various role players contributing to disasters and the efforts to improve human resources and quality of practice. It recognizes that the construction sector professionals like architects and engineers can be effective leaders to motivate the other role players to improve the quality of design and construction practice." It is necessary for the local construction industry to appreciate the importance of the building delivery process and its life cycle from planning, design, construction to operation and maintenance. At each stage, a deliberate, planned, strategic, and systematic process must be established to improve the capacity and capability of the industry to respond effectively to disasters (Ofori, 2002). Through integrated efforts by the government, corporate and academic institutions, the local construction industry can also improve its management capacity and capability to prepare for and mitigate the risks from tsunamis (Pheng, L. S. et al., 2006). Owen, D. and Dumashie, D., (2007) assess that there are many agencies who do not know who to call for built environment advice when they are called to a disaster, and monitoring and evaluation of reconstruction efforts is being carried out without professional help. Sevin and Little (1998 cited Haigh, R. et al., 2006) suggest that computerized building plans, structural analysis programmes, and damage assessment models may all facilitate rapid rescue and recovery of victims in the aftermath of an event, and that these all require the active involvement of the construction professions. They also suggested that the construction professions are in the best position to frame the discussion of the cost-benefit tradeoffs that occur in the risk management process, for example the need for risk avoidance against the cost of implementing safety strategies. There is evidence of the ways, Building (2005 cited Bosher, L. et al., 2007) revealed, in which construction industry professionals helped police and the emergency services after the terrorist attacks in London on 7 July 2005 by providing equipment to assist the police with their search and rescue activities. This example illustrates one role that construction sector professionals can play in responding to emergency events and highlights opportunities for construction consultancies to specialize in post-event response and rehabilitation activities. (Bosher, L. et al., 2007)

Chhibber and Parker (2006 cited Pheng, L. S. et al., 2006), both from the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group, noted that it actually costs very little, an estimated 10 per cent increase, to make structures safer. Preventive maintenance of key protective infrastructure is also of critical importance for protection against future catastrophes. The duo opined that prevention is more cost-effective than response, and that poor construction quality is a major reason why so many people lost their lives when disasters strike in developing countries. This could be caused by lax building codes, weak enforcement of construction standards, and corrupt procurement practices. Upstream in the construction supply chain, better land use planning is important to ensure that people are not housed in risky areas. In arguing that building materials and design are closely related and small changes can either save thousands of lives or put many more at greater risks.

A study found that there is a lack of guidance (and a significant lack of any complementary guidance) on how to deal with unexpected disaster events and how to use the information to improve the way buildings and infrastructure are designed and built to cope with such risks and dangers (Bosher et al., 2007). The individual and local nature of the built environment, shaped by context, restricts our ability to apply common mitigation and reconstruction solutions. Disasters have the ability to severely disrupt economic growth and hinder a person's ability to emerge from poverty. The protective characteristics of the built environment and the contribution of the professionals offer an important means by which construction industry can reduce the risk posed by hazards, thereby preventing a disaster. Hence there is urgent need to assess the challenges faced by the construction sector professionals in designing disaster resistant communities.

  • Challenges in Implementation:
  • NIDM (2009) believes that professionals play a vital role in reducing vulnerability to disasters and their capacity to manage disaster risks and emergencies require knowledge, skills, resources, motivation, and attitude at different levels. It includes training, education, guidelines and legislation, policy support for actions, and systemic accountability. Most of the critical factors in success of disaster risk management have been analyzed and evaluated based on the previous study and findings of the researchers.

