DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN INDIA

 DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN INDIA

 

Disaster Management in India:

 

Phases of disaster management:

 

 

 

 

 

Phase 1:

Before the Crisis (Risk reduction)

 

Preparedness: This is the period when the potential hazard, risk and vulnerabilities can be assessed and steps can be taken for:

·       Preventing and mitigating the crisis, and

·       Preparing for actual occurrence.

Crisis can also be mitigated through various short-term measures which either reduce the scale and intensity of the threat or improve the durability and capacity of the elements at risk. For example, better enforcement of building codes and zoning regulations, proper maintenance of drainage systems, better awareness and public education to reduce the risks of hazards, etc. help in containing the damage.

Phase 2:

During the Crisis (Response)

 

Emergency Response: When a crisis actually occurs, those affected by it require a speedy response to alleviate and minimize suffering and losses. In this phase, certain ‘primary activities’ become indispensable. These are:

1. Evacuation

2. Search and rescue, followed by

3. Provision of basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medicines and other necessities essential for bringing being the life of the affected community back to a degree of normalcy.

 

 

 

Phase 3:

Post Crisis (Recovery)

 

·       Recovery: This is the stage when efforts are made to achieve early recovery and reduce vulnerability and future risks. It comprises activities that encompass two overlapping phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

·       Rehabilitation: Includes provision of temporary public utilities and housing as interim measures to assist long term recovery.

·       Reconstruction: Includes construction of damaged infrastructure and habitats and enabling sustainable livelihoods.

 

Elements of Disaster Management:

 

Risk Reduction (Enhancing Resilience)

  • Disaster risk reduction strategies have the potential to save thousands of lives by adoption of simple preventive measures. Lack of coherent disaster reduction strategies and the absence of a ‘culture of prevention’ are the major causes for increasing casualties due to disasters. Disaster risk reduction (disaster reduction) has been defined as the systematic development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimize vulnerabilities, hazards and the unfolding of disaster impacts throughout a society, in the broad context of sustainable development’.
  • Disaster reduction strategies include appraisal of likelihood and intensity of hazards and analysis of vulnerabilities thereof to the community. Building of institutional capabilities and community preparedness is the next step. Crucial to all these efforts, however, is the existence of a ‘safety culture’ in societies. Inputs like education, training and capacity building play a very significant role. It needs to be understood that such preparedness cannot be a ‘one time’ effort, but is a continuous process.
  • Knowledge plays an important role in disaster reduction. The traditional knowledge available with the community has to be used along with knowledge acquired through research and past experiences.

 

The disaster risk reduction framework is composed of the following fields of action:

  • Policies towards risk management
  • Assessment of risk, including hazard analysis and vulnerability
  • Generating risk awareness with the help of mass media and social media
  • Preparation of plans for risk mitigation
  • Implementation of the plan
  • Early warning systems with the help of latest technology relating to data capture transmission, analysis and even dissemination
  • Use of knowledge
  • Information: Effective disaster risk management depends on the informed participation of all stakeholders. The exchange of information and easily accessible communication practices play key roles. Data is crucial for ongoing research, national planning, monitoring hazards and assessing risks. The widespread and consistent availability of current and accurate data is fundamental to all aspects of disaster risk reduction.

 

Mitigation:

 

Mitigation involves:

  • Measures aimed at reducing the impact of disasters
  • Efforts to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether
  • Differs from the other phases because it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk
  • It embraces actions taken in advance of a disaster to reduce its effects on a community.

 

Significance of Mitigation:

  • A number of special programmes are in operation for mitigating the impact of natural disasters and local communities have developed their own indigenous coping mechanisms.
  • In the event of an emergency, the mobilisation of community action supported by NGOs adds strength to the national disaster management capacity.
  • Despite initiating various disaster mitigation measures, there has been little improvement. Accordingly, India has taken initiatives for linking disaster mitigation with development plans, promoting the application of effective communication systems and information technology, insurance, extensive public awareness and education campaigns (particularly in rural areas), involving the private sector and strengthening institutional mechanisms and international community cooperation.

