Complete Note on Disaster Management-GS-3

Disaster Management

Nepal Earthquake

JK Floods 

Uttarakhand Failure

Violation of Nature as the Cause
  1. There is ample scientific evidence that the Himalayan watersheds have witnessed unprecedented deforestation. Vegetative cover slows the speed of falling rain and prevents soil erosion and gully formation. Besides forests and soil soak water from the rain, release it slowly and prevent water flowing as run-off. 
  2. There is mounting evidence that global warming is fast catching up with the Himalaya. 
  3. While it is important to appreciate the aspirations of locals and economic activities, there cannot be a lack of enforcement of land use laws. Such laws were violated with impunity in Uttarakhand as construction activity came up on the river banks.
  4. Hydel activities cause slope weakening and destabilisation. Similarly sand mining and stone industries also weaken the river system.
Role of Ecological Neglect by the State
  1. It is not as if the state government wasn’t unaware of the looming threat. Government reports had warned of the unchecked dangers of urbanisation and from hydel projects. The authorities have always treated environment with scant regard. 
  2. The Centre had declared a stretch of 100 km between Gomukh and Uttarkashi along the Bhagirathi river as an eco-sensitive zone. However, the state government is opposing the move, saying this would adversely affect the development in the region.
  3. The fact is that the dams, barrages and embankments on one hand, magnify the enormity of high floods when they come and on the other, instil a false sense of security in minds of those who come to occupy the erstwhile khadar lands that all is well. The truth is the opposite. Only normal and periodic climatic events have been converted into man-made disasters, with man coming to colonise khadar land.
Role of Dams
  1. Big dams, like the one at Tehri, disturb the highly fragile Himalayan tectonic system.
  2. But this time the dam managed to protect big towns like Rishikesh and Haridwar  through regulation of the Bhagirathi river waters, most of which were held back in the 42-km long reservoir. Experts have now recommended a big dam across the Alaknanda river also to further manage the flow of water.
  3. Being a hill state, Uttarakhand is ecologically sensitive but its two main sources of income are tourism and hydel energy. The state cannot look away from these two sources.
  4. Construction of hydel dams require rivers to be diverted through tunnels to generate power. The construction of these tunnels unsettles the mountainous terrain and contributes to a greater quantity of rocks and sediment crashing down.
CAG Report on Uttarakhand’s Preparedness
  1. It pointed out that the SDMA had remained virtually non-functional. 
  2. The state had also failed to incorporate disaster prevention into the development planning. 
    1. No thought was given to the fragile ecosystem of the state in the developmental planning process. 
    2. Buildings were permitted on floodplains of the rivers.
    3. Such unsafe construction is linked to the religious tourism. Why can’t we adopt policies of Bhutan where tourism is regulated to bring it in harmony with the environment?
    4. Construction of hydel dams require rivers to be diverted through tunnels to generate power. The construction of these tunnels unsettles the mountainous terrain and contributes to a greater quantity of rocks and sediment crashing down.
  3. Vulnerability assessment at local level and identification of necessary mitigative action had not been done. Buildings were permitted on floodplains of the rivers.
  4. The disaster management plan was in place but its implementation was absolutely poor.
    1. The communication system was also inadequate, with the delay in sharing of disaster information. 
    2. Absence of any guidelines meant the preparedness was almost nil. The disaster struck on June 16 and rescue and relief operations could begin only on June 24 when the Army was called in. 
    3. Until then the government had no clue. It had no idea about the magnitude of what had struck the state.
  5. Restoration work undertaken under the Calamity Relief Fund were delayed and violated the guidelines.
  6. Some warning system had been in place, such as radars and climate prediction. 
    1. The reports of IMD have always been very imprecise like “heave to very heavy rainfall in some areas in Uttarakhand”. No one has any idea of what heavy to very heavy means.
    2. The prediction accuracy and forewarning capabilities of IMD need to be increased. Apart from quantifying the amount of rainfall, spatial distribution information should also be given.
    3. World over such systems are in place and even in our country such systems are in place for cyclones.
National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSDCP)
The idea is to mitigate the impact of all oil spills on the environment by – 
  • Setting specific standards for oil spill equipment stockpiles
  • Establishing time frames for oil spill response
  • Increasing collaboration among partner agencies.
Types of Crises
  1. Crises caused by acts of nature. These can further be divided into the following sub-categories:
    1. Climatic events: cyclones and storms (associated sea erosion), floods and drought
    2. Geological events: earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and avalanches;
  2. Crises caused by environmental degradation and disturbance of the ecological balance;
  3. Crises caused by accidents. These, again, can be further classified into: industrial and nuclear mishaps and fire related accidents;
  4. Crises caused by biological activities: public health crises, epidemics etc;
  5. Crises caused by hostile elements: war, terrorism, extremism, insurgency etc;
  6. Crises caused by disruption/failure of major infrastructure facilities including communication systems, large-scale strikes etc; and
  7. Crises caused by large crowds getting out of control.
Life Cycle Approach to Crisis Management
  1. crisis does not emerge suddenly; it has a life cycle, which may take days, months or even decades to develop. A crisis, therefore, needs to be examined in terms of its management cycle. This ‘life cycle’ of crisis management may be divided broadly in three phases – pre-crisis, during crisis and post crisis.
World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, Yokohama, 1994
  1. Risk assessment is an important initial step.
  2. Disaster prevention and preparedness are next important steps and should be included at the planning level itself. 
  3. Capacity development is next important step.
  4. Early warning systems should be installed and steps taken for fast and wide warning information dissemination.
  5. Local community involvement is important.
  6. Education and training to the whole community is important.
  7. International sharing of technology is important.
  8. Environmental protection is important and poverty alleviation is imperative.
  9. Needs of developing countries should be kept in mind in disaster management efforts.
Yogyakarta Declaration
  1. Hoyogo Framework for Action: This is the agreement reached in 2005 between countries on disaster management. It runs form 2005 to 2015. It was a roadmap for the government and other players.
  2. Yogyakarta declaration includes calls to integrated local knowledge and climate change into disaster management plans, political commitment, accountability, awareness and education, and to build local capacity.

