The Government of India (GOI) recognized the importance of Disaster Management (DM) as a national priority. As a consequence, GOI set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in 1999, which was followed by a National Committee after the Gujarat earthquake (2001). The mandate of the above committee was to make recommendations regarding Disaster Management plans and to suggest effective mitigation mechanisms for disasters.
The Tenth Five-Year Plan had recommendations regarding Disaster Management. Further, the Twelfth Finance Commission had a mandate to review the financial arrangements for Disaster Management in India at all levels of the government.
Thereafter, in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the Government of India took a decisive step. In 2005, GoI enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) at the national level. NDMA is to be headed by the Prime Minister. At the state level, State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) was envisaged. They were to be headed by the Chief Minister of the respective states.
NDMA is headed by the Prime Minister, who is the ex-officio chairperson of NDMA and can have up to nine other members, who are nominated by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also appoints one of the members as vice-chairperson of the NDMA, who enjoys the rank of a cabinet minister. The other members have a rank equivalent to the minister of state.
NDMA is an apex Body of GoI and it is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs. It has the mandate to lay down policies for disaster management. The phrase disaster management (DM) as per the official NDMA website means- measures for the prevention, mitigation of any disaster, reducing the risk of any disaster or the magnitude of its consequences. It also involves capacity building, prompt response to developing disaster situations, evacuation of survivors, rescue, relief, rehabilitation after disasters and reconstruction to build back better after disasters.
As per the official NDMA website, the aim of the NDMA is - To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, proactive, tech-driven and sustainable strategy that involves all stakeholders in the planning process and fosters a culture where prevention, preparedness and mitigation are integrated into the planning process.
- To promote a culture of prevention and preparedness by making disaster management a priority.
- To encourage mitigation measures based on the latest technology and in a manner that is environmentally sustainable.
- Disaster management concerns should be mainstreamed into the development planning process at all levels of the government.
- To put in place a streamlined regulatory and compliance framework that is up to date in technological and legalities.
- To develop contemporary forecasting and early warning system backed by redundant systems that ensure functionality in all conceivable contingencies.
- To promote a productive partnership with the Civil Society groups and the Corporate Sector to develop capacities for Disaster management and to create awareness among all stakeholders,
- To ensure efficient response and relief with an empathetic attitude towards those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of the disaster.
- To make reconstruction an opportunity to “build back better” and construct disaster-resilient infrastructure.
NDMA is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster management. These are aimed to ensure prompt response to disasters. In pursuance of this, it has the following responsibilities-
- To lay down policies on disaster management;
- To approve the National Plan for Disaster management;
- To approve the plans prepared by the Ministries of the GoI in accordance with the design of the National Plan;
- To lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plans for Disaster management;
- To lay down guidelines to be followed by ministries of the GoI for prevention of disaster and mitigation;
- To coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the plans for disaster management;
- To recommend the quantum of funds for the purpose of mitigation of disasters;
- To provide support to other countries affected by disasters as may be decided by the GoI;
- To take measures for the prevention and mitigation of disasters, preparedness and capacity building of all stakeholders;
- To lay down the policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM).
In addition to the above functions, NDMA also performs some other functions such as-
- Recommending guidelines for relief to be provided to people who have been affected by disasters.
- Recommending relief in repayment of loans and other concessional credit facilities to people who have been affected by disasters.
- Superintendence, control and direction of NDRF, which has been created for the purpose of a specialised and focused response to disasters.
STATE DISASTER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (SDMA)
All State Governments are required to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA). The SDMA consists of the Chief Minister of the State, who is the Chairperson, and eight or less than eight appointed by the Chief Minister. State Executive Committee (SEC) is responsible for drawing up the state disaster management plan. The SDMA is also mandated to ensure that all the departments of the State government prepare disaster management plans as prescribed by the higher authorities.
DISTRICT DISASTER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (DDMA)
All State Governments are required to establish a District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). The Chairperson of District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) is the Collector of the district. The elected representatives of the area are also members of the DDMA as ex officio members.
The DDMA is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing measures for Disaster management and disaster preparedness.
This Policy framework (NDMA) is also in conformity with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The themes that underpin this policy are:
- Community-based disaster management
- Capacity development
- Consolidation of past initiatives and best practices to capitalise on lessons learnt.
- Cooperation with agencies at the national, regional, sub-regional and international levels to ensure concerted efforts.
Subsequently, the Prime Minister also released the National Disaster Management Plan -2016 to bring the extant Disaster management preparedness structure in tune with the Sendai guidelines. The plan is based on the themes of the “Sendai Framework,” which are as follows:
- understanding disaster risk;
- improving disaster risk governance;
- investing in disaster risk reduction (through structural and non-structural measures) and disaster preparedness, early warning;
- building back better in the aftermath of a disaster.