In accordance with the recommendations of the XIV Finance Commission (FC) to bring objectivity in resource allocation and take note of disaster risk faced by the states the XV FC developed the disaster risk index (DRI) through a quantitative exercise wherein scores were assigned to the probability of hazards striking the states together with the extent of their vulnerability. Based on these two parameters, a composite score was developed for each state, leading to an index which ranks states based on their risk scores.
Hazards refer to physical events; earthquake, cyclone, floods, drought and others. Harmless otherwise, when hazards interact with people, their communities, and economic activities, these result in a disaster incidences. This interaction of hazards, and society is influenced by the socio-economic vulnerability of the people.
Vulnerability refers to the capacity of an individual or group to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of a hazard. Vulnerability includes both income, and non-income dimensions, and could encompass conditions such as poor housing, informal jobs, social isolation and remote terrains in which the people live. Vulnerability is, therefore, a key factor explaining the severity and impact of a disaster.
Hazard zonation, and risk exposure maps prepared earlier by various agencies were utilised by the XV FC to assign scores to the probability of hazards at the state level. This categorisation provided a state-level hazard score which can be easily understood.
It is important to note that the XV FC could have attempted to develop a risk scenario based on actual occurrences of disasters, and their socio- economic impacts rather than utilising the previous studies. This would have certainly resulted in a much more refined risk scenario. Ones conversant with disaster database would however agree that in the absence of a uniform disaster database at the national level, developing a risk index of greater complexity and accuracy would have been difficult.
As disaster takes place by the amalgamation of hazards, and vulnerability, a score of 70, out of a total of 100, was assigned to hazards, since these are the main drivers of disasters. In addition, any hazard event is likely to have a differential impact based on population density, level of infrastructure, and economic activities in the affect area. Vulnerability, captured through geographical area, and population was, thus assigned a lower score of 30.
The XV FC primarily considered four major hazards that affect different parts of the country; floods, drought, cyclone, and earthquake assigning a maximum score of 15 to each of these four hazards, constituting a total of 60. Depending upon the level of probability of a hazard, states were assigned the scores of 0, 5, 10 and 15 in an increasing order. In addition, all states have their share of smaller hazards, which affect communities on a local basis. In view of their continuous impacts, all the states were assigned an equal score of 10 for these smaller hazards, bringing the maximum score to 70.
- The XV FC compiled flood related data from the estimates of flood-prone areas by Rashtriya Barh Ayog (RBA), and the extent of flood-prone areas reported by the states to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan Working Group. Based on this proportion of the state’s geographical area affected by floods was estimated.
- States with more than 20% flood affected area were assigned a score of 15.
- States with 10-20% were assigned a score of 10.
- The remaining states with less than 10% flood affected area were assigned a score of 5.
It is important to note out here that despite flood-affected area being less than 10% the XV FC considered Arunachal Pradesh a high flood-prone state in view of regular flooding of the state by river Brahmaputra that is known as river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh. Another exception was Tamil Nadu that has experienced heavy floods in the recent past, and was thus assigned a score of 10.
It is important to note that the XV FC could not compile flood related data for Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. However taking note of the dense network of rivers, and being often affected by floods including massive floods of 2013 Uttarakhand was assigned a high score of 15. On the other hand, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh that are not known for heavy flooding were assigned a lower score of 5.
The XV FC admitted all the hill states as being affected by floods, but at the same time recognised these as being short duration flash floods, and therefore these states were not considered as being exposed to the risk of riverine flooding.
- About 68% of cropped area of the nation is vulnerable to drought, of which 33% receives less than 750 mm of mean annual rainfall, and is classified as “chronically drought-prone.”
- 35% of the cropped area which receives mean annual rainfall of 750-1125 mm is classified as being “drought-prone.”
- The drought-prone areas of the country are confined primarily to the arid, semi-arid, and sub- humid regions of peninsular and western India.
- States with larger share of “chronically drought-prone” areas were assigned a higher score of 15.
- States with a significant share of “drought-prone areas” were assigned the middle score of 10.
- The remaining states, except for the states in the North-East, Uttarakhand and Goa were assigned a score of 5.
It is worth noting that some states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh fall in high risk category for both flood, and drought. These states have large geographical area, and therefore despite some areas receiving good rainfall, and having dense river network, other areas fall in arid, and semi-arid regions.
The XV FC admitted that climate change or variability would have a major influence on the occurrence of flood, and drought, and some states in the arid, and semi-arid regions have already started experiencing short duration heavy rainfall resulting in floods.
Rajasthan experienced heavy flooding in certain areas in recent times. On the other hand, northern Bihar has experienced drought in recent years. Bihar has in fact experienced deficient rainfall during eight out of previous ten years. Similarly, the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh has been reeling under drought for years together. Attributed to variability in intra seasonal rainfall, this was recognized as being a major cause of distress, particularly in rural areas.
The XV FC noted that simultaneous incidences of floods, and drought represent a highly dynamic situation, and should be perceived as part of changing patterns of rainfall. The XV FC therefore recommended that climate change induced hazard, and risk scenario be assessed on a continuous basis.
- Cyclone hazard is mainly confined to the coastal states.
- Amongst these the highest score of 15 was assigned to Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal, which include very high cyclone-prone districts.
- Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Gujarat that include high cyclone-prone districts were assigned a score of 10.
- Though Kerala does not include any high cyclone prone district, all its fourteen districts are exposed to cyclone risk, and therefore Kerala was also assigned a score of 10.
- The remaining states of Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra were assigned a moderate score of 5.
The XV FC noted that cyclones on the east, and west coast are becoming more frequent due to the impact of climate change, which is changing the risk profile of these states.
The XV FC has therefore recommended that these scores be reviewed on a periodic basis.
- According to the Seismic Zonation Map of India Zone V, and Zone IV are categorised as high risk areas.
- Zone III, and Zone II are categorised as low seismic risk areas.
- According to this map, all the North-East, and Himalayan states together with Bihar, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are highly prone to earthquake risks. These states were therefore assigned the highest score of 15.
- West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh that are exposed to moderate seismic risks were assigned the score of 10.
- The remaining states were assigned low risk score of 5.
The XV FC accepted that in addition to these four hazards, there existed a residual category of other hazards that includes state-specific hazards such as landslides, windstorms, hailstorm, cloudbursts, lightning, and others.
Recognising that all the states do have their share of minor hazards, which have considerable local impacts, all the states were assigned a uniform score of 10.
- XV FC assigned the vulnerability score on the basis of below poverty line (BPL) population of the states in 2011-12 (Tendulkar Methodology).
- States with a poverty rate of 26% and above were assigned the highest score of 30.
- States with poverty rate below 13% were given a score of 10.
- Rest of the states having poverty rates between 13% and 26% were assigned the intermediate score of 20.
The XV FC added the scores for hazards, and vulnerability to determine the risk score for each state, and to arrive at final DRI for each state.