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Kerala lies along the coastline, to the extreme south west of the Indian peninsula, flanked by the Arabian Sea on the west and the mountains of the Western Ghats on the east. This land of Page 3 of 28 Parasurama stretches north-south along a coastline of 580 kms with a varying width of 35 to 120 kms. Cascading delicately down the hills to the coasts covered by verdant coconut groves, the topography and physical characteristics change distinctly from east to west. The nature of the terrain and its physical features, divides an east west cross section of the state into three distinct regions-hills and valleys, midland and plains and the coastal region. Located between north latitudes 80 18' and 120 48' and east longitudes 740 52' and 720 22', this land of eternal beauty encompasses 1.18 per cent of the country.
The Government of India has alloted only one smart city for the state of Kerala. It is
Physiographically the state can be divided into four domains from east to west, viz., the Western Ghats, the foothills, the midland and the coastal low- land. The Western Ghats, bordering the eastern boundary of the State, form an almost continuous mountain wall, except near Palakkad where there is a natural mountain pass known as the Palakkad Gap. The average elevation of the Ghats is about 1500 meters above sea level, occasionally soaring to peaks of 2000 to 2500 m. From the Ghats, the land slopes to the west on to the plains, into an unbroken coastline. The foothills of the Western Ghats comprise the rocky area from 200 to 600m.above MSL. It is a transitional zone between the high -ranges and midland.
The strip of hills and valleys on the eastern edge, close to the Ghats, comprises of steep mountains and deep valleys, covered with dense forests. Almost all the rivers of the state originate here. In the Midland Plains of central region, the hills are not very steep and the valleys are wide. This forms an area of gently undulating topography with hillocks and mounds. Laterite capping is commonly noticeable on the top of these hillocks. The low, flat-topped hillocks forming the laterite plateau range in altitude from 30-200m and are observed between coastal low-land and the foothills. The valleys have been developed as paddy fields and the elevated lands and hill slopes are converted into estates of rubber, fruit trees and other cash crops like pepper, arecanut and tapioca.
Tea and coffee estates have cropped up in the high ranges during the last two centuries. Coastal low-land is identified with alluvial plains, sandy stretches, abraded platforms, beach ridges, raised beaches, lagoons and estuaries. The low- land and the plains are generally less than 10m above MSL. The Coastal Belt strip is comparatively plain. Extensive paddy fields, thick groves of coconut trees and picturesque backwaters, interconnected with canals and rivers, are the features of this region. No wonder, Alappuzha an old sea port town of this region is known as the 'Venice of the East'. In the southern and northern parts of the state, the coastal belt also has some small hillocks.
There are 44 rivers in the state, of which 41 originate from the Western Ghats and flow towards west into the Arabian sea. Only three tributaries of the river Cauvery originate in Kerala and flow east into the neighbouring States. These rivers and streams flowing down from the Western Ghats either empty themselves in to the backwaters in the coastal area or directly into the Arabian Sea. As the Western Ghats are nowhere more than 120 kms from the sea, all these rivers are comparatively short
Kerala is endowed with a variety of soils thanks to the climate, topography, and vegetation characteristics. Laterite and loams form the major soil types of Kerala. The other soil types developed as a result of agro climatic variations include riverine and coastal alluvium, black soils, and problem soils like acid saline, hydromorphic, and greyish Onattukara.
� Red soil: The red colour is due to the presence of Fe2O3.Localised in southern parts of Thiruvananthapuram. The soil is almost homogeneous. Acidity ranges from 4.8 to 5.9. The gravel content is comparatively less. Low in essential nutrients and organic matter.
� Laterite soil: Majority of area comprises this type of soil. Heavy rainfall and high temperature are conducive for laterisation. Laterites are poor in available N and P. Low in Water Holding Capacity and CEC is low. Page 6 of 28
� Coastal alluvial soil: Seen in the coastal tracts along the west. They have been developed from recent marine deposits. Permeability is more. Low organic matter content. Low CEC. Water Holding Capacity is less.
� Riverine alluvial soil: Seen along the banks of rivers. Shows wide variation in physiochemical properties depending on the nature of alluvium and the characteristic of the catchment area through which the river flows. Organic Matter, N and K are moderate.
� Greyish Onattukara soil: Sandy soil confined to the Onattukara region. They occur as marine deposits and extend to the interior up to the laterite soil. Extremely deficient in plant nutrients. CEC is also poor.
� Brown hydromorphic soil: Localized in river valleys. Mostly confined to the valley bottoms of undulating topography in the mid lands and low lying areas of coastal strips. Exhibits wide variation in physico-chemical and morphological properties. Drainage is the major problem. Moderately supplied with organic matter, N and K. Deficient in lime.
� Hydromorphic saline soil: Found in the coastal tracts of Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kannur districts. During rainy season the fields are flooded leaving the area almost free of salt. Maximum accumulation of salts occurs during summer.