Disaster Risk Reduction Framework
  1. A policy framework has to be drawn up backed by the legal and institutional mechanisms that focuses on risk reduction as the major priority in disaster management.
  2. Assessment of risk including hazard analysis and community vulnerability.
  3. Risk Awareness and Preparation of Plans for Risk Mitigation.
  4. Implementation of the Plan.
  5. Early Warning Systems.
  6. Development of systems for processing and sharing of disaster related information.

  1. Almost 85% of the country is vulnerable to single or multiple disasters and about 57% of its area lies in high seismic zones. Approximately 40 million hectares of the country’s land area is prone to flood, about 8% of the total land mass is vulnerable to cyclone and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought.
  2. There is no reason why so much loss happens in India whereas earthquakes of similar measurements in USA or Japan have had relatively little impact.
  3. Post monsoon cyclones are usually more intense both in numbers and intensity.
Cyclone Shelters
  1. In densely populated coastal areas, where large scale evacuations are not always feasible, public buildings can be used as cyclone shelters. 
  2. These buildings can be so designed, so as to provide a blank face with a minimum number of apertures in the direction of the prevailing winds. The shorter side of the building should face the storm, so as to impart least wind resistance. 
  3. Green belts can be used in front of these buildings to reduce the impact of the storm.
Traditional Knowledge for Disaster Management
  1. If tribals in the Andamans could survive the tsunami, it was because their existing warning systems worked well in comparison to our non-existent modern systems. 
  2. The fact that traditional houses of wood and stone survived the Uttarkashi earthquake not so long ago while modern buildings collapsed offered a similar lesson. 
  3. In the flood-prone rural North-East, one can find houses on bamboo stilts that allow flood waters to flow under them rather than through or over! 
Flood Control and Management
  1. There should be a master plan for flood control and management for each flood prone basin.
  2. Adequate flood-cushion should be provided in water storage projects. In highly flood prone areas, flood control should be given overriding consideration in reservoir policy even at the cost of sacrificing some irrigation or power benefits.
  3. While physical flood protection works like embankments and dykes will continue to be necessary, increased emphasis should be laid on non-structural measures such as flood forecasting, flood plain zoning and flood proofing.
  4. There should be strict regulation of settlements in the flood plain zones along with flood proofing.
Landslides and Avalanches
  1. The Himalayas comprise of tectonically unstable younger formations and often the slides are huge, and in most cases, the overburden along with the underlying lithology is displaced during sliding. In contrast, the Western Ghats are geologically stable and the slides are usually confined to the over burden without affecting the bedrock beneath.
  2. Structural measures:
    1. Planting (Avalanche Prevention Forest)
    2. Stepped Terraces
    3. Avalanche Control Fence
    4. Other protection structures
  3. Non-structural measures – removing snow deposits on slopes by blasting, predicting avalanches and evacuating people from vulnerable areas. 
Industrial Disasters
  1. In the pre-Bhopal Gas Tragedy era, industrial safety was governed by legislations like the Factories Act, 1948 and the Explosives Act, 1884. These laws proved to be inadequate to provide safety to workers as well as to the people living in the surrounding areas. After the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, a new chapter was inserted in the Factories Act, 1948 dealing with hazardous processes. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 was enacted. More importantly, several Rules were promulgated under the Act. 
Rail Disaster Management

