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Disaster is a sudden calamitous event producing great material damage loss and distress according to Webstar dictionary. It refers to any odd event generally arising with little or no warning. It brings about sudden and immense miseries to humanity in terms of loss of life or property or both. Disaster is the consequence of any natural event often termed as hazard. A hazard becomes a disaster when it occurs in an area affecting its normal life system. 

Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as the provision of health care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communications. The interruption can seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a significant negative impact. 

Disaster can be classified into types, Natural and Manmade. Natural disasters are result of any natural hazards. It include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, volcano eruptions, etc, that can have immediate impacts on human health, as well as secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from floods causing landslides, earthquakes resulting in fires, tsunamis causing widespread flooding and typhoons sinking ferries. Manmade disaster have an human element as a cause factor like wars, battle, accidents, fires, deforestation, pollution, erosion, etc. 

These are activities designed to provide permanent protection from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. 

Punjab is vulnerable to 21 types of hazards out of 33 identified by the High Powered Committee (HPC) of Government of India into 5 sub-groups. Apart to identified hazard by HPC, state has high impact of Groundwater and Surface water Pollution, depletion of groundwater level and cancer epidemic which needs to be addressed as hazard

A major part of geographical area of the state is prone to floods although substantial part has been protected through flood control measures. The Water table is rising in South-western district s of the state due to limited or non-extraction of groundwater because of blackish/saline quality, which makes it unfit for domestic, irrigation and other purposes which causes water logging.

Punjab has experienced drought due to inadequate rain in Monsoon. The State was experienced drought in 1978, 1979, 1985, 1987, 2002 and 2004, both in rural and urban areas. In 1987, a major drought was experienced in the State but in 2002, the intensity of the drought has made the situation much more acute and has broken the back of the farming community. The State Government declared all the 17 districts in the State as drought affected.

A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report states that about 12% of Punjab state suffers from the threat of desertification. The Punjab is facing very serious problem of soil erosion by water. It is serious menace in the Shivaliks and Kandi region, along the river courses, streams and choes and in the south western arid and hot region. In this seismic zoning map, most of the area of Punjab State lies in Zone III and IV. However, northern boundary of Punjab State with Himachal Pradesh is in close proximity to Zone V. According to the Building Material & Technology Promotion Council, 1997, 48.6% area of the state is vulnerable to Intensity VIII and 45.6% area to Intensity VII.

Occasionally Punjab witnesses hailstorms which cause huge damages to the standing crops, Gales, Lightening, Squall, Thunderstorm, Heat Wave, Cold Wave, Dustorm etc. Punjab is also prone to industrial disasters. In 2009 37 people lost their lives in industrial disasters whereas 14 were lost in 2010. There are 60 Maximum Accident Hazard Units are found in Punjab. Punjab also witnessed structure and crop fires.


No. of villages/towns affected, human lives and Cattle lost due to floods during the Rainy Season in Punjab

Year

No. of villages/town affected

Area affected (in Sq. km.)

Population affected (No.)

Human lives lost (No.)

Cattle heads lost (No.)

1980

1,191

489

85,724

44

117

1990

755

471

90,465

13

275

2000

81

127

319

5

88

2014

553

322

399211

17

81

2015

464

15674

41259

3

19

2016

37

5477

20293

6

2

2017

-

7.13

10

-

5

The minor differences are due to rounding of figures.

Source: Financial Commissioner (R), Punjab as cited in Statistical Abstract of Punjab 2018

Damage caused to Crops, Houses and Public utilities during Rainy Season in Punjab

Year

Damage caused to area under crops (hect.)

Percentage of damaged area to total cropped area

Value of crops damaged (Rs. ‘000)

Houses damages

Damage to public utilities (Rs. ‘000)

Total damage caused to crops houses and public utilities (Rs. ‘000)

 

 

 

 

N o.

Value

(Rs. ‘000)

 

 

1980

48,930

0.72

6,559

31,940

4,391

201

11,151

1990

47,078

9.75

2,51,086

11,062

53,428

29,000

3,33,514

2000

12,620

0.16

77,116

9

800

2700

80,616

2014

22465

0.03

389420

28838

138534

42393

5,70,347

2015

71204

0.90

886054

123

1885

-

887939

2016

2574

0.03

14577

149

1414

324

16315

2017

1793

0.02

246

58

2872

-

3118


Source: Financial Commissioner (R), Punjab as cited in Statistical Abstract of Punjab 2018
 

Mitigation and Preparedness Plan

The State Plan for preparedness and mitigation attempts to protect the lives and properties of the people of Punjab from potentially devastating hazards. Structural Mitigation and Non-Structural Mitigation measures are suggested in the preparedness and mitigation plan. Structural mitigation includes retrofitting, afforestation, multi-purpose dams, watershed management, and improvement in drainage efficiency, desiltation of stream beds, check on encroachment, and check on disposal, improving the Capacities of Bridges/Aqueducts, intra and inter-State Coordination, water harvesting measures, etc. Non-Structural Mitigation includes Sensitization/Awareness Campaigns, Training and Capacity Building, Flood Plain zoning, Flood Proofing, Flood Fighting, Early Warning and Dissemination System, etc. 


Punjab State Disaster Action Plan