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Info Change India - Disasters

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Disasters : Background & Perspective

By Vinod C Menon and Shirish Kavad

India is the worst-affected theatre of disaster in the South Asian region. Drought, floods, earthquakes and cyclones devastate the country with grim regularity. More than 11,000 lives were lost in the December 2004 tsunami, 10,000 were killed in the Orissa supercyclone of 1999, and 16,000 died in the earthquake that hit Kutch in January 2001. Are these natural disasters caused by nature's fury? Or are they man-made in large measure? Is the country equipped to manage the disasters that affect 25 million people every year?

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'With the Kosi embankments we have tied a snake around our necks'

By Rashme Sehgal

The Kosi has always flooded, says water and disaster management expert Dinesh Kumar Mishra, but it has never caused such devastation. In this interview he explains why structural measures will never provide a foolproof solution against floods and why we should go back to traditional wisdom and allow people to live with the floods

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Everybody loves a good flood

By Darryl D'Monte

Although the intensity of floods has been increasing, it is not primarily due to deforestation. It is the failure of the so-called modern world to come to terms with this natural phenomenon that is aggravating the situation. As long ago as 1937, the chief engineer of Bihar, Captain G F Hall, said that by building embankments "we are storing disaster for the future"

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Islands of disconnect

By Sharmila Joshi

Why does the Indian media cover Hurricane Katrina in detail, but bury news of floods in rural Maharashtra? If the argument is that coverage is allocated according to what 'affects' and is 'relevant' to the reader, it is based on the dangerous assumption that the world consists of disconnected islands

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Katrina or Cassandra?

By Darryl D'Monte

Last year, weather-related losses crossed $100 billion for the first time, and 30 million ecological refugees were displaced by drought, flood or other environment-related causes. Whether it's New Orleans or Mumbai, the lessons are virtually identical, as climate change intensifies across the globe

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When it rains, it pours: Why we should be concerned about climate change

By Aditi Sen

The increasing occurrence of extreme weather conditions, such as the recent deluge in Mumbai, points to a dangerous threat - climate change. This is the first of a series of articles on human-induced climate change

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Valleys in despair: Beyond the reopening of Kedarnath Yatra

By Sunandita Mehrotra

Though the Kedarnath route has been reopened, major issues of rehabilitation and basic survival are being neglected: thousands of families still have no clue how to manage basic livelihoods in the region

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How not to manage disaster relief

By Ravleen Kaur

Victims of last year’s flash floods in Leh find little use for the costly prefabricated rooms they were provided as disaster relief under CSR schemes. Their breath turned to ice in them. They have begun to rebuild their mud homes which insulate them against the extreme cold

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Famine-like conditions in Aila-affected areas

By Somnath Mukherji

In its continuing coverage of the cyclone-affected Sunderbans, Infochange finds some 700 families in the K-plot island close to starvation. Nothing grows here any more, and rice is priced at Rs 22/kg. Villagers are desperate for work under NREGS

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'Give us food or jail us'

By Panchali Ray

Four months after Cyclone Aila, surveys reveal that only 1.38 kg of foodgrain are being distributed per adult per month, against a Famine Code requirement of 12 kg per head. No compensation for destroyed homes is forthcoming yet, and little work is being provided under NREGS. There is a dangerous unrest growing at state apathy, according to this special report from affected districts in West Bengal

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Kosi tragedy poses serious livelihood challenge

By Anosh Malekar

Five months after the Kosi deluge of August 2008, fields remain waterlogged, boats are still plying in paddy fields and thousands have lost their livelihoods as their cultivable lands have been permanently ruined. Around 500,000 people are believed to have migrated in search of livelihood

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The politics after the flood

By Rashme Sehgal

While the Centre and the Bihar state wrangle over who should repair the destroyed embankments, those displaced by the recent floods seem destined to spend the winter in the relief camps

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After the flood

By Rashme Sehgal

A large majority of the flood-affected at Behli and other camps set up by the administration in Bihar are women and children. Our correspondent travelled to the worst-affected districts in Bihar to find out how the administration is coping with a disaster that has affected 3 million

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Letter from Dhaka: Year of the rats

By Khademul Islam

The bamboo has flowered, rats have invaded the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The indigenous people here are suffering severe food shortages. Around 600,000 have left their homes in search of food

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A lot more boats but very little fish

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Three years after the tsunami there are a lot more boats in areas affected by the disaster. But yields are low and there's a new fear of the sea

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Wanted: Post-disaster housing audit

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Three years after the tsunami, hundreds of ugly cement houses have been built along the Nagapattinam coast by different NGOs. Many are sub-standard, some actually below sea level, many unoccupied. Why do we keep repeating the mistakes of Latur, Gujarat, Orissa?

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Falling off the map: Orissa's submerged villages

By Richard Mahapatra

In 1930, land records show an area of 320 sq km for the Satabhaya cluster of seven villages near Paradip in Orissa. Land records for 2000 indicate that this area has been reduced to 155 sq km. Five of the seven villages have been swallowed by the sea. Several other villages in Orissa are likely to suffer the same fate. Is Orissa paying the price of climate change? This special series by Richard Mahapatra investigates

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Sea levels are rising: People's perceptions and scientific projections

By Richard Mahapatra

Are Orissa's coastal villages paying the price of global warming? The scientific community studying Orissa's tryst with disasters is polarised on the issue. But most scientists agree that the state's geographical location at the head of the Bay of Bengal, with a landlocked sea and a deltaic plain, makes the state extremely vulnerable to rises in sea level caused by global warming

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Death of the seasons

By Richard Mahapatra

The people of Orissa have given a clear verdict: from the number of seasons to the mating habits of birds, they say everything has changed as a result of climate change

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Ready for change

By Freny Manecksha

Village vignettes from the two-month-long padayatra that wound its way through drought-affected regions of Maharashtra

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