It is an integral part of railway safety. However, earlier the disaster management was confined to reacting to the railway accidents. After the NDMA, 2005 the Railway ministry has developed an integrated disaster management plan. As per this plan,
    1. The railway zones and railway divisions have been made the nodal agencies for planning, mitigation and relief within their zones.
    2. The Plan is not focused towards reacting to the accidents only, but it also includes, terrorist attacks, natural disasters affecting the railways, crowd management during festivals or natural calamities. It heavily relies on modern technology like CCTVs, ACDs, satellite communications, upgraded signaling systems, self propelled accident relief vans, modern cranes, luggage scanners. 
    3. It emphasizes in relief during golden hours (first hour of the accident) i.e. reach the spot within 1 hour. Training is done at Bangalore in the disaster relief operations.
    4. The Railway Protection Force is developing a rapid action team to be trained by NSG to respond to the terrorist attacks on railway trains and assets.
    5. Railway officials to maintain contact with the general administrative authorities in their areas for prompt relief in case of the disasters.
Creeping Emergencies
  1. Disasters can also be classified as ‘slow onset’ disasters and ‘rapid onset’ disasters. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis would fall under the category of rapid onset disasters; climate change (global warming), desertification, soil degradation, and droughts, would fall under the category of slow onset disasters. Slow onset disasters are also termed as ‘Creeping Emergencies’.
Sea Erosion
  1. The landward displacement of the shoreline caused by the forces of waves and currents is termed as erosion. 
  2. The impact of the event is not always seen immediately, but it is equally important when we consider loss of property that it causes. It takes months or years to note the impact. So, this is generally classified as a “long term coastal hazard”. 
  3. Anthropological effects that trigger beach erosion are: construction of artificial structures, mining of beach sand, offshore dredging, or building of dams.
Traditional Disaster Management Architecture in India

The Response Mechanism
  1. Field level response
    1. The community is the first responder in a disaster. Field level response in rural areas is by the nearest police station and the revenue functionary; in urban areas the response is by agencies like the civic authorities, the fire brigade and the local police station. 
    2. At present, panchayats do not have the capacity to react in any effective manner and it is the district administration with the Collector playing a pivotal role. He has the authority to mobilize the response machinery and has been given financial powers to draw money.
    3. All departments including the police, fire services, public works, irrigation etc. work under the leadership of the Collector during a disaster, except in metropolitan areas where the municipal body plays a major role. 
    4. The District Collector also enjoys the authority to request for assistance from the Armed Forces if circumstances so demand.
  2. Role of state government 
    1. The basic responsibility to undertake response measures rests with the State Governments. 
    2. The entire structure of crisis administration in the State Governments has been oriented towards post disaster relief and rehabilitation. 
    3. Most of the states have Relief Commissioners. The Relief Commissionerate is usually an adjunct of the Revenue Department. In some states, the Revenue Secretary is also the ex-officio Relief Commissioner. 
    4. This has the advantage of providing a direct chain of command to the district Collectors and the Tehsildars, but the focus on crisis prevention and mitigation or even of preparedness is missing.
    5. Every state has a Crisis Management Committee under the Chief Secretary, consisting of secretaries of concerned departments, which reviews crisis situations on a day-to-day basis, coordinates the activities of all departments and provides support to the district administration. 
    6. At the ministers’ level, a Cabinet Committee on Natural Calamities under the Chief Minister takes stock of situations and is responsible for all important policy decisions.
  3. Role of Union Government 
    1. It plays a key supportive role with resources and providing complementary measures such as early warning and co-ordination of efforts of all Union ministries, departments and organizations. 
    2. At the apex level, a Cabinet Committee on Natural Calamities reviews the crisis situations. 
    3. A High Level Committee of Ministers under the chairmanship of Minister of Agriculture deals with the issue of financial support to be provided to the State Governments.
    4. Matters relating to nuclear, biological and chemical emergencies are looked after by the Cabinet Committee on Security.
    5. The Cabinet Secretary heads the National Crisis Management Committee. Secretaries of ministries and departments concerned and heads of other organizations are members, which reviews and monitors crisis situations on a regular basis and gives directions to the Crisis Management Group.
    6. The Central Relief Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the Chairman of the Crisis Management Group (CMG) consisting of nodal officers from various concerned ministries. The CMG’s functions are to review annual contingency plans formulated by various ministries, measures required for dealing with a natural disaster, coordinate the activities of the Union Ministries and State Governments. In the event of a disaster, the CMG meets frequently to review relief operations and extends assistance required by the affected states.
The Finance Mechanism
  1. Schemes for financing expenditure on disaster management are governed by the recommendations of the Finance Commission
  2. Under the existing scheme, each state has a Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) administered by the Chief Secretary. The size of the corpus is determined with reference to the expenditure normally incurred by the state on relief and rehabilitation over the past ten years. 
  3. In case the funds under CRF are not sufficient, State Governments can seek assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) – the approval for which is granted by the High Level Committee of Ministers
  4. Both these funds, as the names suggest, are meant for relief and rehabilitation and do not cover either mitigation or reconstruction works, which have to be funded separately.
Evolution of Disaster Management Architecture

Following the Gujarat earthquake, the Government of India took important policy steps for revamping the disaster management system in the country. These 
  1. Disaster management with reference to rapid onset disasters was moved from the purview of the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry of Agriculture retains the responsibility for droughts, pest attacks and hailstorms.
  2. State Governments were advised to reorganize their Relief & Rehabilitation Department into a separate Disaster Management Department.
  3. State Governments were further advised to constitute State Disaster Management Authority under the Chairmanship of State Chief Ministers and the District Disaster Management Committee under the Chairmanship of District Collectors.
  4. National Disaster Response Force to be constituted.
  5. A fail-proof disaster communication network to be set up.
  6. The National Institute of Disaster Management was set up for training, capacity building, research and documentation.
  7. Disaster management to be included in education system at all levels starting from schools.
The Disaster Management Act, 2005