    1. Knowledge and awareness:
    2. Knowledge can be defined as a dynamic human process of justifying personal belief toward the "truth" (i.e. a justified true belief) (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995 cited Carrillo et al., 2000). Whereas Hicks et al., (2006) defines "Knowledge" as the combination of information which is collection of data. According to Siemieniuch and Sinclair (1999) (cited Carrillo et al., 2000, various classification of knowledge include: formal (explicit) and tacit (expertise) knowledge; foreground and background knowledge; classifications with respect to the role of knowledge for business relevance (e.g. knowledge of business environments), or with respect to the functional roles within an organization (e.g. knowledge for control activities). As per Egbu, C. et al., (2003 cited Thanurjan, R. and Seneviratne, L.P., 2009) the knowledge sources mean the "reservoirs of knowledge", which a knowledge-worker has to fall back on in fulfilling his/her responsibilities. He classified knowledge sources into two main categories i.e. sources internal to the organisation (other individuals, team(s), routines, competences, and repositories) and sources external to the organisation (other individuals, communities of Practice, other networks, repositories, and knowledge gate-keepers).

      King (2005 cited Thanurjan, R. and Seneviratne, L.D.I.P. 2009) defined "Knowledge Management as the systematic strategy to collect; store; and retrieve knowledge, and then help distribute the information and knowledge to those who need it in a timely manner." Organizations who are successful in leveraging knowledge, normally witness increased efficiencies in operations, higher rates of successful innovations, increased levels of customer service, and an ability to have foresight on trends and patterns emerging in the marketplace (Desouza and Awazu, 2006 cited Thaurjan, R. and Seneviratne, L.D.I.P. 2009). Thanurjan, R. and Seneviratne, L.D.I. P., (2009) observes that since construction activities are highly knowledge-intensive, knowledge management (KM) practices will encourage continuous improvement, distribute best practices, quick response to beneficiaries, share valuable tacit knowledge, reduce rework, improve competitiveness and innovations, and reduce complexities in post-disaster housing reconstruction. Banerjee (2005 cited Haigh, R. et al., 2006) argues that lack of prior knowledge and proper point of references have made most of the recovery plans guessing games, eventually failing without adding appropriate values to the recovery attempts. Further Haigh, R. et al., (2006) identifies lack of effective information and knowledge dissemination as one of the major reasons behind the unsatisfactory performance levels of current disaster management practices. Both awareness and preventive steps are needed to prevent huge loss of human life in the future.

      According to Endsley and Garland (2000 cited Son, J. et al., 2007) the situation awareness is a cognitive construct that refers to an awareness and understanding of external events in our immediate and near future surroundings and is defined as "perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the future". Son, J. et al., (2007) examine that a key challenge in an effective disaster response operation is to accurately access existing situation, collect accurate and relevant data from disaster scene, and analyze it and transmit it to the right personnel at the right time. Improved Situation Awareness can have a critical impact on accuracy of the decision making process, resource management, and coordination and response effectiveness. Responders can acquire information from the environment primarily through their senses. The level of acquired awareness depends on the extent of how much a responder is able to perceive the surrounding environment correctly (thoroughness). The thoroughness is affected not only by the responder's characteristics such as knowledge, experience, and training but also by information obtained through direct observation of environment, information systems, and communication with colleagues. Banerjee, (2005 cited Haigh, R. et al. 2006) identifies lack of awareness as a major reason behind the huge loss of life.

      Government of India (2004) identifies that in many cases, the Building regulations do not incorporate the BIS codes. Even where they do, the lack of knowledge regarding seismically safe construction among the architects and engineers as well as lack of awareness regarding their vulnerability among the population led to most of the construction in the urban/sub-urban areas being without reference to BIS standards. Building a robust and sound information database: A comprehensive database of the land use, demography, infrastructure developed at the national, state, and local levels along with current information on climate, weather, and man-made structures is crucial in planning, warning and assessment of disasters. "The 26/7 disaster in Mumbai has triggered the institute to look beyond the four walls and workout measures to prevent disasters. The institute has realized that today the knowledge base of emergency managers has been experiential. There is a need to develop a new generation of emergency managers, which will have appropriate educational inputs and professional knowledge to deal with disasters and work towards disaster mitigation" (Disaster Management Cell, 2007). Further Haigh, R. et al., (2006) suggests that future research must look to enhance knowledge and raise awareness among practitioners and researchers of the linkage between good planning, design, construction and operation, and disaster prevention and resilience.

