Tripura is frequently visited by natural disasters which play havoc on
an already impoverished economy. Floods are a recurring calamity while
earthquakes and droughts are not infrequent, all particularly affecting
the vulnerable sections. Forest fires are another unrelenting disaster
occurring across the forestlands of the State.
km2 of land area of the State is considered to be flood prone . Nearly
all the rivers are rain-fed and are prone to flood. During the past
twenty years two massive floods occurred in 1999 and 2004 causing huge
economic cost. The 1999 floods followed incessant rain that was almost
double the normal rainfall and it was extremely heavy during 8-12 of
July resulting in the floods.
The damage was particularly severe in South Tripura and West Tripura
districts. Especially Gumti River had turned immensely destructive and
the total damage caused by this flood was estimated at Rs 498.5 million.
Two episodes of devastating floods occurred in June/July and September
2004, following unprecedented rainfall. For example, while the usual
average rainfall in North District during the month of July was 700.9
mm, in 2004 it was 2,102.8 mm; where as the usual average for South
Tripura in the month of September is 298.4 mm, in 2004 it was as high as
and the rest of the northeastern region lie in the zone-V of the
seismological map of India, which is regarded as a high-risk zone with
respect to earthquakes.
According to the records of the Indian Meteorological Department, 41
earthquakes of 5.6 or lower magnitude have occurred within the
coordinates 23.00-25.00ºN and 91.00-93.00ºE encompassing Tripura during
the period 1970 to 2000.
Agartala was severely damaged by an earthquake of 8.7 magnitudes in the
year 1897 when the royal palace was also fully destroyed. Earthquakes of
high magnitude over the last 200 years in the region are listed below.
1. Earthquake of 10 January 1869 (Magnitude 7.5)
2. Sillong plateau earthquake of 12 June 1897 (8.7)
3. Srimangal earthquake of 1918 (7.6)
4. Dubri earthquake of 1930 (7.1)
5. Assam earthquake of 15 August 1950 (8.5)
drought is not a periodic calamity in the State, it does occur at times
such as the dry spell of 1988-99. Caused by extremely low rainfall, the
drought of December 1988- April 1999 had resulted in extensive damage to
crops across the State.
The rainfall during this period was as low as 54.6mm while the usual
average for the corresponding period is 286.6mm. Summer vegetables,
paddy, sesamum, maize, etc were among the crops damaged.
The damage of Rs 1397.3 million caused by debilitating drought had
seriously affected the State’s economy, the agricultural sector in
particular. As in the case of floods West Tripura and South Tripura
districts were the most severely affected.