The National Disaster Management Authority (PM Level Body)
  1. To lay down policies on disaster management.
  2. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the states in drawing up the State Plan and the union ministries to draw up their plans.
  3. Approve the National Plan and plans prepared by various union ministries.
  4. Coordinate the implementation of the plans for disaster management.
  5. Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation.
  6. Provide support to other countries.
  7. Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.
The National Executive Committee (Secretary Level Body)
  1. Act as the national level coordinating and monitoring body for disaster management.
  2. Prepare the National Plan to be approved by the NDMA.
  3. Monitor and evaluate the preparedness level, the implementation of the national policy, guidelines laid down by NDMA, national plan, plans of various union ministries.
  4. Provide necessary technical assistance to the states for preparing their disaster management plans and carry out other functions under this Act.
  5. Promote general education and organize special training programmes in relation to disaster management.
  6. Coordinate response in the event of any disaster. Require any department or agency to make available men or material resources for emergency response.
  7. Lay down guidelines for, or give directions to union ministries and states regarding measures to be taken by them in response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
The State Disaster Management Authority (CM Level Body)
  1. Lay down the State disaster management policy.
  2. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the state ministries.
  3. Approve the State Plan and plans prepared by various state ministries.
  4. Coordinate the implementation of the state plan and other state ministries’ plans.
  5. Recommend provision of funds for mitigation and preparedness measures.
The State Executive Committee (Chief Secretary Level Body)
  1. Lay down guidelines for preparation of plans by the various state ministries and the DDMAs.
  2. Monitor the implementation of the national policy, the national plan, the state plan and the plans prepared by various state ministries and the DDMAs. Also monitor the implementation of guidelines laid down by the SDMA and evaluate the level of preparedness.
  3. Provide necessary technical assistance or give advice to DDMAs and state ministries.
  4. Coordinate response in the event of any disaster. Give directions to any Department or agency regarding response actions to be taken.
  5. Promote general education and community training.
  6. Advise the State Government regarding all financial matters in relation to disaster management.
  7. Examine the vulnerability of different parts of the state and specify measures to be taken.
  8. Examine the construction in any area and if it is of the opinion that the standards for the prevention of disaster have not been followed, may direct the DDMA to take needed action.
  9. Ensure that communication systems are in order and the disaster management drills are carried out periodically.
The District Disaster Management Authority (Collector Level Body)
  1. Collector as ex officio Chairperson, elected representative of the local authority as the ex officio co-Chairperson, the Superintendent of Police, Chief Medical Officer and maximum two other district level officers to be appointed by the State Government, as members. 
  2. It acts as the district planning, coordinating and implementing body for disaster management and takes all measures according to the guidelines laid down by the NDMA and the SDMA.
The National Disaster Management Plan (Prepared by NEC and approved by NDMA)
  1. Measures to be taken for the prevention and mitigation.
  2. Measures to be taken for integration of mitigation measures in the development plans.
  3. Measures to be taken for preparedness and capacity building to effectively respond.
  4. Roles and responsibilities of different ministries.
The State Disaster Management Plan (Prepared by SEC and approved by SDMA)
  1. The vulnerability of different parts of the State to different forms of disasters.
  2. The measures to be adopted for prevention and mitigation of disasters.
  3. Measures to be taken for integration of mitigation measures in the development plans.
  4. Measures to be taken for preparedness and capacity building to effectively respond.
  5. The roles and responsibilities of different state ministries.
The District Disaster Management Plan (Prepared by DDMA)
  1. Every office of the government having office at district level shall prepare a disaster management plan in accordance with the district plan and submit a copy of the plan to the DDMA. 
  2. The areas in the district vulnerable to different forms of disasters.
  3. The measures to be taken, for prevention and mitigation of disaster.
  4. The capacity-building and preparedness measures to effectively respond.
  5. The response plans and procedures, in the event of a disaster, providing for-
    1. Allocation of responsibilities to the departments and the local authorities in the district.
    2. Prompt response to disaster and relief.
    3. Procurement of essential resources.
    4. Establishment of communication links.
    5. Dissemination of information to the public.
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)
  1. It will  function within the broad policies and guidelines laid down by the NDMA.
  2. It will be responsible for promoting research in the area of disaster management.
  3. It will be responsible for documentation of the disasters and their management cases.
  4. It will be responsible for the development of a national level information base.
The National Disaster Response Force
  1. The general superintendence, direction and control of the Force shall vest in the NDMA
The National Disaster Response Fund & The National Disaster Mitigation Fund
  1. The response fund will be made available to the NEC and the mitigation fund to the NDMA. 
  2. Besides, every ministry shall make provisions in its annual budget, for funds for actions  set out in its disaster management plans.
Other Salient Features of the Act
  1. The Central Government can issue directions to any authority (union or state) to assist in disaster management.
  2. Any officer or authority shall have to make available such manpower as requested by NEC, SEC or DDMA.
  3. If it appears to the NEC, SEC or DDMA that provisions of any rule regulation etc. need to be made or amended for purposes of prevention and mitigation of disasters, it may require to do so.
  4. The NDMA, the SDMA or a DDMA may recommend to the Government to give direction to any person in control of any media or means of communication to carry out any warnings or advisories regarding disasters.
  5. The NDMA shall prepare an annual report to the Central Government which shall cause it to be laid before Parliament. 
  6. Actions taken under this law will be immune from court challenges.
India’s Disaster Preparedness
Analytical Issues in Disaster Management in India

