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Disaster Management in India, Initiatives, Evolving Landscape of Disaster

Context: The formation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2005 was a crucial step in India’s disaster management efforts. However, the changing nature of disasters, particularly the rise of multi-hazard events, necessitates a significant upgrade and overhaul of the current system.

The Evolving Landscape of Disasters

  • Increased Frequency and Intensity: Disasters, especially those linked to extreme weather events, have become more frequent and intense in the last 20 years.
  • Climate Change as a Catalyst: Climate change plays a major role in exacerbating the impacts of these disasters.
  • Emergence of New Threats: Previously overlooked events like heat waves have become major threats.
  • Rise of Multi-Hazard Disasters: The most concerning trend is the increase in multi-hazard disasters, where one event triggers a series of others, leading to catastrophic consequences.
    • Example: Heavy rainfall causing glacial lake outbursts, landslides, and subsequent flash floods.
    • Recent Case: Cyclone Remal’s heavy rainfall triggered multiple landslides in the Northeast, resulting in at least 30 deaths.

Empowering Disaster Management

  • To effectively address these challenges, disaster management agencies need to be empowered with:
    • Proactive Role: A shift towards proactive measures rather than reactive responses.
    • Increased Resources: More funding and support to enhance their capacity.
    • Capacity Building: Continuous training and development to improve skills and knowledge.
  • Mitigating Man-Made Influences: While natural events cannot be prevented, man-made factors contributing to disasters, such as unregulated construction, can be minimised through stricter regulations and enforcement.
  • Building Disaster Resilient Infrastructure: India is investing heavily in infrastructure development, and it is crucial to incorporate disaster resilience into all new constructions. Existing infrastructure also needs to be retrofitted to withstand future disasters.
  • India’s Leadership in Disaster Resilience: India has established the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), an international organisation dedicated to promoting disaster-resilient infrastructure globally. The country should prioritise developing effective models at home to showcase to the world.

About National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

  • Statutory Body: NDMA is India’s highest statutory body dedicated to disaster management, established under the Disaster Management Act of 2005.
  • Formal Constitution: It was formally constituted on September 27, 2006.
  • Leadership: The Prime Minister of India serves as the chairperson of NDMA, which includes nine other members. Among these, one member is designated as the Vice-Chairperson.
  • Aim: NDMA aims to lead and implement a comprehensive and integrated approach to disaster management in India.
    • Its goal is to foster a safer and disaster-resilient India through a proactive, technology-driven, sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and promotes a culture of prevention, preparedness, and mitigation.

Responsibilities and Functions

  • Policy and Planning: NDMA is responsible for laying down policies and guidelines for disaster management operations across the country.
  • Approval of Plans: It approves the National Plan and the disaster management plans prepared by various ministries or government departments.
  • Guideline Development: NDMA develops guidelines that state authorities and government ministries/departments must follow for integrating disaster prevention and mitigation measures into their plans and projects.
  • Coordination and Implementation: It coordinates the enforcement and implementation of disaster management policies and plans.
  • Financial Recommendations: NDMA recommends funding allocations for disaster mitigation efforts.
  • International Support: The authority provides support to other countries affected by major disasters as determined by the Central Government.
  • Preventive Measures: NDMA undertakes measures for disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and capacity building as deemed necessary.

Related Authorities

  • State-Level: The Act also led to the formation of State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) which are headed by the respective state’s Chief Minister.
  • District-Level: District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) are led by the District Collectors or District Magistrates and co-chaired by the Chairpersons of local bodies.

Context:    The Union Home Minister of India has asked the States to prepare a disaster management plan in seven sites where new nuclear installations are to become operational.

What is a Disaster?

Under Vision India@ 2047, the Union Government aims to strengthen the disaster risk reduction system in India to make it disaster resilient.
Three major schemes worth over Rs 8,000 crore to bolster disaster management efforts across the nation have also been announced.

  • A disaster refers to a significant disturbance in the normal functioning of a community, leading to human, material, economic, and environmental damages that surpass the community’s capacity to manage.
  • It results from the combination of hazards, conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk.