 

Quick Response:
  • Quick response can save lives, protect property and lessen disruptions caused by crises. This calls for a total and effective response, which must subsume the coordinated response of the entire governmental system as also the civil society.
  • The response should not only incorporate traditional coping mechanisms, which have evolved over the centuries but also involve meticulous planning and coordination. Cumulative experience with crisis management over the years points to an urgent need for putting in place a holistic and effective response mechanism which is professional, result-oriented, innovative and people-centric.

 

 Quick response entails the following:

  • This phase includes mobilisation of necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency vices, such as fire-fighters, police and ambulance crews. They may be supported by a number of secondary emergency services, such as specialist rescue teams.
  • It entails restoring physical facilities, rehabilitation of affected families/ populations, restoration of lost livelihoods and reconstruction efforts.
  • Retrospectively, it brings to light the flaws in policy and planning with respect to infrastructure, its location, social scheme, etc.

 

Significance:

  • It has immediate mitigation impact and losses can be minimised to a greater degree. According to the estimate of the insurance industry, natural disasters represent 85 per cent insured catastrophe.
  • Thousands of lives lost and millions of people are left weakened each year due to reluctance on part of donors to invest in measures that reduce the impact of disasters. (World Disaster Report 2002)
  • Long term resilience of vulnerable communities.

 

Issues:

  • Coordination among the actors involved (government, civil society and international donor organisation).
  • Recent example is the case of Uttarakhand floods (June 2013) where international organisations found it hard to immediately get government approval to start work.
  • Institutionalisation of disaster response structure at local level.

 

Recovery:
  • In the long-term aftermath of a disaster, when restoration efforts are in addition to regular services, it involves implementation of actions to promote sustainable redevelopment (reconstruction, rehabilitation). It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.
  • The recovery phase starts when the immediate threat to human life has subsided. In the reconstruction, it is desirable to reconsider the location or construction material of the property.
  • Community resilience is a key factor in disaster recovery.

 

This phase encompasses three overlapping phases of 3 R’s:
Relief: It is the period immediately after the disaster when steps are taken to meet the need of survivors.
Rehabilitation: These are activities undertaken to support the victims’ return to normalcy and reintegration in regular community function. It encompasses provision of temporary employment and restoration of livelihood.
Reconstruction: It is an attempt to return communities to improved pre-disaster functioning.

 

Institutional framework:

 

National level:

The overall coordination of disaster management vests with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Cabinet Committee on Security and the National Crisis Management Committee are the key committees involved in the top-level decision making regarding disaster management. The NDMA is the agency responsible for the approval of the National Disaster Management Plan and its implementation.

 

 

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):
  • The Government of India established the NDMA in 2005, headed by the Prime Minister. Under the DM Act 2005, the NDMA, as the apex body for disaster management, shall have the responsibility for laying down the policies and guidelines for disaster management for ensuring timely and effective response to disaster.
  • The guidelines of NDMA will assist the Central Ministries, Departments, and States to formulate their respective DM plans.
  • It will approve the National Disaster Management Plan and DM plans of the Central Ministries/ Departments.
  • It will take such other measures, as it may consider necessary, for the prevention of disasters, or mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building, for dealing with a threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • Central Ministries/ Departments and State Governments will extend necessary cooperation and assistance to NDMA for carrying out its mandate.
  • NDMA has the power to authorise the Departments or authorities concerned, to make emergency procurement of provisions or materials for rescue and relief in a threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • The general superintendence, direction, and control of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are vested in and will be exercised by the NDMA. The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) works within the framework of broad policies and guidelines laid down by the NDMA.
  • The NDMA has the mandate to deal with all types of disasters – natural or human-induced. However, other emergencies such as terrorism (counter-insurgency), law and order situations, hijacking, air accidents, CBRN weapon systems, which require the close involvement of the security forces and/or intelligence agencies, and other incidents such as mine disasters, port and harbour emergencies, forest fires, oilfield fires and oil spills will be handled by the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC).
  • Nevertheless, NDMA may formulate the guidelines with advice/ inputs drawn from experts of DAE and facilitate training and preparedness activities in respect of response to CBRN emergencies with technical advice obtained from experts from DAE.