Constitutional Provision – is there need for a separate entry for Disaster Management in the 3 Lists?
  1. Disaster management doesn’t figure in any of the 3 lists. So the parliament has the competence to legislate on this subject. However, by practice and convention the primary responsibility for managing disasters rests with the State Governments
  2. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 was enacted by invoking entry 23 namely ‘Social security and social insurance, employment and unemployment’ in the Concurrent List even though all aspects of crisis management cannot be said to be covered by this entry. 
  3. There are already various entries in the three lists, which deal with some aspect or other of disaster management. ‘Public order’ finds a place in the State List, as does Public Health. Entries 14 and 17 in the State List deal with Agriculture and Water respectively. Environment and Social Security are included in the Concurrent List. Atomic energy and Railways are part of the Union List.
  4. Due to the cross cutting nature of activities that constitute disaster management and linkages required which involve coordination between the Union, State and local governments on the one hand and a host of government departments and agencies on the other; setting up of a broadly uniform institutional framework at all levels is of paramount importance. 
  5. There is need to ensure congruence and coherence with regard to the division of labor among the agencies at the Union, State and other levels. This could best be achieved if the subject of Disaster Management is placed in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. 
What should a law on crisis management provide?
  1. Centralization versus decentralization
    1. A totally centralized or totally decentralized mechanism would be ineffective because while the response should be made from the local level, the level of coordination required necessitates involvement of the central government. It is best if certain functions of disaster management are centralized while others are decentralized down to the lowest level.
    2. Immediate rescue, relief and then rehabilitation should be the responsibility of the level of government closest to the affected population. This logically has to be the district administration and the local self-governments. 
    3. The district administration is part of the State Government and the primary responsibility for managing any disaster is with the State Governments. 
    4. The resources of states being limited they seek and get assistance from the Union Government. This arrangement of ‘bottom-up’ responsibilities regarding implementation is appropriate and has worked well in the past and should not be disturbed.
    5. On the other hand, disaster management planning requires wider perspective and expertise. Developments in science and technology, specialized manpower and equipment, repository of best practices, early warning systems, standard capacity building and awareness generation programmes call for an agency to coordinate efforts at the state and the national levels.
    6. Thus, the legislation needs to create agencies at all levels. The responsibility and the authority assigned to each one of these have to be distinct. National level planning, research, analysis and adoption of best practices, development of standard operating procedures (national level), development of training and capacity building programmes, administration of early warning systems and formulating policy on disaster management are best entrusted to a national body. Local planning and the actual work of implementation are better left with State Governments, local governments and the district administration with support from the Union Government’s implementing agencies.
  2. Mobilization of resources: The law needs to empower authorities handling disasters to requisition such resources for specified periods and the issue of compensation should not be a hindrance in crisis management efforts.
  3. Information dissemination: Even with good early warning technologies, the human element involved in the transmission process is crucial. Prompt transmission of information should be made a statutory duty of each concerned functionary and SoPs devised. Responsibilities of citizens should also be defined in the process.
  4. Misutilization of funds: Funds meant for disaster relief often tend to get misused as normal procedures are not followed because of urgency. While enforcing stringent procurement procedures may become a hurdle in the disaster management effort, the penalty for misutilization of funds meant for disaster relief should be stringent and could form part of the law itself.

