What's New :
ITS 2025: Integrated Test Series & Mentorship Program for Prelims and Mains. Get Details

Disasters put focus on cities’ ‘carrying capacity’

Published: 7th Sep, 2023


The Centre proposed before the Supreme Court forming a 13-member technical committee to evaluate the “carrying capacity” of 13 Himalayan States.

What is the need?

  • Frequent landslips leading to deaths and destruction had led the Supreme Court to moot a re-evaluation of the load-carrying capacity of hill towns and cities.
  • Significantly, these states have faced flash floods, landslides, and acute water shortages in the past, especially in popular tourist destinations. 
  • In March 2021, the National Green Tribunal had directed all state governments to undertake carrying capacity studies of ecologically sensitive areas.

What is carrying capacity?

  • The carrying capacity of an area can be defined as the “maximum number of population that can be supported by the environment of that area through optimum utilisation of the available resources”. 
  • Factors Influencing Carrying Capacity:
    • Terrain
    • Water availability
    • Waste management
    • Resilience of local communities

Are hill stations not prepared?

  • Master plans for most Indian cities — including hill stations —are not prepared based on their carrying capacity.
    • Master plan finds mention in the Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) guidelines notified by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2015.
  • It should be an integral part of city and town planning, especially in hill states.  

Why carrying capacity is out of focus?

Although carrying capacity has been taught in planning schools, it has rarely been used by urban planners while planning for cities’ development. It is due to:

  • Economic Imperatives: Tourism generates substantial revenue for these regions, making policymakers hesitant to limit tourist numbers or impose stringent regulations.
  • Lack of Planning: Hill stations often lack comprehensive development plans that consider environmental sustainability and carrying capacity. This lack of foresight exacerbates the problem.
  • Lack of manpower: There is an acute shortage of experienced urban planners in the states.
  • Political Considerations: Political interests and pressure from the tourism industry can sideline discussions about carrying capacity and environmental concerns.

How to Mitigate the Impact of Infrastructure Damage from a Landslide

  • Landslide Hazard Zonation - It covers aspects of reliability and validation of landslide zoning maps in Indian scenario and proposes future plan of activities for landslide zoning.
  • Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System: For future prospects, technical recommendation for developing and implementing rainfall thresholds, Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), Automatic Rain Gauges, Wireless Sensor Network (WSN), Micro-Electro Mechanical Sensors (MEMS) etc have been included.
  • Awareness Programmes: It aims towards a culture of awareness generation and preparedness so that people in the society become alert and aware in case of an emergency or take some preventive measures before the disaster strikes.
  • Capacity Building and Training of Stakeholders: focuses on identifying targets group for training on landslide DRR and most importantly, strengthening the response framework through capacity building and training of vulnerable communities at grass root level.

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now