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Understanding Man-Made Disasters

Understanding Man-Made Disasters
$23.20$29.00  [ 20% off ]
Item Code: NAG409
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Open University
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788126634231
Pages: 196
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 11.5 inch X 8 inch
weight of the book: 430 gms

About the Book


In the previous course (MPA001), we have studied Natural Disasters. In this course, we shall deal with man-made disasters.


The difference between natural and man-made disaster lies in the source of disaster, that is, whether the hazard is of natural origin or arises from human activities. The human activities that give rise to hazards are not always anti-people or nefarious. The industrial and technological advances (space shuttle, refineries, nuclear power plants etc.) are indeed for human progress and comfort yet the character and composition of these industrial and technological wonders make them the agents of potential disasters. Similarly, development processes (so essential for human well being and progress especially for the people in developing nations) have in them the seeds of man-made disasters. Numerous examples can be cited like excessive use of fertilizers or over irrigation or large dams in seismic regions. Deployment of fast means of transport leads to accidents on roads, rivers, seas and air. These are all the results of well-intentioned human activities. Of course, man-made disasters occur due to anti social activities as well. The current spate of terrorism worldwide is the prime example of this type of man-made disasters.


Man-made disasters have come to stay as part of human existence now and the society has to understand these and learn to deal with them. We need to take stock of the present position of the system(s) in place to deal with them and also visualise what more can be done to avoid them and to reduce the severity of their impact. This course is an effort in this direction.


Unit 1: Understanding Man-Made Disasters

In this Unit, we shall discuss the meaning and nature of man-made disasters. It will be emphasised that although such disasters can trace their origin to varied causes, predictability is nil in case of almost all types of man-made disasters. The Unit will list the different types of such disasters and the prominent categories will be briefly discussed in a general manner leaving detailed discussion for the subsequent units in this course. The adverse effects of man-made disasters and typical post-disaster needs will be presented along with risk reduction and confidence building measures. The general concerns confronting the management of man-made disasters will also be discussed.


Unit 2: Nuclear Disasters

Nuclear Disasters can take many forms ranging from nuclear explosions, reactor accidents, theft of radioactive material leak during transport and defective disposal of radioactive waste material. The impacts of a nuclear disaster can be exceedingly disastrous - to put it mildly. In fact there is little that the people themselves can do to escape a nuclear disaster, should it happen. There are specialised government agencies who have the expertise and are charged with the responsibility. Even then, the people should have an awareness of this most dangerous hazard which will deserve greater attention with the increase in Nuclear Power Plants in the coming years. Moreover, nuclear disasters can have adverse impacts across national boundaries and even globally. Therefore. this Unit will discuss the causes and impacts of nuclear disasters, explain the system of management and highlight the lessons learnt on the basis of past disasters.

Unit 3: Chemical Disasters


Chemical Disaster implies a disaster caused by chemical hazards. A chemical disaster can take the form of a massive industrial accident involving chemical agents. In an industrialising or industrialised society, there is no dearth of centres of production, storage, distribution and utilisation of corrosive and dangerous chemicals.


This Unit will discuss the causes and impacts of chemical disasters and explain the essential points of preparedness and response activities for mitigation of chemical disasters. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy of December 1984 will be discussed bringing out the lessons learnt. The essential aspects of chemical disaster management plan will be highlighted.


Unit 4: Biological Disasters

A biological disaster is a disaster which causes sickness and fatalities in human beings and animals at mass scale when they come in contact with biological hazards in the form of living organisms such as, bacteria, virus, fungi, etc. Destruction of crops and plantations through such agents also falls under the category of biological disasters. All communicable diseases and epidemics are potential biological disasters.


In this Unit, we shall describe the causes and adverse effects of biological disasters and suggest risk reduction and preparedness measures.


Unit 5: Building Fire

Among all disasters, building fires are perhaps the most common place but take a disproportionately large toll of lives and property. It is said that fire is a good servant but a bad master and once out of control, it spares no one. Furthermore, fire loss is a total loss because what bums never returns. This Unit will deal with the causes and impacts of building fires and describe their various types. The safety and preventive measures that can protect us from building fires will be discussed. Government policy (including Building Codes) in respect of precautions against fire hazards in buildings will be explained.


Unit 6: Coal Fire

India has abundant reserves of coal and uses it for its energy needs. At present, over 60 per cent of India's power generation is coal based. Furthermore, coal mining industry employs around 6.5 lakh workers directly and supports around a crore persons indirectly. Coal not only bums when lighted on purpose, it can also suffer spontaneous ignition in large storage and inside coal mines. The latter is the cause of coal mine fires. This Unit will explain this phenomenon and how it turns into a disaster. The causes and impacts of coal fire in India will be described and the coal fire disaster management practices will be explained.


Unit 7 Forest Fire

India's forests are a diminishing entity due to various reasons (explained later in Unit 11). Even this dwindling asset of forests in the country often suffers from forest fires which the nation can i 11- afford. This Unit will explain the characteristics of forest fires and discuss the various causes. The far-reaching impacts of forest fires not only on forests but also on the environment and society will be discussed. The prevention, detection and suppression methods used in controlling forest fires will be described and the role of the central and state governments in prevention and control of forest fires will be highlighted.