Analysis of the Disaster Management Act, 2005
  1. It defines disaster as natural or man made event that causes substantial loss to life, property and environment. The scope of this definition does not cover a variety of other crisis situations that may or may not culminate in a disaster.
  2. It concentrates very comprehensive powers at the national level for dealing with disasters. 
    1. The NDMA as well as the NEC have been given the role not just of planning, coordinating, monitoring and providing assistance during a disaster but also executive functions related to implementation of the emergency relief and disaster response.
    2. What, in fact, is however needed is further empowerment and delegation to the front-end functionaries. In any crisis situation the field functionaries and the State Governments being aware of the field situation would be in the best position to provide timely and effective response.
    3. International practices also do not normally involve setting up centralized authorities with command and control functions to deal with disasters. 
  3. The integration of the institutional structure prescribed under the Act with the existing administrative framework of the country may pose several problems. 
    1. The NDMA and the NEC will also lay down guidelines for the state authorities, coordinate the enforcement and implementation of these policies and ensure timely response. 
    2. All these functions traditionally have been performed by State Governments. 
  4. Cabinet Secretary at the union level is more appropriate authority for the coordination of disaster management efforts rather than the NEC under department secretary.
Recommendations on the DMA, 2005
  1. Disaster Management should continue to be the primary responsibility of the State Governments and the Union Government should play a supportive role.
    1. The functions of the NDMA should be: to recommend policies, to lay down guidelinesto promote research, to advise on parameters of categorization of disasters, documentation and dissemination of knowledge, capacity building, early warning systems, to deploy resources in support of local/State Governments, and to give recommendations to the government.
    2. The task of implementation of mitigation/prevention and response measures may be left to the State Governments and the district and local authorities with the line ministries of the union playing a supportive role.
    3. The role of the local governments should be brought to the forefront for disaster management. 
  2. The Act should provide categorization of disasters (say, local, district, state or national level). This categorization along with intensity of each type of disaster will help in determining the level of authority primarily responsible for dealing with the disaster as well as the scale of response.
  3. The law should cast a duty on every public functionary, to promptly inform the concerned authority about any crisis.
  4. The law should make provisions for stringent punishment for misutilization of funds meant for disaster management.
  5. The NEC as stipulated under the Disaster Management Act need not be constituted, and the NCMC should continue to be the apex coordination body. At the state level, the existing coordination mechanism under the Chief Secretary should continue.
Is There a Case for a Separate Ministry/Department of Disaster/Crisis Management?
  1. The functions expected of the ministry were networking and coordination of national resources while the concerned ‘functional’ ministries would continue to discharge their responsibilities and functions in accordance with their respective disaster management plans.
  2. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of activities in crisis management, creation of a separate ministry is likely to lead to conflict and delays rather than coordination. For planning, research, capacity building and coordination of national resources; such a coordination mechanism is now available with the formation of the NDMA. And for the purposes of implementation, a coordination mechanism headed by the Cabinet Secretary would be more effective. 
  1. The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) headed by the Cabinet Secretary coordinates and guides the work of different departments of Government of India in times of crisis. The NEC would be duplicating the role of NCMC to a great extent. 
  2. The NCMC has inherent advantages of ensuring quick decisions and immediate implementation. If parallel bodies are created the possibility of the pre-existing and newly formed committees trespassing on each other and creating confusion cannot be ruled out. 
NDRF vs Army
  1. NDRF would be a highly trained quick response agency to respond to the needs of disaster response. To a large extent, this role has been filled by the Army. 
  2. The lessons learnt from the devastating disasters around the world is that extraordinarily severe disasters could overwhelm specialized agencies and that in such situations the Armed Forces remain the ‘measure of last resort’. 
  3. It is imperative that even after the NDRF becomes fully functional, the ‘enabling role’ of the Armed Forces in assisting the civil authorities be retained and the Armed Forces continue to maintain capabilities.
Role of Local Self-Governments
  1. Local bodies are closest to the people but too small in their reach and capabilities to lead the response operations on their own. They thus need to play an important role in crisis management under the overall leadership of the District Administration. 
  2. State Governments may examine the need to incorporate provisions in the state disaster management law and also the state laws governing local bodies to provide for a well defined role to the PRIs.
  3. In major citiesMunicipal Corporations have a large administrative system including departments like engineering, public health and revenue, and sometimes fire services. These should provide a good response
Need for Holistic Water Management to Reduce Water Disasters
  1. Water related disasters can’t be addressed unless larger issues like water management through a National Water Policy are properly addressed. 
  2. Central Water Commission
    1. A major impediment is the ‘segmented policy attention’ from a number of departments and there are multiple union departments involved with different aspects of water management. This leads to time-consuming repeated consultations, constant inter-departmental references and meetings and weak coordination and lack of a holistic approach.
    2. So the CWC should be restructured into a statutory autonomous inter-disciplinary Commission, with maximum powers, in order to deal with policy and reforms, center – state and inter-state issues.
  3. Using powers under Entry 56 in the Union List, a Law may be enacted to set up mechanisms for collection of data, managing flow in rivers and release of water from reservoirs, so as to prevent disasters, with interstate ramifications.
Steps to Improve Education and Awareness in Disaster Management
  1. Strengthening of National Institute of Disaster Management.
  2. Disaster Management should be introduced as a subject in Management and Public Administration.
  3. Professionalisation of disaster management is a desirable objective. 
Improving Disaster Management Plans by Better Information and Practices
  1. It has been noticed that the district plans are usually not based on proper hazard and vulnerability analysis of the district.
  2. Preparing Seismic Micro Maps
    1. The seismic zone based categorization of the entire country on 1:1.25 million scale is a good indication of the seismic hazards at a macro level, but is inadequate for undertaking seismic activities at the city level. This requires advanced micro maps in 1:1000 scale, based on local geological, soil and ground water surveys. 
    2. The preparation of such maps was taken up on a pilot basis for the selected cities, but none of the studies has been completed with common standards and protocols that can be accepted at national level
  3. Use of GIS and GPS: It is also possible to use GIS tools to integrate various spatial data such as topography, hydrology, land use, land cover, settlement pattern, built up structures etc and non-spatial data such as demography, socio-economic conditions and infrastructure like road, rail network, communication system, hospital etc. on a common platform. This can be further integrated with GPS for real time monitoring of crisis.
  4. Enforcement of Plans
    1. Normally, it is understood that plans incorporate only developmental measures such as construction of shelters, construction of embankments etc. 
    2. But disaster mitigation plans should also incorporate a schedule of ‘enforcement measures’ and the functionaries who will be held responsible for these. 
    3. Such enforcement measures being ‘unpleasant’ and unpopular are very often not contemplated leave aside acted upon. 
    4. These measures could include enforcement of building regulations in urban areas, removal of encroachments from natural watercourses or environmentally fragile areas, and strict enforcement of environmental, safety and public health regulations.
  5. Integration of Disaster and Developmental Planning
    1. The activities in the disaster management plans should be included in the development plans of the line agencies and local bodies.
    2. The supervisory level of each agency should ensure that the annual plan of that agency incorporates the activities listed out in the disaster management plan. 
    3. Incorporation of disaster mitigation plans into the development plans should be specially monitored at the five year and annual plan discussions at State and Planning Commission levels.
  6. Environment management should be made an integral part of all plans.
  7. National Building Code of India 2005 
    1. Its guidelines are seldom used. The main reason for this is ignorance about them and escalation of the costs if they are followed
    2. A balance has to be struck between safety and cost.
    3. As a pre-requisite, it should be in public domain and freely available on Internet. 
    4. Simplified versions should be made availableThe BIS should convert the norms (at least for small dwelling units) into commonly understood principles, which could be followed and enforced even by village panchayats.
  1. The approach of drafting model rules and circulating them to the states for incorporation by the local bodies has not produced the desired results. Adoption of these model regulations would require periodic monitoring. Targets should be fixed each year and financial incentives should be used.
  2. For retrofitting old buildings, a suitable financial package may be worked out by the state governments along with banks and insurance agencies. Even non-financial incentives like relaxation on extent of built up areas could act as an incentive to motivate private owners to take up retrofitting.
  3. Zoning regulations 
    1. They could be used to prevent settlements in hazard prone areas like the riverbanks or areas near coasts or ecologically sensitive areas. They could also be used to spread out the population so that impact of any hazard is limited. 
    2. However, at present zoning regulations exist only in big cities. In small towns and rural areas the concept of zoning regulations is almost non-existent. 
    3. Even in bigger cities, they are often not prepared with an intention to mitigate hazards
    4. Another weakness of these zoning regulations is their poor enforcement. 
  4. Communications networks, with sufficient redundancies should be established.
  5. Undertaking location specific training programmes for the community should be a part of the disaster management plan right from the PRI level. 
Emergency Plan at the District Level
  1. Emergency Response Plans should be up-to-date and should lay down the ‘trigger points’ in unambiguous terms.
  2. The district emergency response plan should be prepared in consultation with all concerned. The plan should be known and accepted by all the role players. 
  3. SoPs should be developed. Handbooks, checklists, manuals etc should be developed and disseminated.
  4. Unity of command should be the underlying principle.
  5. Mock drills and capability building efforts must be regularly carried out.
  6. It must be remembered that plans are no substitute for sound judgement at the time of crisis.
  7. Handling of crisis should be made a parameter for evaluating the performance of officers.
  8. Institutions such as civil defense, home guards must be revived and integrated with disaster response at field level.
Gender Issues in Disaster Management
  1. More women are affected in disasters they have little say in decision making, are comparatively less literate, have lesser mobility and are dependent on men folk. This disadvantaged situation obviously gets aggravated in crisis situation. So the special needs and concerns of women need to be kept in mind.
  2. The vulnerability analysis should bring out the specific vulnerabilities of women and these should be addressed in any mitigation effort. Disaster mitigation plans should be prepared, in consultation with womens’ groups. 
  3. Rescue and relief operations should focus on the most vulnerable groups – women, children, the elderly and the physically challenged.
  4. In the recovery phase, efforts should focus on making women economically independent.
  5. Camp managing committees should have adequate number of women representatives.
  1. The complex nature of control of epidemics is evident from the fact that in the Constitution of India all the three legislative lists of the Seventh Schedule enumerate some aspects of the matter as follows: List-I; entry 28 “quarantine” and entry 81 “inter-State quarantine”; List-II; entry 6 “Public health and sanitation”; List-III; entry 29 “prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases”.
  2. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 continues to deal with management of epidemic related diseases. It is an omnibus legislation which essentially supercedes all laws in force in the event of outbreak or a threatened outbreak of a ‘dangerous epidemic disease’ and authorizes the Union and State Governments (when authorized by the Union), to resort to all necessary measures to deal with the emergency. The Act also empowers search of vessels and other means of transport and detention and segregation of any persons suspected to be suffering from an epidemic disease. 
  3. The Public Health Emergency Bill 
    1. It enables the Union or State Governments to declare a particular area as ‘epidemic or bio-terrorism affected’. 
    2. Upon such declaration, action can be initiated which apart from measures like inspection and quarantine etc., also empowers government to prohibit activities which lead to or are likely to lead to epidemics or bio-terrorism.  
  4. The manner in which the Disaster Management Act, 2005 defines the term ‘disaster’ leaves no doubt that an epidemic of extraordinary severity spreading rapidly is covered by it. The Act also overrides the provision of any other law (Section 72). As such, it is clear that management of epidemics-related crisis would also fall within the jurisdiction of the NDMA. NDRF needs to be equipped to handle the cases of bio-terrorism.
Civil Defence in Disaster Management

