Hazard Profile of State

State of Himachal is prone to various hazards both natural and manmade. Main hazards consist of earthquakes, landslides, flash floods, snow storms and avalanches, draughts, dam failures, fires – domestic and wild, accidents – road, rail, air, stampedes, boat capsizing, biological, industrial and hazardous chemicals etc. The hazard which however, poses biggest threat to the State is the earthquake hazard. The State has been shaken by more than 80 times by earthquakes having a magnitude of 4 and above on the Richter Scale as per the recorded history of earthquakes. As per the BIS seismic zoning map five districts of the State, namely Chamba (53.2%) Hamirpur (90.9%), Kangra (98.6%), Kullu (53.1%), Mandi (97.4%) have 53 to 98.6 percent of their area liable to the severest design intensity of MSK IX or more, the remaining area of these districts being liable to the next severe intensity VIII. Two districts, Bilaspur (25.3%) and Una (37.0%) also have substantial area in MSK IX and rest in MSK VIII. The remaining districts also are liable to intensity VIII.

Unfortunately, inspite of the probable maximum seismic intensities being hig , the house types mostly fall under Category A, consisting of walls of clay mud, unburnt bricks or random rubble masonry without any earthquake resisting features. Now all such houses are liable to total collapse if intensity IX or more actually occurs in future and will have severe damage called "destruction" with very large cracks and partial collapses even in Intensity VIII areas. Also, the burnt-brick houses, classified as Category B, as built in Himachal Pradesh do not have the earthquake resisting features, namely good cement mortar seismic bands and roof typing etc. therefore, they will also be liable to severe damage under intensity IX as well as in VIII when ever such an earthquake would occur. This became quite evident even in M 5.7 Dharamshala earthquake of 1986.

Another form of the natural hazards in the state is the frequent occurrences of landslides. The hills and mountains of Himachal Pradesh are liable to suffer landslides during monsoons and also in high intensity earthquakes. The vulnerability of the geologically young and not so stable steep slopes in various Himalayan ranges, has been increasing at a rapid rate in the recent decade due to inappropriate human activity like deforestation, road cutting, terracing and changes in agriculture crops requiring more intense watering etc. Although widespread floods problems do not exist in the state because of topographical nature, continuing attention is necessary to reduce flood hazards in the state, more particularly the flash flood hazard the incidences of which are increasing causing large scale damage. Besides, with the increase of road connectivity and number of vehicles plying on these roads in the State, the number of road accidents and loss of precious human lives is increasing day by day.

The forests of Himachal Pradesh are rich in vascular flora, which forms the conspicuous vegetation cover. Out of total 45,000 species of plants found in the country as many as 3,295 species (7.32%) are reported in the State. More than 95% of species are endemic to Himachal and characteristic of Western Himalayan flora, while about 5% (150 species) are exotic introduced over the last 150 years. Over the years the forest wealth of the State is being destroyed by the incidences of fire attributed to both anthropogenic and other reasons. The destruction of rich flora and fauna of the State due to forest fires will have serious repercussions on the ecological balance of the State. Besides, domestic fire incidents cause loss of property every day.

The State is known as land of Gods. Many famour temples are located in the State such as Sri Naina Devi, Baba Balak Nath, Sri Chintpurni, Ma Jawalaji, Ma Braheswari and Sri Chamunda Nandikeshwari Dham to name a few. Large number of devotees throng these places every year. A human stampede at the temple of Naina Devi occurred on 3 August 2008. 162 people died when they were crushed, trampled, or forced over the side of a ravine by the movement of a large panicking crowd. Possibility of such instances is always there if there is any laxity on the part of the management.

The State has two airports and more than 120 helipads/helicopter landing sites in the State. Punjab governor Surendra Nath and nine members of his family were killed when the government's Super-King aircraft crashed into high mountains in bad weather on July 9, 1994 in Himachal Pradesh. Mr. Nath was then acting Himachal governor also. Himachal has also one ropeway near Parwanoo which witnessed accidents few years back. More ropeways are in the offing in the state. Besides, paragliding activities also take place in Bir Biling every year. Accidents have also taken place during this activity.

Hundreds of people are killed and many more injured in road accidents every year. Few parts of State have rail network also. That makes the state prone to rail accidents too. Pong, Bhakara and Chamera are the three large water reservoirs in the State. These reservoirs besides other river courses are used in the state for transportation purpose also. There is always possibility of boat capsizing during these transport activities. The cases of drowning and washing away in rivers/streams are very common in the State. Cases of snakebite and electrocution are significant during monsoon season.

The diagrammatic representation of hazard profile of Himachal is as under:

Hazards Profile of HP

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