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January 16, 2017

Essay - Disaster Management in India

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  • Define disaster. 
  • Classification of disaster. 
  • Define disaster management and elaborate its contribution to the society.
  • Some important Acts passed by the Government of India to help victims of disasters. 
  • The initiatives taken by NDMA and DRR. 
  • Various governments schemes. 
  • The shortcomings of the role played by the government. 
  • Need of well-equipped and advanced technology to tackle the problem.
Nature knows no limits, when it strikes with all its fury it doesn't differentiate between rich or poor, rural or urban, women or children, it just wrecks havoc on all under its clutch. A disaster is a serious disruption that strikes the areas inhabitated by man. It involves widespread destruction of human, material, environmental loss etc.

Disaster can be classified as natural and man-made disaster. Few of natural disasters are landslides, hurricanes, wildfire, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, drought, hail and tsunamis. Natural disaster may take different form and range or duration, but it is sure to strike loss of life and infrastructure. Whereas natural hazard is a phenomenon where nature strikes unmanned area causing no loss of life or property.

Man-made disasters are disasters caused or induced by human activities. These include hazardous material emergencies like chemical spills and groundwater contamination, power service blackout, radiological emergencies, reservoir induced earthquake, nuclear leakage, terrorism, civil unrest and many more. Man-made disasters are equally vulnerable as they pose great threat to both, people and property.

Disaster management comes into light as India has suffered great loss of life and property in the past. Disaster management is a very important process which can be defined as proactive measures to mitigate loss of life and property, measures to rescue, relief, rehabilitation and recovery. It is creation of plans through which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. It does not eliminate the disaster but strikes to minimise its effect. It is very important for the societies and nations to value this concept as the failure to realise or plan and create an effective armour may lead to human mortality, loss of revenue and damage to assets. Government has put a strong foot forward in order to create a standard plan for disaster management by passing and implementing various laws and acts.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides the institutional, legal, financial and coordination mechanism at centre, state, district and panchayat or municipality level. This act also establishes National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister with tenure of five years.

It assists in laying down plans and policies for effective management and implementation of Disaster Management Act. It also has provision for establishing National Disaster Management Force and National Institute of Disaster Management. National Disaster Management Force has played key roles in the recent Jammu and Kashmir floods 2014, Hud. Hud cyclone 2014, Chennai floods 2015 and Nepal earthquake 2015.

National Executive Committee under the act provides for preparation of a blueprint for National Disaster Management Plan and to ensure its timely review and update. Secretary level officer of Government of India chairs the National Executive Committee. The act has been under flak for its structural and functional rigidities and the centralising attitude of the bureaucrats chairing the various offices. It is therefore, imperative that for a seamless coordination among state and NGOs, a swift action plan in time of disaster be chalked out for greater effectiveness and efficiency of NDMA.

Under the same Disaster Management Act the provision for authority at state and district level is mentioned. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a policy which highlights the broader modalities for disaster mitigation.

Major areas underlined in DRR are Mainstreaming DRR into developmental strategy; increasing awareness and preparedness; strengthening early warning system with the assistance of science and technology; strengthening rescue and relief mechanisms'', better rehabilitation and reconstruction. Various government schemes which Government of India administers in sectors to minimise the impact of disaster are health, food security, agriculture, rural and urban development, drinking water, housing etc.

Health programmes under the aegis of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are National Health Mission for Rural and Urban areas separately. Some very successful programmes are Polio eradication programmes, vector born disease control, national immunisation scheme Indradhanush' etc.

For food security, welfare programmes under government includes national food security act, programmes for lactating mothers providing adequate nutrition viz Iron and folic acid to mother and child.

These programmes take care of the sustainable development goals of reducing hunger and malnutrition which has the potential to irreparably damage the future generation which is a slow brewing disaster.

Under agriculture category various new schemes like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (Crop insurance scheme), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (Irrigation programmes), Soil Health Card Scheme and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (Organic farming scheme) have been launched.

These schemes will effectively save the hard work done by farmers from natural disasters like drought, flood, insect infestation; irrigation programme will ensure adequate supply of water thereby reducing instances of farmer suicides in the drought prone areas viz Vidarbha, Telangana etc.

Housing schemes launched in recent times includes Housing for All, 2022 (urban) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin (rural). These will serve the purpose of saving the marginalised from disasters like extreme temperatures (heat waves and dipping mercury) and torrential rains or cyclone.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was based on the idea of being hitherto reactive to proactive approach. However, the recent LIttarakhand flood suggests business as usual approach. Also the policy compliance is weak at various levels of government. Buildings are not on conformity with Bureau of India Standards, resilient infrastructures and fire trucks accessible residential areas are a rarity. Moreover, systemic inefficiencies have led to rigidities in reinforcing government's developmental programmes into mainstream. Technological advancement has been integrated to some extent, yet a lot of untouched areas remain vulnerable.

Funding for disaster management is another area of bottleneck. According to a World Bank report India loses 2% of its GDP due to disaster every year. Moreover, in India the disaster assessment is done only on the face value. The way these disaster affects the livelihood of the victims is not accounted for. Disaster is a state subject in India. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide assistance and support in every form.

We have two institutional funds in India namely, National Disaster Management Fund and National Disaster Mitigation Fund. We also have a crisis management committee at the national level headed by the cabinet secretary and major departments of government but we still need well equipped and learned technology, sufficient funding, community participation and coordinated effort at all levels to avoid or reconstruct the loss and damage incurred.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Fury unrestrained or violent anger
  • Wrecks ruin or destruction of anything
  • Havoc a situation in which there is much destruction or confusion
  • Proactive controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems
  • Mitigate to make less severe, harmful or painful
  • Flak anti-aircraft fire
  • Seamless smoothly continuous or uniform in quality
  • Chalked to mark or write; a score
  • Modalities an attribute or circumstance that denotes mode or manner
  • Aegis the power to protect or control
  • Hitherto until now
  • Averted to turn away or aside
  • Torrential coming in a large, fast stream. 
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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