Civil Defence (Amendment) Act, 2010 
  1. It was amended to cater to the needs of disaster management so as to utilize the Civil Defence volunteers effectively for greater public participation in disaster management related activities.
  2. The CD organisation is raised only in such areas which are considered vulnerable. This is reviewed periodically.
  3. CD Setup at national level: Three tier structure as given below has been created to formulate and implement CD policy.
    1. Civil Defence Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister.
    2. Civil Defence Committee under the Chairmanship of Home Secretary.
    3. Civil Defence Joint Planning Staff Committee under the Chairmanship of Director General Civil Defence.
  4. Civil Defence Setup in the States: The state government appoints a Director of Civil Defence and also may constitute, for any area within the state a body of a person to be called the Civil Defence Corps. 
    1. However, often such organizations remain deactivated. Out of 225 towns from 35 states notified as CD towns, currently the CD organisations at only 130 towns have been activated. 
  5. Civil defence setup at district level: Each town has nucleus of four Permanent Staff along with 400 CD Volunteers for a two lakh population. 
    1. But current strength is < 50% of the target.
  6. CD Training: It is expected that each state will have one CD Training Institute
Home Guard
  1. Role: The role of Home Guards is to serve as an auxiliary to the police in the maintenance of law and order, internal security and help the community in any kind of emergency
  2. Statutory Mechanisms and Service Condition: They are recruited from a cross section of the population such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, private sector organisations, college and university students, agricultural and industrial workers, etc. Home Guards are provided free uniform, duty allowances and awards for gallantry, distinguished and meritorious services. Members of Home Guards with three year service in the organisation are trained to assist police