    3. Attitude:
    4. Following the cultural framework of organizations under stress, it can be argued that the cultural differences between emergency response organizations may prevent a(n) holistic approach on emergency management. In other words, the issues of learning, training, hierarchy and authority, communication and decision-making, secrecy and blame, language, and resources may affect the perceptions of organizations regarding themselves and towards a co-ordinated disaster management. Hazards and disasters need to be collectively managed while, at the same time, enough leeway has to be provided to encourage individual motivation and initiatives. (Pande, R. K., 2007)

      According to Scarman Centre (2001) the argument is that the safety culture of an organisation embraces the beliefs and outlooks of its members towards safety. The design and construction of a resilient built environment demands an in-depth understanding of the expertise and knowledge on avoiding and mitigating the effects of threats and hazards (Lorch, 2005; Hamelin and Hauke, 2005; Bosher et al., 2006, 2007). Erman, E. (2005) argues that many scholars and practicing architects think that ensuring the implementation of earthquake-resistant designs is primarily the responsibility of the structural engineer, but in reality it is not. In many instances, certain earthquake resistant design requirements are neglected both in architectural education and in practice with the thought that the structural engineer can integrate earthquake provisions in the design later, after the architectural design is completed. Bosher, et al., (2007) observed through an exercise that architects/designers were perceived to be the most important stakeholders from the construction sector who should provide a number of essential inputs into disaster risk management activities. The education system in India has provided many opportunities but most students are not interested in pursuing programmes in life-saving methodologies. Personnel involved in the disaster mitigation exercise have to draw upon knowledge of best practices and resources available to them.

      Furthermore, National Society of Professional Engineers (2008) consider that an ethical engineer is one who avoids conflicts of interest, does not attempt to misrepresent their knowledge so as to accept jobs outside their area of expertise, acts in the best interests of society and the environment, fulfills the terms of their contracts or agreements in a thorough and professional manner, and promotes the education of young engineers within their field.

    5. Education and Training:
    6. Often, after a devastating effect of disaster, the gap between academic knowledge and the correct application of safer construction methods in professional practice becomes painfully apparent. These disasters cause heavy damage to built environment and it could be because there is still some degree of misinformation or ignorance in the application of safety standards and building codes. It has been observed in Indian higher engineering education that, adequate knowledge about disasters is not provided to students especially during their undergraduate education.

      One of the most important factors contributing to the devastating situation is the lack of education and training of architects and engineers in earthquake engineering principles and designs. In most of the architectural institutions, seismic design is not taught at the undergraduate level as a compulsory subject. Rarely a course on earthquake design is taught at the undergraduate level even as an elective (NPCBAERM, 2007). Government of India (2004) identifies that up till now, earthquake engineering was not a part of the undergraduate engineering curriculum which was the reason for the structural engineers not being aware of the elements necessary for earthquake resistant construction. It has been observed that even where bye-laws have been amended to incorporate the BIS codes, these are not being implemented. The reason is that the engineers/architects practicing in private sector are not trained in the relevant codes and neither are the engineers in the regulatory bodies. While these mitigation measures will take care of the new constructions, the problem of unsafe existing buildings stock would still remain.

      According to Government of India (2004)," the information and training on ways to better respond to and mitigate disasters to the responders go a long way in building the capacity and resilience of the country to reduce and prevent disasters. Training is an integral part of capacity building as trained personnel respond much better to different disasters and appreciate the need for preventive measures. The multi-sectoral and multi-hazard prevention based approach to disaster management requires specific professional inputs. Professional training in disaster management should be built into the existing pedagogic research and education."