Unit 8 Oil Fire

It can be stated without fear of contradiction that oil fire is most certainly the worst of fire disasters. The production, refining, storage, distribution and use of petroleum products are perhaps the most frequent and dangerous fire episodes that can take place right from home kitchen to refineries and oil excavation sites. This Unit will explain the problem of oil fires in India and describe the causes and impacts of oil fires. Lessons learnt from past disasters will also brought out. Oil fire disaster management practices followed in India will be discussed, and some suggestions will be made to improve upon these on the basis of the lessons learnt.


Unit 9 Air Pollution

Air pollution is an increasingly significant environmental problem not only in urban areas but it is now spreading to smaller towns and even the countryside. This fast spreading menace, that is Air Pollution, is fast turning into an ecological disaster almost everywhere in the world but much more so in highly populated and economically backward developing societies which are trying to industrialise themselves. This Unit will begin by describing the status of air pollution in India and will explain the nature and origin of various air pollutants. This will also bring out the causes and impacts of air pollution. The air quality management strategies and the air quality standards will be discussed.


Unit 10: Water Pollution

Water is so essential for human existence - not only for drinking, cooking, cleaning and cooling but also for industrial production and navigation. With the increase in population specially in urban areas and the rapid industrialisation, water sources are getting increasingly polluted to the extent that most of the water from natural sources is unfit for human consumption. This Unit will bring out the significance and importance of pure water and discuss the various resources of water in India before highlighting the causes of water pollution. Water quality characteristics and water quality standards will also be discussed.


Unit 11 Deforestation

Forests are an important part of the biosphere and are crucial to plant, animal and human life on earth. India, as such, lacks adequate forest cover because forests cover only about 22 per cent of our total land base of this rather low forest cover, about 41 per cent is already degraded mainly due to deforestation of varying degree. This Unit will describe the status of deforestation in India and discuss its causes and impacts in detail. The disaster management aspects of deforestation will be explained bringing out the remedial measures to arrest deforestation disaster.


Unit 12 Industrial Wastewater Pollution

The rapid industrialisation has brought forth the problem of industrial effluents adding further to the malady of water pollution. As all industries use water for some purpose or the other, industrial wastewater pollution is a major hazard often leading to disaster situations. The industrial effluents are as varied as the nature of industries themselves and so there cannot be one standard solution for the problem. This Unit will describe the concept of industrial wastewater pollution and discuss the characteristics of industrial effluents. The national scenario of industrial wastewater pollution will be described explaining the likely disastrous impacts. Treatment options for industrial effluents in general and some industry-specific treatment schemes will be presented.


Unit 13 Road Accidents

Road accidents in India have reached menacing proportions and roads and highways are no longer hazardous but they are definitely disaster-prone. This Unit will describe the road accident scenario in the country and discuss its causes and impacts. The disaster management aspects of road accidents will be discussed explaining the statutory provisions. Steps required to improve the safety culture on roads will be highlighted.


Unit 14 Rail Accidents

India has a very extensive rail network and rail accidents do occur. This Unit will describe the causes and impacts of rail accidents and discuss the disaster management aspects analysing components, such as, predictability, possible risk reduction measures, preparedness measures and rescue and relief. The constraints faced by the system in the aftermath of a rail accidents will also be analysed highlighting the post-disaster needs.


Unit 15 Air Accidents

Air accidents, though not frequent, end in total disaster once they occur. The threats and actions of terrorists in recent years have added a new dimension to the severe hazard of air accidents. This Unit will describe the causes and impacts of air accidents analysing the specific factors contributing to the occurrence of air accidents. Some of the past air disasters will be recalled and disaster management aspects of air accidents will be discussed highlighting the possible risk reduction measures and post-disaster needs.


Unit 16 Sea Accidents

India is a vast peninsula of sub-continental size surrounded by sea on three sides. Therefore, sea- fearing is a natural and inescapable national activity. The very long coastline as well as the island territories in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea have to be protected and the territorial waters have to be kept safe for our economic activities. With so much activity on the seas, it is obvious that we need to deal with sea accidents of various types including oil spills. This Unit will describe the various types of sea accidents and explain the causes and impacts. The role and organisational structure of agencies involved in, sea accidents, disaster management will be described highlighting the pre-eminent role of Indian Coast Guard. Disaster Mitigation Action Plan, including the international preventive measures against sea accidents, will also be discussed.




Unit 1

Understanding Man-Made Disasters


Unit 2

Nuclear Disasters


Unit 3

Chemical Disasters


Unit 4

Biological Disasters


Unit 5

Building Fire


Unit 6

Coal Fire


Unit 7

Forest Fire


Unit 8

Oil Fire


Unit 9

Air Pollution


Unit 10

Water Pollution


Unit 11



Unit 12

Industrial Wastewater Pollution


Unit 13

Road Accidents


Unit 14

Rail Accidents


Unit 15

Air Accidents


Unit 16

Sea Accidents



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