Classification of Disasters

  • On the Basis of Source
    • Natural Disasters: They are caused by natural phenomena (meteorological, geological or even biological origin). Examples of natural disasters are cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which are exclusively of natural origin.
      • Landslides, floods, drought, and fires are socio-natural disasters since their causes are both natural and manmade.
    • Anthropogenic Disasters: They occur due to human intervention or negligence. These are associated with industries or energy generation facilities and include explosions, leakage of toxic waste, pollution, dam failure, wars or civil strife etc.
  • On the Basis of Duration
    • Rapid Onset Disasters: They are characterized by the sudden and acute intensity of the impact during a short period. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and tsunamis fall under the category of rapid-onset disasters.
    • Slow Onset Disasters: Also termed as ‘Creeping Emergencies’, can be predicted much further in advance and unfold over months or even years. Climate change (global warming), desertification, soil degradation, and droughts, would fall under the category of slow onset disasters.

What is Disaster Management?

  • Disaster management refers to the systematic approach of planning, organizing, coordinating, and implementing measures to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
  • It involves a range of activities and strategies aimed at reducing the impact of disasters on human lives, infrastructure, and the environment.
  • It includes the sum total of all activities, and measures which can be taken up before, during and after a disaster. A typical disaster management continuum consists of:
    • A pre-disaster Risk Management Phase: Includes prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
    • Post-disaster Crisis Management Phase: Includes relief, response, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery.

Disaster Management in India

  • Legal and Institutional Framework in India: The Government of India enacted the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, which envisaged the creation of a three-tier structure comprising the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs).
Levels Institutions
Institutional framework at the National Level
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA): At the national level, overall coordination of disaster management vests with the MHA. It coordinates with disaster-affected states, line ministries, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Home Guards and Civil Defence, and Armed Forces etc.
  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA): It is the apex body for disaster management, constituted under the DM Act, 2005 and headed by the Prime Minister of India. It is responsible for laying down the policies, plans, and guidelines for disaster management.
  • National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR): It is a multi-stakeholder and multi- decision making body on disaster management. It is chaired by the Union Home Minister with other ministers as its members.
  • National Executive Committee: Constituted under the DM Act, 2005 and chaired by the Union Home Secretary it acts as the coordinating and monitoring body for disaster management in India.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS): It is involved in decision making if the disaster has serious security implications.
  • National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM): It is the nodal agency responsible for human resource development, capacity building, training, research, documentation and policy advocacy in the field of disaster management.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): The NDRF is a specialist response force that can be deployed in a threatening disaster situation or disaster. The general superintendence, direction and control of this force is vested in and exercised by the NDMA and the command and supervision of the Force vests in the Director General of the National Disaster Response Force.
Institutional Framework at State Level
  • State Disaster Management Authority: The DM Act, 2005 mandates the creation of a State Disaster Management Authority with the Chief Minister as the ex-officio Chairperson. It is responsible for laying down the State Disaster Management Policy and approving the State DM Plans in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Union.
  • State Executive Committee: It is responsible for coordinating and monitoring DM related activities in the state. The Chief Secretary of the state is its ex-officio chairperson. It lays down the guidelines for preparation and implementation of national and state DM plans.
Institutional Framework at the District Level
  • At the district level, the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), headed by the District Collector/District Magistrate, is responsible for overall coordination of the disaster management efforts and planning.
Local Authorities
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), Municipalities, District and Cantonment Boards, and Town Planning Authorities, which control and manage civic services, ensure capacity building of their employees for managing disasters, carrying out relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the affected areas.
  • They also prepare their disaster management plans as per the national and state guidelines.

Some Initiatives for Disaster Management

  • New Schemes: The first scheme, valued at Rs 5,000 crore, aims to expand and modernize fire services in states. The project intends to enhance firefighting capabilities, upgrade equipment, and improve infrastructure to effectively respond to fire emergencies.
    • The second scheme worth Rs. 2,500-crore aims to reduce the risk of urban flooding in the seven most populous metros: Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune.
    • The third scheme, worth Rs 825 crore, is the National Landslide Risk Mitigation Project.
      • It aims to address the issue of landslides in 17 states and Union Territories by implementing measures to prevent and mitigate landslides, ensuring the safety of vulnerable communities.
  • Flood ManagementWetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters.
    • 271 wetlands have been identified in the Northeast by ISRO for flood management in the country.
    • Floods have also been controlled by planting saplings on the banks of 13 major rivers which are prone to floods.
  • Response Team: Incident Response System has been implemented in 20 states and UTs.
  • Participation:  The government has set a target of preparing around one lakh youth volunteers in 350 high-risk disaster-prone districts.
    • The government is also awarding the Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar to the individuals and organizations who have contributed in the field of disaster management.
  • National Disaster Mitigation Fund: It is a fund managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.

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