International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on Friday marked another landmark in the disaster preparedness of Kerala as it became the first State in the country to disclose maps of disaster-prone areas in an international format under a voluntary disclosure clause of the Right to Information Act.
The maps have been published as KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files, a format used to display geographic data in earth browsers such as Google Earth, thus making it universally accessible to the public, unlike the data published using specialised software.
The day also marked the launch of the pilot phase of the Civil Defence Force aimed at community-based disaster risk reduction through the creation of a pool of trained civil defence volunteers.
These files made available on the official website (http://sdma.kerala.gov.in) of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) disclose the landslide and flood susceptibility zones of districts of Kerala-based on maps supplied by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies in 2010.
Anyone can log on to the website, download the zip file, and extract district-wise files. These downloaded files will enable the user to feed a location to Google Earth that, in turn, will return comprehensive details on the disaster vulnerabilities of the area concerned.
The maps will also come in handy for agencies such as the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority in granting environment clearance to quarry operators as it will help them assess whether the area identified for quarry operations falls within the high-hazard zones where blasting remains prohibited.
The maps will also help local bodies engaged in disaster mitigation work give more focus on disaster-prone areas.