      David Alexander (2003) states that the one criterion by which a profession is born is the quality and rigour of training received by its adherents, educational standards have a vital role to play in helping the field achieve recognition. Risk and hazard awareness training needs to be integrated systematically into the professional training of architects, planners, engineers, developers, etc.; and the construction sector should embrace and pre-empt regulatory changes regarding resilient construction requirements. Arnold, C. (1992) argues forcibly that "If we are to prevent new calamities, the profession shall have to amend its practices. From the start of professional training a student must be made conscious of the need to see structure as an integral part of the project and not as some nuisance that the structural designer adds to the architectural project...they must not be viewed as mere add-ons". Erman, E. (2005) discovers that unfortunately, practicing architects are not required to be qualified in earthquake-resistant codes which results in a serious deficiency in architects' knowledge about earthquake-resistant design. Seismic design education should not be left to be absorbed during the accumulation of post-graduation experience, nor regarded purely as the province of the engineering profession (Charleson, A. W., 1997).

      The research activities are being coordinated by different ministries depending on the type and level of research. An important role is played by the Universities too in this sector who, besides running programmes on disaster management, also serve as think tanks for the government (cited Sharma, V.K., 2004). India needs a breed of experts and specialists on all the diverse aspects of disaster mitigation and management for which enough space is to be found in our universities and higher institutes of learning, a much broader framework alone can meet the demand for disaster education for all (cited Bhandari, R. K. 2006).

    7. Information(resources):
    8. There is a need to integrate information across many disciplines, organizations, and geographical regions. A comprehensive disaster management system must allow access to many different kinds of information at multiple levels at many points of time. Disaster information involves more than just data and several interconnecting steps are typically required to generate the type of action-oriented products that are needed by the disaster management community (Venkatachary, K.V., et al., 2004). More descriptive, Dengler (2005) defines the benchmarks that a coastal community should fulfill to access the resilient community status as: understand the tsunami hazard, possess the necessary mitigation tools, disseminate information about the tsunami hazard, exchange information with other at-risk areas, and institutionalize planning for disaster management. Son, J et al. (2007) studied the critical factor in increasing coordination in disaster management is not only to provide information to first responders but also to identify and share the core information. Access to core information could substantially improve response effectiveness. Similarly, availability of core information related to buildings and infrastructure systems (such as access to building drawings, availability of hazardous materials, site contamination, current and forecasted work demand, etc.) could substantially improve effectiveness of engineers involved in post-disaster damage assessment.

      Pena-Mora (2005) emphasizes that construction engineers possess valuable information about their projects and the information that can be critical in disaster preparedness as well as response and recovery. The information they posses, he argues, may be the difference between life and death. Similarly, Lloyd Jones (2006) concluded that chartered surveyors, with appropriate training, have key roles to play during all disaster phases, from preparedness to immediate relief, traditional recovery, and long-term reconstruction. Sia, X., Lia, J. and Wan, Z. (2009) assert that timely and updated information reflecting the newest disaster situation is extremely important for effective emergency response and efficient actions. While significant research has been demonstrated on the current research of disaster management, the problem of how to offer timely, even real time data and information to disaster managers and emergency responders is still far from solution. Substantial information already exists that could be used to this end, but there are numerous obstacles to accessing this information, and methods for integrating information from a variety of sources for decision making are presently inadequate. Implementation of an improved national or international network for making better information available in a timelier manner could substantially improve the situation (National Research Council, 1999).

    9. Inappropriate planning:
    10. Dennis S. Mileti (1999) found out that hazard losses, and the fact that there seems to be an inability to reduce such losses, are the consequences of narrow and short-sighted development patterns, cultural premises, and attitudes toward the natural environment, science, and technology. "Theoretically, the planning system attempts to allocate appropriate land for appropriate purposes while taking account of threats to that land, the use of adjoining land and the needs of the local population. Realistically, the role of the planning system-resolving contradictions and deep-rooted conflicts between competing private interests over the use and development of land, on the one hand, and public and community interests over property rights and development priorities, on the other-is an impossible one "(Gillingwater and Ison, 2003, p. 561).