 

Shortcomings and challenges in NDMA:

  • NDMA’s role during Uttarakhand Flooding in 2013 was questioned, where it failed to timely inform people about the flash floods and landslides. The post disaster relief response had not been upto NDMA’s benchmarks. Experts blamed unfinished projects for flood and landslide mitigation which were resulted due to poor planning of NDMA.
  • A CAG report observed that there were delays in completion of projects under the flood management programmes. It also stated that the projects were not taken up in an integrated manner and blamed NDMA for institutional failures for poor flood management.
    • There were huge delays in completion of river management activitiesand works related to border areas projects which were long-term solutions for the flood problems of Assam, north Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
  • Devastations caused by Kerala Floods in 2018and Chennai Floods in 2015 showed shortcomings in the institutions regarding preparedness for the disaster situation.
  • CAG report, 2015 Chennai Floods termed it as a “man-made disaster” and holds Tamil Nadu government responsible for the catastrophe.
  • The NDRF lack sufficient training, equipment, facilities and residential accommodation to deal with the crisis situation properly.
  • Misutilization of Funds- 
  • Audit findings shows that some states have mis-utilised funds for expenditures that were not authorised for disaster management.
  • There was significant delay in releasing funds. Additionally, some States didn’t invest the funds thereby incurring huge interest losses. This shows financial indiscipline in states regarding management of funds.

 

Way Forward:

  • Policy guidelines at the macro level are needed to inform and guide the preparation and implementation of disaster management and development plans across sectors.
  • Operational guidelines should be formed for integrating disaster management practices into development.
  • Efficient early warning systems coupled with effective response plans at district, state and national levels is the need of the hour.
  • Involve Community, NGOs, CSOs and the mediaat all stages of disaster management.
  • Climate risk management should be addressed through adaptation and mitigation.
  • A dynamic policy is required to develop disaster-resilient infrastructure through proper investment in research. ISRO, NRSA, IMD and other institutions have to collectively provide technological solutions to enhance capabilities to tackle disasters.
  • India should learn from best global practices.

 

National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM):
  • As per the provisions of the Chapter-VII of the DM Act, Government of India constituted the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) under an Act of Parliament with the goal of being the premier institute for capacity development for disaster management in India and the region.
  • The vision of NIDM is to create a Disaster Resilient India by building the capacity at all levels for disaster prevention and preparedness.
  • NIDM has been assigned nodal responsibilities for human resource development, capacity building, training, research, documentation, and policy advocacy in the field of disaster management.
  • The NIDM has built strategic partnerships with various ministries and departments of the central, state, and local governments, academic, research and technical organizations in India and abroad and other bi-lateral and multi-lateral international agencies.
  • It provides technical support to the state governments through the Disaster Management Centres (DMCs) in the Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs) of the States and Union Territories.
  • Some of them are emerging as centres of excellence in the specialised areas of risk management – flood, earthquake, cyclone, drought, landslides, and industrial disasters.

 

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
  • The NDRF has been constituted as per the Chapter-VIII of the DM Act 2005 as a specialist response force that can be deployed in a threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • As per the DM Act, the general superintendence, direction and control of the NDRF shall be vested and exercised by the NDMA.
  • The command and supervision of the NDRF shall vest with the Director General appointed by the Government of India.
  • The NDRF will position its battalions at different locations as required for effective response.
  • NDRF units will maintain close liaison with the designated State Governments and will be available to them in the event of any serious threatening disaster situation.
  • The NDRF is equipped and trained to respond to situations arising out of natural disasters and CBRN emergencies.
  • The NDRF units will also impart basic training to all the stakeholders identified by the State Governments in their respective locations.
  • A National Disaster Response Academy is operational in Nagpur and new infrastructure is being set up to cater to National and international training programmes for disaster management.
  • It has also been decided that Disaster Management Training Wings of four CAPFs (BSF, CRPF, ITBP and CISF) will be merged with this Academy.
  • Experience in major disasters has clearly shown the need for pre-positioning of some response forces to augment the resources at the State level at crucial locations including some in high altitude regions.

