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Bihar Hazard Profile

The State of Bihar, a multi-disaster prone state, is predominantly rural in character. The geo-climatic conditions of Bihar make it vulnerable to many hazards. The lives and livelihood of millions of the people residing in Bihar gets affected by various disasters from time to time. The State witnesses various types of natural and human induced disasters, like Floods, Drought, Earthquake, Fire, Cyclone (high speed winds), Road accidents, Stampede, Epidemics, Heat Waves, Cold Waves, and Landslides etc. Kosi Flood of 2008 and severe Earthquake of 15 January 1934 have been worst disasters in the history of Bihar and the country. In addition to natural disasters, human induced disasters also pose serious challenge to the people of Bihar. Environment and climate change issues have been at the centre of disasters with increased frequency of extreme weather conditions, thus requiring an eco-sensitive approach to deal with them. With a paradigm-shift from post-disaster efforts to pre-disaster initiatives; better institutional arrangements and increased awareness and preparations, the State is moving towards disaster resilience and emerging as a leader in the field of disaster risk reduction and management and setting examples for other states to follow

The multi-disaster prone state of Bihar requires a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with these disasters requiring participation of various stakeholders. It requires a continuous and integrated process of planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures that are necessary for risk prevention, mitigation of risk impacts, preparing to face the disaster event, response, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Some of the prominent disasters and their impacts are –

Bihar’s topography is marked by a number of perennial and non-perennial rivers of which, those originating from Nepal are known to carry high sediment loads that are then deposited on the plains of Bihar. A majority of the rainfall in this region is concentrated in the 3 months of monsoon during which the flow of rivers increases up to 50 times causing floods in Bihar. 68800 sq km out of a total area of 94160 sq km, an estimated 73% per cent of the total land area in Bihar is vulnerable to flood . Annual flooding in Bihar accounts for about 30-40% of the flood damages in India; 22.1% of the total flood affected population in India is reported to be located within the state of Bihar. 28 districts of Bihar fall under most flood prone and flood prone districts.

Earthquake :-
Bihar is located in the high seismic zone that falls on the boundary of the tectonic plate joining the Himalayan tectonic plate near the Bihar-Nepal Border and has six sub-surface fault lines moving towards the Gangetic planes in four directions. Major parts of the state are classified under in seismic zone IV and V by the Vulnerability Atlas of India, i.e. as having high earthquake vulnerability with the potential to cause very high degree of devastation. In all, 15.2% of the total area of Bihar is classified under Zone V and 63.7% of the total area of Bihar falls in Zone IV. Of the 38 districts, 8 districts fall in seismic zone V while 24 districts fall in seismic zone IV and 6 districts in seismic zone III with most districts falling under multiple seismic zones (i.e. either seismic zone V & IV or seismic zone IV & III). The state has in the past experienced major earthquakes; the worst was the 1934 earthquake in which more than 10,000 people lost their lives, followed by 1988 earthquake.

Drought :-
Though the climate of Bihar is favourable for production of various crops, the agriculture of the state is dependent on behaviour of monsoon and distribution of rainfall. Although the average rainfall in the state is 1120 mm, considerable variations occur between the different parts of the State. Large part of the state is now increasingly vulnerable to drought due to climate change. In the absence of adequate rainfall, most part of Bihar including North Bihar which is prone to floods faces drought situations. South and South West Bihar are more vulnerable and often experiences severe drought situations.

Other Hazards :-
Apart from the above hazards, the state is also prone to cold and heat waves, Cyclonic storms (high speed winds) and other human-induced hazards like fire, epidemics, road / boat accidents, stampedes etc. Incidences of fire are mainly local in nature but have a severe impact on villages. Since a majority of Kucha houses have thatch roofs and wooden structures, in the summer months when winds are high, fires from the traditional stoves spread to damage entire villages.

Initiatives of BSDMA towards making disaster resilient Bihar :-
Though the state is a multi-hazard prone state, it has also been moving towards greater disaster resilience. Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA), together with Disaster Management Department of Government of Bihar, has been taking various initiatives towards awareness generation and capacity building of various stakeholders and also the affected population. Emphasis of BSDMA has been towards structural and non-structural strengthening of the system to reduce disaster risks and mitigate their impacts. Safety Weeks (Road Safety, Earthquake Safety, Fire Safety & Flood Safety), training of stakeholders, safe school programmes, safe construction guidelines, Free Earthquake Safety Clinic & Centre, wide circulation of IEC materials etc. are some of the important initiatives of the Authority.