      One way in which emergency managers can become more proactive is by adopting an agenda that encourages the integration of professions from the construction industry. There is currently little commentary from emergency management, construction, or civil defense-related literature on the contribution of the construction industry to the mitigation of natural and human-induced hazards (Bosher, L. et al., 2007). Measures such as the adoption and enforcement of land-use planning practices and building codes must be vigorously pursued if the trend of escalating losses from natural disasters is to be reversed (National Research Council, 1991). Bosher, L. et al., (2007) emphasize if a resilient and sustainable built environment is to be achieved, emergency management should be more proactive and receive greater input from the stakeholders responsible for the planning, design, construction and operation of the built environment.

    11. Legislation and Policies:
    12. Spence (2004) argues that the regulatory side of managing risks from natural hazards, such as statutory building codes, works in some circumstances but tends to reduce risk unevenly. At the same time, such codes are difficult to apply consistently because of their complexity. Nevertheless, legislation is needed to support technical programmes, such as strengthening existing buildings against loads, while insurance schemes have the potential to contribute significantly to mitigation efforts. Initiatives from the construction industry could focus on policy amendments and technical innovations. According to Spence and Kelman (2004), protecting buildings from the threat of natural hazards 'is often regarded as a relatively small part of the task of building sustainably, but it is an important part and that importance is growing.' National Disaster Management of India (2007) states that Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is mandated to develop national codes and practices for design and construction of housing and all infrastructure projects. These codes/documents need to be revised at regular intervals based on change in hazard zonation, building performance in past disasters and outcomes of research projects. It was observed that these codes are not revised periodically even though BIS is expected to do this once in every five years. Country has developed National Building Code (2005) and hazard specific codes of practices and guidelines for about last five decades. In spite of availability of such documents, enforcement mechanism, applicability, and implementation is found most deficient. Existing Town and Country Planning Acts, Master Plans, Area Development Rules and Building Byelaws and Regulations do not address safety requirements of build environment.

      According to Government of India (2002), the country has integrated administrative machinery for management of disasters at the National, State, District, and Sub-District levels. At the national level, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal Ministry for coordination of relief and response and overall natural disaster management, and the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation is the nodal Ministry for drought management. The basic responsibility of undertaking rescue, relief, and rehabilitation measures in the event of natural disasters, as at present, is that of the State Governments concerned. The Central Government supplements the efforts of the States by providing financial and logistic support. Other Ministries are assigned the responsibility of providing emergency support in case of disasters that fall in their purview. The policy arrangements for meeting relief expenditure related to natural disasters are, by and large, based on the recommendations of successive finance commissions. The two main windows presently open for meeting such expenditures are the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) and National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF). Gupta, K (n.d.) highlights India has been following five year national plans, although they are not on a rolling basis. The earlier five year plans did not mention disaster management. The Tenth Five-Year Plan 2002-2007 for the first time had a detailed chapter entitled Disaster Management: The Development Perspective. The plan emphasized the fact that development cannot be sustainable without mitigation being built into the development process. Disaster mitigation and prevention were adopted as essential component of the development strategy. The Eleventh Five Year Plan 2007-2012 (Planning Commission 2008 cited Gupta, K. (n.d.) states, "The development process needs to be sensitive towards disaster prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. Disaster management has therefore emerged as a high priority for the country. Going beyond the historical focus on relief and rehabilitation after the event, there is a need to look ahead and plan for disaster preparedness and mitigation in order to ensure that periodic shocks to our development efforts are minimized." The Eleventh Five Year Plan aims at consolidating the process by giving impetus to projects and programs that develop and nurture the culture of safety and the integration of disaster prevention and mitigation into the development process. Even the best of isolated efforts will not bear fruit unless they are part of an overall, well-considered approach and responsibilities of all stakeholders are clearly spelt out and accountability and sustainability factored in. (Gupta, K., n.d.)