 

State level:

  • As per the DM Act of 2005, each state in India/ Union Territory (UT) shall have its own institutional framework for disaster management. Each State/UT will have one nodal department for coordination of disaster management, referred as DM department (DMD), although the name and department is not the same in each State/UT.
  • Among other things, the DM Act, mandates that each State/UT shall take necessary steps for the preparation of State/UT DM plans, integration of measures for prevention of disasters or mitigation into State/UT development plans, allocations of funds, and establish EWS. Depending on specific situations and needs, the State/UT shall also assist the Central Government and central agencies in various aspects of DM. Each state shall prepare its own State Disaster Management Plan.

 

State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA):
  • As per provisions in Chapter-III of the DM Act, each State Government shall establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) or its equivalent as notified by the state government with the Chief Minister as the Chairperson. In case of other UTs, the Lieutenant Governor or the Administrator shall be the Chairperson of that Authority.
  • For the UT of Delhi, the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister shall be the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson respectively of the State Authority.
  • In the case of a UT having Legislative Assembly, except the UT of Delhi, the Chief Minister shall be the Chairperson of the Authority.
  • The SDMA will lay down policies and plans for DM in the State.
  • The SDMA will approve the disaster management plans prepared by various departments.
  • It will, inter alia approve the State Plan in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the NDMA, coordinate the implementation of the State Plan, recommend provision of funds for mitigation and preparedness measures and review the developmental plans of the different departments of the State to ensure the integration of prevention, preparedness and mitigation measures.
  • The State Government shall constitute a State Executive Committee (SEC) to assist the SDMA in the performance of its functions. The SEC will be headed by the Chief Secretary to the State Government.
  • The SEC will coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Policy, the National Plan, and the State Plan. The SEC will also provide information to the NDMA relating to different aspects of DM.

 

District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA):
  • As per provisions in Chapter-IV of the DM Act, each State Government shall establish a District Disaster Management Authority for every district in the State with such name as may be specified in that notification.
  • The DDMA will be headed by the District Collector, Deputy Commissioner, or District Magistrate as the case may be, with the elected representative of the local authority as the Co-Chairperson.
  • The State Government shall appoint an officer not below the rank of Additional Collector or Additional District Magistrate or Additional Deputy Commissioner of the district to be the Chief Executive Officer of the District Authority.
  • The DDMA will act as the planning, coordinating and implementing body for DM at the District level and take all necessary measures for the purposes of DM in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the NDMA and SDMA.
  • It will prepare the DM plan for the District and monitor the implementation of the all relevant national, state, and district policies and plans.
  • The DDMA will also ensure that the guidelines for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response measures laid down by the NDMA and the SDMA are followed by all the district-level offices of the various departments of the State Government.

 

Financial setup:

 

National Disaster Response Fund:
  • The state government is primarily responsible for undertaking rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures in the event of a disaster.
  • At times, its efforts need to be strengthened and supplemented with Central assistance.
  • Providing financial assistance for disaster preparedness, restoration, reconstruction and mitigation in the event of a natural disaster are not part of National Disaster Response Fund’s mandate.
  • In the event of a calamity of a severe nature, where the requirement of funds for relief operations is beyond the funds available in the State’s Disaster Response Fund account, additional Central assistance is provided from National Disaster Response Fund, after following the laid down procedure.
  • As per this procedure, the State Government is required to submit a memorandum indicating the sector wise damage and requirement of funds.
  • On receipt of the memorandum from the State, an inter-Ministerial Central Team is constituted and deputed for an on the spot assessment of damage and requirement of funds for relief operations, as per the extant items and norms of State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund.
  • A Sub-Committee of the NEC will examine the request under Section 6 of the DM Act, 2005. The NEC will assess the extent of assistance and expenditure, which can be funded from the National Disaster Response Fund as per norms and make recommendations.
  • Based on the recommendations of Sub-Committee of the NEC, a High-Level Committee (HLC) will approve the quantum of immediate relief to be released from National Disaster Response Fund.
  • The Disaster Management Division of MHA will provide support to the HLC. The MHA shall oversee the utilisation of funds provided from the National Disaster Response Fund and monitor compliance with norms.

