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Tackling disasters: Maharashtra govt prepares to draw fresh vulnerability map of districts

Area-wise intensity and socio-economic consequences to be made available on GIS platform.

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai |
October 27, 2015 1:32:09 am

In a bid to effectively address droughts, unseasonal rains, hailstorms, landslides and security concerns, the Maharashtra government will map vulnerability of all districts to natural and man-made disasters. The area-wise intensity and socio-economic consequences will be available on a web platform.

The last time the state government conducted a vulnerability assessment of hazards and risks was 20 years ago in 1994-95 with the help of World Bank. Officials say that the situation has vastly changed since then. Moreover, the old data is not readily available on the website, and hence, government departments had not relied on it extensively for planning.

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Suhas Divse, director of the state’s disaster management cell, said, “This kind of data will help not only in preparing disaster management plans and mitigation measures, but also prove very useful in overall planning for development and infrastructure, especially because it is on a Geographic Information System. For example, even for a small project such as sanctioning of a borewell, authorities will have immediate information about existing borewells and groundwater level.”

Divse added that vulnerability to crisis situations depends on factors such as development, poverty, population density, education, main occupations and geographic location among others and these factors have vastly changed in the last few years, making a fresh assessment a necessity.

The government plans to conduct a pilot exercise in Pune district where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has agreed to help, and has shortlisted agencies through a global tender to carry out the work. The pilot project is expected to take about eight months, post which the government will scale up the project for the entire state in two phases, covering the 14 most vulnerable districts in the first.

“We decided to pick Pune district as our pilot because of its complexity. The district has a large number of urban and rural areas and also a significant amount of agricultural activities. It is also known to be prone to disasters such as floods, landslides, terror attacks, industrial accidents and water scarcity,” Divse said.

The government also plans to involve personnel of the Pune-based Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration in the exercise, so that the UNDP can train them to monitor the survey in other districts.

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