      Ray-Bennett, N. S. (2007) highlights the states like Orissa and Rajasthan have Relief Codes and Maharashtra has a Disaster Management Plan, developed after the 1991 earthquake. Following the Gujarat earthquake the state cabinet quickly passed a state disaster management policy, but this policy is still a discussion document. Even so, there are concerns that this Gujarat policy document might lack a comprehensive view of disasters per se. The Orissa Relief Code (ORC) is the only disaster policy document in Orissa that specifies how administrators identify crisis conditions, how they should respond and when they should do so during a natural calamity (Government of Orissa 1996 cited Ray-Bennett, N. S. 2007). Yet the ineffectiveness of this ORC was clearly demonstrated during the super-cyclone in 1999. Inadequate executive capacity means that in most developing countries, the existing urban development, and planning regulations are not enforced (Ray-Bennett, N. S. 2007).

      Metri, B. A. 2006 recognizes the other major problem is the nature of development and development policies. The actual reason for the flooding in Rajasthan was not the quantum of rainfall but the way in which civic structures had come up, violating basic laws, in the past two decades. Experts blamed the floods on faulty development planning. The legislation should include clear definitions of what constitutes a disaster at a national level. However, there certainly is a pressing need for improvement and strengthening of existing institutional arrangements and systems in this regard to make the initial response to a disaster more effective and professional.


    Disasters are part of the nature and it is inevitable in our life. Depending on the various countries and its geographic features ranging from miles of coastlines, rivers, mountains, and deserts; nature and extent of natural disasters may vary. From the data, it seems that the frequency and impact of disasters is greater in the poor and developing countries. Moreover, these countries are among those which are often affected by various types of disasters. The developing countries like India are less able to deal with the causes and impacts of disasters. The management of natural disasters involves huge amount of research and prediction of disasters. Disaster prediction may be based on the past history of disaster occurrence, and area prone to a particular natural disaster. Disaster management is a purposeful activity implement to reduce and manage effects of disaster before and after the disaster strikes. Among all phases of disaster management the phase of recovery, may create the window of opportunity for the implementation of mitigation measures. Various mitigation measures can be executed very effectively after the disaster, as the memories of disaster are fresh in people mind, and they are ready to accept the mitigation changes. But mitigation seems to be very cost effective steps in disaster management, as it always involves reconstruction and rehabilitation. The most basic and primary step in relief and recovery after disaster is to reinstate the livelihoods of the affected people. Planning and better coordination in all relief activities are necessary for smooth working and to avoid misunderstanding in affected people. Most of the time people react after the disaster happens, but early awareness in society might not change the occurrence and magnitude of disaster, but will help in mitigating its impact on society and nature. Though researcher and authors are insisting, mitigation, and preparedness as a very effective phase in disaster management cycle, the result was not purposefully used in the practical field. For successful implementation of disaster mitigation and preparedness measures it is very necessary to have coordination and integration of activities and governing organizations.

    Contribution of construction industry in disaster management process is necessary, as the importance of critical role of the professionals in handling the disaster event is recognized by disaster management. The research done by various authors, experts indicate the need of expertise, knowledge, and involvement in disaster management. There is an urgent need to understand the hazards, possess the necessary mitigation tools, disseminate information, exchange knowledge with other at-risk areas, and institutionalize planning for disaster management. This concept will be really very practical and ideological, as the construction sector professionals have better understanding of the behavior of built environment. It has been observed that lack of awareness and knowledge were the main reasons behind the lack of implementation of mitigation and preparedness measures.

    Disaster policies and management form a patchwork in India and are usually put in place after the event. Policies for disaster also need to be designed with the purpose of generating preparedness among the potential victims especially in states which are the most prone to disasters. Although government actions and legislated building standards can reduce vulnerability, the key stakeholders of construction sector also need to act to limit damage. The construction sector professionals can prepare for a natural disaster by ensuring that the buildings meet or exceed the relevant building standards and that they have provisions for survival after a disaster. Individuals can also choose to live in safer buildings and in safer geographical locations. Erman, E. (2005) observed in many instances, certain earthquake resistant design requirements are neglected both in architectural education and in practice with the thought that the structural engineer can integrate earthquake provisions in the design later, after the architectural desig