 

State Disaster Response Fund:
  • The State Disaster Response Fund shall be used only for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims of cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack, frost and cold wave.
  • While the state can draw from State Disaster Response Fund for the emergency response and relief, there are provisions to adjust a proportion of the expense against funds released from National Disaster Response Fund between the fiscal year in which National Disaster Response Fund is released and the expenses incurred by state in the previous fiscal year under State Disaster Response Fund.
  • In case the same state faces another severe disaster during the same year, no reduction will be made while releasing assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund. The state-specific disasters within the local context in the State, which are not included in the notified list of disasters eligible for assistance from State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund, can be met from State Disaster Response Fund within the limit of 10 per cent of the annual funds allocation of the State Disaster Response Fund.

 

The two funds have provisions for the following:

  • Gratuitous Relief
  • Search and Rescue operations
  • Relief measures
  • Air dropping of essential supplies
  • Emergency supply of drinking water
  • Clearance of affected area, including management of debris
  • Agriculture, Animal husbandry, fishery, Handicrafts, artisans
  • Repair/ Restoration (of immediate nature) of damaged Infrastructure
  • Capacity development
  • The default period of assistance is as per norms prescribed. However, based on assessment of the ground situation, the SEC may extend it beyond the prescribed time limit subject to the condition that expenditure on this account should not exceed 25 per cent of State Disaster Response Fund allocation for the year.

 

  • National Disaster Mitigation Fund As per Section 47 of the DM Act 2005, Central Government may constitute a National Disaster Mitigation Fund for projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation.

 

The Fourteenth Finance Commission restricted its recommendation to existing arrangements on the financing of the already constituted funds (National Disaster Response Fund and State Disaster Response Fund) only, as per its terms of reference.  The Fourteenth Finance Commission did not make any specific recommendation for a mitigation fund.

 

Legislations dealing with disasters:

 

National Disaster Management Act 2005:

 

Major provisions of the act:

  • The Act calls for the establishment of NDMA, with the Prime Minister ofIndia as chairperson.
  • The Act under Section 8 enjoins the Central Government to constitutea National Executive Committee (NEC) to assist the National Authority.The NEC is composed of secretary-level officers of the Government ofIndia in the Ministries of Home, Agriculture, Atomic Energy, Defence,Drinking Water Supply, Environment and Forests, Finance (expenditure),Health, Power, Rural Development, Science and Technology, Space,Telecommunications, Urban Development and Water Resources, with the Home Secretary serving as the Chairperson, ex-officio. The Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff of the Chiefs of Staff Committee is an ex-officiomember of the NEC. The NEC is responsible for the preparation of theNational Disaster Management Plan for the whole country and to ensurethat it is ‘reviewed and updated annually.
  • All State Governments are mandated under Section 14 of the Act toestablish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA). The SDMAconsists of the Chief Minister of the State, who is the Chairperson, andno more than eight members appointed by the Chief Minister. The StateExecutive Committee is responsible for drawing up the state disastermanagement plan and implementing the National Plan. The SDMA ismandated to ensure that all the departments of the State prepare disastermanagement plans as prescribed by the national and state authorities.
  • The Act directs to establish District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). The Chairperson of DDMA will be the Collector or the DistrictMagistrate or the Deputy Commissioner of the district. The electedrepresentative of the area is member of the DDMA as an ex-officio The district authority shall act as the planning, coordinatingand implementing body for disaster management in the district and takeall measures for the purposes of disaster management in the district inaccordance with the guidelines laid down by the national and stateauthorities.
  • The Act provides for constituting a National Disaster Response Force’for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situationor disaster’ under the Director General to be appointed by the Central
  • The Act contains provision for constitution of National Disaster ResponseFund and National Disaster Mitigation Fund and similar funds at the stateand the district levels.
  • The Act also provides for specific roles to local bodies, including PanchayatiRaj Institutions (PRIS) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in disasterAt the district level, the DM Act 2005 provides for the constitution ofDistrict Disaster Management Authorities under the chairmanship ofthe District Magistrate/Collector while the elected representative of thelocal authority would be the co-chairperson. In those districts where ZillaParishads exist, the chairman would be the ex-officio co-chairperson of theDistrict Disaster Management Authority.
  • The planning process has been carried down to the sub-divisional, blockand village levels. Each village in multi-hazard prone district will have aDisaster Management Plan. The Disaster Management Committee whichdraws up the plans consists of elected representatives at the village level,local authorities, government functionaries, including doctors/paramedicsof primary health centres located in the village, primary school teachers, The plan encompasses prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures. The Disaster Management Teams at the village level consistof members of youth organisations like Nehru Yuva Kendra and othernon-governmental organisations as well as volunteers from the village.The teams are provided basic training in evacuation, search and rescue,first aid trauma counselling, etc. The disaster management committeewill review the disaster management plan at least once in a year. It wouldalso generate awareness among the people in the village about the dos anddon’ts for specific hazards depending on the vulnerability of the village. Alarge number of village level disaster management committees and disastermanagement teams have already been constituted.