� Acidic saline soil: Seen in Kuttanad region covering about 875 sq.km. Soil face with serious problems of hydrology, flood, acidity and salinity. Typical water logged soils o Kayal soil: It comprises reclaimed areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts. Slightly acidic. Medium in organic matter content. Poor in available nutrients but rich in Ca. o Karappadam: Distributed over a large area of upper Kuttanad. River borne alluvial soil 1-2 m. below the sea level. Generally clay loam in texture, high acidity, fair amount of organic matter, poor in available nutrients particularly P. Deficient in lime. o Kari soil: Acidity is due to the presence of different forms of S. Kari soil resemble Peat soil.
� Black soil: Seen in Chittur area of Palakkad district. Low in Organic matter, calcareous, moderately alkaline, and high in clay content. CEC is high. Medium in P and K content and low in N.
� Forest soil: A product of weathering of crystalline rocks under forest cover. Rich in organic carbon. PH acidic. Rich in N and poor in P.
� Major problems of Kerala soils are acidity, salinity, water logging and poor physical properties. 88% of soils are acidic. 60% of the area is medium in available N, 65% of the area is low in available P and 75% is low in available K.
Climate Kerala, located in the humid tropics, is known for green landscape, evergreen forests, serene water bodies, rolling mountains and narrow valleys. With high rainfall, chains of backwater bodies, many rivers, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, springs and wells, the State is considered by many as the land of water. South west monsoon (June to September) and North east monsoon (October to November) are the two monsoon seasons of the State of which South west monsoon is more predominant. About 85% of the annual rainfall receives during the monsoon period between June and November (70% during South west and 15% during the North east monsoon) and the remaining 15% only during the non-monsoon period between December and May as summer showers.
Rainfall Kerala is the land of monsoons. It is also one of the wettest places in the world, where annual rainfall is of the order of 3000 mm. About 68 per cent of the rainfall is obtained during southwest monsoon while 16 per cent in post monsoon and the rest from summer (14 per cent) and winter rainfall (2 per cent). The occurrence and distribution of rainfall in the State also shows high spatial variations. The Western Ghat regions of Wayanad district receives rainfall higher than the State average (about 3588mm) whereas, it is 2329 mm only in Palakkad district. The regions like Attappady in Palakkad district receives rainfall less than 1000 mm. Due to the steep topography, a major portion of the high rainfall received in short duration drained to sea very fast (within 48 hours), not much to retain on the ground surface. Kerala State in the humid tropics receives an annual average rainfall of about 3062 mm, which is about 2.5 times more than that of national average.
Kerala has high population density along the coastal villages along with equally high density of open wells. The climate induced changes are going adversely affect livelihood options of the people of Kerala, which has a 590 km long coastline. This clearly indicates the vulnerability of the coastal population of Kerala even to a few millimeter rise in sea level. Kerala has a fragile and closed eco-system. There are both threats and opportunities for Kerala�s sustainable development.
Threats include the following. State has the third highest population density in India. Acute food insecurity and import of food grains. Land hunger in the state for housing and lively hood leads to encroachment of forests and low lying wetlands. Out of a total area of 38.86 lakh ha, net sown area is about 56 per cent. Forest occupies about 28 per cent. Agriculture and forest sectors together account for more than 84 per cent of the land area. The food crops comprising of rice, pulses, miner millets and tapioca occupy only 11.86 per cent, out of a gross cropped area of 26.69 lakh ha in 2009-10.
The State of Kerala which has low base in food production is facing serious challenges in retaining even this meagre area. Agricultural economy of the State is undergoing structural transformation from the mid seventies by switching over a large proportion of its traditional cropped area under rice and tapioca to more remunerative crops like coconut and rubber. The area under rice has been declining consistently over the last few decades while the area under commercial crops in general has increased considerably during the last two decades.
There was a phenomenal incremental growth in the case of rubber since last one decade. Kerala accounts for 78% of the area under rubber in the country. The increasing trend in productivity continued during 2008-09. Kerala has a substantial share in the plantation crops in the four plantation crops of rubber, tea, coffee and cardamom. These four crops together occupy 6.89 lakh ha, accounting for 31.58% of the net cropped area in the State and 43% of the area under these crops in the country. Kerala�s share in the national production of rubber is 91%, cardamom 75%, coffee 22% and tea 5% during 2008-09.
Agriculture and allied sectors are the most crucial sectors of the Kerala economy as they provide livelihood to approximately two-third of the population and contribute a fourth of the GDP. The population pressure on land is very high in Kerala and the land has become shifted from the position of a resource for production to the level of an asset.
This made the situations more complex and the farmers are started shifting from cultivation and the practice of putting the most valuable and to other purposes than farming began. Many farmers were forced to stop agriculture due to these reasons and farming became a non-lucrative vocation. If the present trend is allowed to continue, the state of Kerala would become the most food insecure part in the country. Kerala agriculture is mainly dominated by small, marginal and homestead farmers.
Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) The State Government, in line with National Disaster Management Act, 2005, has notified Kerala State Disaster Management Rules, 2007 (vide G.O (P) No. 71/2007/DMD dated 01/03/2007). The State has constituted State Disaster Management Authority (vide G.O (P) No. 154/2007/DMD dated 04/05/2007) and District Disaster Management Authorities (vide G.O (P) No. 303/08/DMD dated 09/09/2008) laying down clarity of roles and responsibilities for State and District authorities. The State Executive Committee of State Disaster Management Authority has also been constituted.
State Executive Committee (SEC) In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 20 of the Disaster Management Act ,2005 ( Central Act 53 of 2005), read with rule 11 of Kerala State Disaster Management Rules, 2007, the Government of Kerala constituted a State Executive Committee vide G.O(P) No.339/2007/DMD dated 19.9.2007 with the following members:- The Chief Secretary to Government, Chairperson; The Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, Convener; The Secretary, Finance Department, Member; The Secretary, Home Department, Member; and The Secretary, Health Department, Member. The State Executive Committee assists the State Authority in the performance of its functions and to co-ordinate action in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the State Disaster Management Authority and ensure the compliance of directions issued by the State Government, under the Act.
District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) As per sub- section (1) of section 25 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 Every State Government shall establish a District Disaster Management Authority for every district in the State. The District Disaster Management Authority with the following members for the 14 districts of the State has been constituted vide G.O (p) No 303/08/DMD dated 09/09/2008. The District Collector, Chairperson; The President, District Panchayat, Co-Chairperson; Additional District Magistrate, Member; The Superintendent of Police, Member; The District Medical Officer, Member; and two district level officers.
Institute of Land and Disaster Management Institute of Land and Disaster Management (ILDM) is an autonomous body constituted under the Revenue Department, Govt. of Kerala to impart professional training, including induction training, in-service training and refresher training to personnel of the Land Revenue and Survey Department of Kerala State since 1996. The Disaster Management Centre came into existence in the year 2000 along with other administrative training institutes in the UT Administrations and State Governments, in the Institute of Land and Disaster Management. ILDM has evolved constantly since its inception and is currently a multi-faceted institution with capability for imparting theoretical and practical courses on land management, land administration and disaster risk management for administrative and non-administrative personal. Further, it is capable of conducting comprehensive research and establishing technically complex early warning systems for disaster risk reduction. This institute will promote sharing and dissemination of specialised knowledge on disaster management among various implementation agencies, NGOs, private sector and the community in the state.
Disaster Management Centre The Disaster Management Centre is acting as a focal point at the State level for imparting training in the field of disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, relief, rehabilitation etc, undertaking research, studies, documentation, development of database, organizing State level/Regional Conferences/Workshops and to actively liaison with the State Department of Revenue and Disaster Management / Home department or any other department of the State Government which has been entrusted with the nodal responsibility for disaster management in the State, to facilitate discharge of the responsibility given to the State Government under the DM Act, 2005. Originally called the Institute of Land Management (ILM) the scope of the institute widened in the year 1999 when the Government of Kerala decided to establish a Disaster Management Centre within Institute of Land Management based on the direction from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. This resulted in the renaming of the institution as Institute of Land and Disaster Management. The far sighted decision to integrate both land administration and disaster risk management trainings under one umbrella enabled the state government to ensure transparent land administration and effective disaster risk reduction, both being mutually inclusive. Eventually, by the year 2005, the Department of Revenue was renamed as the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management and thus, revenue officials became inter alia responsible for disaster risk management.
State Disaster Response Force Kerala State has constituted State Disaster Response Force with headquarters at Peerumedu Taluk in Idukki District for the purpose of specialised response to threatening disaster situations. A Regional Response Centre of National Disaster Response Force is also set up in Kozhikode, in addition to the Seasonal Response Centre in Idukki.
Emergency Operation Centres A State Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) is set up under the nodal department of Revenue and Disaster Management linked with the office of State Disaster Management Authority. Its system and procedures are designed in such a way that information can be promptly assessed and relayed to concerned parties as rapid dissemination contributes to quick response and effective decision making during the emergency. EOC will function round the clock and will maintain direct linkage with district control rooms through phone, fax, wireless and internet. The State Disaster Management Authority will ensure that a comprehensive information network is available for timely collection of hazard-related information and rapid dissemination of relevant information and alerts/warnings. Emergency Operation Centres are set up in each district headquarters under the control of District Collectors for day to day monitoring of preparedness measures and to coordinate rescue and relief operations. State Nodal Departments will also establish Emergency Operation Centres and will assign Nodal Officers for disaster management.
State Disaster Response Fund The Calamity Relief Funds which was in operation till March, 2010 to meet the expenditure for providing immediate relief was merged in to State Disaster Response Fund vide notification G.O (P) No. 498/2010/DMD dated 03-12-2010 on the recommendation of 13th Finance Commission. The fund is maintained in the public account of the state for providing immediate relief. The State Government will also claim on the National Disaster Response Fund (previously NCCF) through memorandums for central assistance for relief and rehabilitation in the event of any calamity of a larger proportion.