National Disaster Risk Index: Maharashtra most vulnerable among states, Delhi among UTs

Date: June 12, 2018

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Maharashtra has been ranked at the top of the list of Indian states, vulnerable to natural disasters, followed by West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, according to the National Disaster Risk Index.Among the Union Territories, Delhi is the most vulnerable to such disasters.

The index does not talk about the possibility of a natural disaster, but the economic vulnerability of the region and the steps taken by the administration to mitigate the risks.

At first glance, the lower hazard ranking to states like those in the north-east and others like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, which are prone to earthquakes or floods, seems surprising but the index takes into account economic vulnerabilities and actions taken to mitigate risk.
The index factors in exposure of population, agriculture and livestock and environmental risk in drawing up the rankings. The top three states are followed by Rajasthan, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar while those vulnerable to disasters like cyclones, landslides and earthquakes, like Andhra Pradesh and hill states, are relatively lower in the index.
Some states have made significant progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR) by building resilient infrastructure and investing in early warning systems. Capacity building by Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh has lowered their net risk to population and economic losses.

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The index is currently in the form of a draft report prepared by the Union home ministry with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
States like UP, MP and Rajasthan are considered high-risk states despite facing lower natural hazard possibilities due to high vulnerability and low capacity-building, the report notes. The report has also separately ranked states on just hazard, exposure and vulnerability indexes. These will be used to prepare a composite disaster scorecard, the first of its kind by any country.
The idea of a DSC is to have a "comprehensive assessment of hazards, vulnerabilities and risks of disasters at different levels, prevention of new risks and mitigation of existing risks, and mainstreaming DRR across different sectors of development".
This national disaster risk index is also in line with India’s commitment to the Sendai Framework, successor to the Hyogo Framework, where it has to substantially bring down disaster losses in terms of lives and properties. The government is simultaneously working on a disaster database which will capture nationwide losses due to disasters on a digital platform.