The history of disasters in Karnataka reveals that a series of various types of disasters that have struck the State over the years with devastating effects. Years 2005 and 2006 have seen devastating floods in the Districts of Gulbarga, Belgaum, Bijapur, Bidar, Bagalkot, Raichur etc., as a result of outflow of excess water from the Krishna and Bhima Basins from Maharashtra particularly from Koyna Reservoir. These floods have affected 12 lakh people, 20,000 houses (damaged), 1.6 Lakhs hectares crops (damaged). The assessment of loss on account of damage due to floods was estimated at Rs. 1565 Crores. Other districts namely Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Mangalore, Shimoga, Kodagu, Chikkamagalur have also faced flood damages.
Seismic observatories in Mysore, Somwarpet Taluk, Chincholi Taluk including a permanent station at Gulbarga are set up to monitor the magnitude of seismic waves in Karnataka. 11 districts in the state namely Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Dharwad, Uttar Kannada, Shimaoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu are falling under seismic zone III. A total 42.173 Lakh hectares (22.13%) of the total geographical area of Karnataka is under moderate earthquake damage risk zone III (MSK VII) & remaining area of the state is under low damage risk zone.
Major part of the state falls under severe drought. The state has declared 102 taluks as drought affected and Rs.500 Crores loss was assessed in 2006. Districts of Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada are facing frequent landslides as these hilly regions record a very high normal rainfall of 2000mm to 4000mm. Coastal erosion is also causing havoc in the three coastal districts of Districts of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi along 322 kms of coastal length. The coastline exposes the state to cyclones, storm surges and coastal erosion.
As against the annual average rainfall of 830.5 mm in Bangalore Urban district, 568.5 mm, which is 75% of the average annual rainfall, occurred in a period of two months in September and October, 2005. An excess of 289.2 mm rainfall is reported in just 3 days, As per the assessment report of Bangalore Urban District, 3 persons died, 7491 houses collapsed and 10,000 houses were inundated. Apart from these effects, about 253 tanks were overflowing and basic infrastructure such as water supply, roads, bridges, electricity, telephones etc., were cut off in most parts.
It became clear that the main need for the state is to have a Disaster Management Policy and Plan to guide all aspects of disaster management (including pre-disaster preparedness, post-disaster response, short and medium-term physical reconstruction, social rehabilitation and long-term disaster mitigation).
Cyclones, Winds and Coastal Erosion:
Karnataka state has been confronting various natural hazards. The coastal districts namely Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada with a coastal line of 322 kms and coastal population of 43.64 Lakhs are under the direct threat of cyclones and severe cyclones originating in Arabian Sea and indirect attack of cyclones originating along the Eastern coastline. The high density of population along the coastline of Karnataka has made the population highly vulnerable to the storm surge and high speed wind accompanied with cyclone. Any severe cyclone along the eastern coastline causes heavy rainfall in the interior Karnataka region resulting in damages to crops, buildings, infrastructure services such as roads and often the impact would be severe disruption in the socio-economic life in these regions. It is important to note that infrastructure such as rail and road networks which are adjacent to the sea coast are constantly threatened by the erosion caused by giant sea waves particularly during storm surges and cyclones The state is incurring huge expenditure almost every year on prevention of coastal erosion for the 350 Kms of coastal line. The State has been placed under Category (II) A – Low Vulnerability along with other states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Out of total geographical area of 190.238 Lakh ha, about 44.92 lakh ha area covering 15 districts and 50 taluks is affected by winds and cyclones which is falling under moderate risk zone (Vs=39m/s) and remaining area falls under low damage risk zone (33m/s).
Apart from coastal erosion, the coastal areas are facing disasters such as boat capsizing due to extreme weather conditions in the sea. The recent boats capsize on 29th May, 2006 at Malpe Port at Udupi and Oil spillages at Karwar Port are a few examples. The incident of Boat capsizing on 29th May, 2006 has lead to a loss of property of Rs. 1.34 Crores and death of 6 fishermen. The Oil spillage incident near Karwar Port is a different experience in Karnataka as it happened for the first time on 30th May, 2006.
These coastal areas are surrounded by western Ghats, west flowing rivers, high rain fall, Konkan railway running close to sea, land bars between sea and rivers with minimum road link between land bars and main land, higher coastal population density with most of the coastal area at the mean sea level.
Almost all the districts in Karnataka are facing the brunt of moderate to severe floods. Floods are associated with cloud bursts, cyclones or depressions in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea. Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkote, Raichur, Gulbarga, Shimaoga, Chikkamagalur, Udupi, Coorg, Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, Dharwad, Davanagere, Gadag, Hassan, Uttara Kannada, Koppal, Bidar, Bangalore ( R ), Bangalore(U), Kolar, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar. In the North Karnataka region covering the Krishna and Godavari Basins, even when the state was suffering under drought like conditions, heavy discharges from Maharashtra caused floods. The floods in the Districts of Gulbarga, Belgaum, Bijapur, Bidar, Bagalkot, Raichur etc., as a result of outflow of excess water from the Krishna and Bhima Basins from Maharashtra have affected 12 lakh people leaving behind 20,000 damaged houses, 1.6 Lakhs hectares of damaged crops in 2006 and 2005. Cities are facing floods causing severe damages to infrastructure services and loss of life.
Disaster Management authority:
Karnataka State has the distinction of being first in the country to establish a Drought Monitoring Cell (DMC) in 1988 as an institutional mechanism affiliated to Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of Karnataka. Subsequently in 2007, the DMC was renamed as Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) and the activities were broadened to also include monitoring of other natural disasters viz., Floods, Hailstorms, Gale-Winds, Storm-surges, Earthquakes, Landslides, Tsunamis etc
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