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP)ox 4.2: National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project
Aim: The scheme aims to upgrade cyclone forecasting, tracking and warning systems, build capacity in multi-hazard risk management and to construct major infrastructures including multi-purpose cyclone shelters and embankments.
Execution Authority: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been designated the implementing agency. The scheme is regularly monitored by NDMA and MHA.
Principal Components: The major components under the scheme are as follows;
• Community mobilisation and training,
• Cyclone Risk Mitigation Infrastructure (construction of cyclone shelters, roads/missing links and construction/repair of Saline Embankments etc.),
• Technical assistance for capacity building on Disaster Risk Management (risk assessment, damage and need assessment),
• Capacity Building and knowledge creation along with project management and implementation support.
Community Based DM

Community-Based Disaster Management (CBDM) gives communities the training required to protect themselves from disasters and its adverse affects.

Preparedness as the key

While the time of occurrence of a big earthquake cannot be predicted accurately with existing technology, the foreknowledge of potential danger areas can help mitigate the impact of a disaster. 

The reason for earthquakes occurring in Nepal is known: the movement of the Indian tectonic plate against the Eurasian plate. Along the Himalayas lie two fault-lines: the Main Boundary Thrust and the Main Central Thrust. Running parallel to the Himalayan ranges to a width of 100 km to 120 km, this region has a history of earthquakes. In the last 120 years, there have been four major events: 1897 (Shillong), 1905 (Himachal Pradesh, Kangra), 1934 (Nepal-Bihar border), 1950 (Arunachal Pradesh, then a part of the North East Frontier Agency or NEFA).

The movement of the Indian tectonic plate against the Eurasian plate has created accumulated stress. This stress is released in a manner that makes predicting earthquakes impossible. When a major event happens, part of the stress is released at that point but accumulates in a different part of the belt. 

Thus there is no natural escape for the region from susceptibility to earthquakes. The best-laid plans for disaster mitigation following quakes can go awry, but some lessons can be learnt from the past. However, as the gap between the occurrence of major earthquakes in a given region could stretch over more than a lifespan, memories can fade and mitigation plans may not be grounded in lived experience. 

The real advancement that has been made recently in India is, for instance, the setting up of many seismological stations, especially after the Bhuj earthquake of 2001. Measurements from these stations and global positioning system data now tell us the Indian plate is moving north at a speed of 5 centimetres a year. This would contribute to stress accumulation and to seismic activity even in Zones 2, 3 and 4. We need to accept earthquakes as a reality and do everything in our power to redefine development plans, especially in terms of building quake-resistant buildings. There should be systematic resort to “disaster drills” to educate the public on what to do during an earthquake. Preparedness is the key to managing any more such disasters.

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