 

Initially the Act was criticised for marginalising non-governmental organisations (NGOs), elected local representatives, local communities and civic groups; and for fostering a hierarchical, bureaucratic, command and control, “top down’ approach that gives the central, state and district authorities sweeping powers. But overall, the disaster response has improved to a large extent after the slow and steady implementation of NDMA.

 

 

2nd ARC on National Disaster Management Act 2005:

  • Disaster/Crisis Management should continue to be the primary responsibility of the State Governments and the Union Government should play a supportive role.
  • 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 and relief – detailed guidelines may be stipulated by the NDMA on this subject.
  • The law should make provisions for stringent punishment for misutilization of funds meant for crisis/disaster management. The role of the local governments should be brought to the forefront for crisis/disaster management.
  • 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.

 

COVID-19 and Disaster Management:

  • COVID19 is the first pan India biological disaster being handled by the legal and constitutional institutions of the country.
  • It is for the first time that a pandemic has been recognized as a notified disaster in the country by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Subsequently Disaster Management Act 2005 has also been invoked for the first time to effectively manage this crisis. Till now all nationwide lockdowns has been imposed under DM Act 2005.

 

Issues with Disaster Management Act with reference to COVID19:

  • DM Act has two inherent issues with regards to COVID19:
    • Lack of appropriate legal framework to manage epidemics
    • An over centralization of powers
  • The act was meant to be used in situations where a state government was unable to cope with natural disasters on its own. It was never meant to be a legal mechanism to control the functional state governments.
  • As per the central guidelines on the lockdowns, the state governments exercised powers under the Epidemics Act 1897 to issue further directions. This led to further confusion among the masses, especially the vulnerable sections like migrants, slum dwellers etc.
  • The Central Government has adopted top-down approach. It left states with no maneuvering space that could be used to enforce the lockdowns keeping cultural and social norms in mind.
  • The management of health crisis became an issue of law and order. Major guidelines relating to COVID-19 have been issued by Ministry of Home Affairs and not the Ministry of Health.
  • The DM Act is not capable to deal with fake news and fake warnings being spread through social media and internet.
  • The DM Act imposes criminal liabilities for violation of lockdown orders. This provision is major hurdle for the conduct of economic policy on nationwide scale.
  • The bureaucracy and police administration were entrusted with enforcement of lockdown. But they also got wide ranging discretionary powers in deciding who to permit and who to ban.
  • All the guidelines and policies formed during lockdown have been reactive and ad hoc. This was observed in the way migrant workers have been treated. The migrant issue has also exposed the lack of coordination between the Centre and state governments.

The Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and its limitations:

  • The Act was passed during the outbreak of bubonic plague in Bombay.
  • Over the years this act has been used as a basic framework for containing the spread of various diseases including cholera and malaria.
  • The law authorizes the Central and state governments to take exceptional measures and prescribe regulations to be observed by the citizens to contain the spread of diseases.
  • It also specifies punishments for the violation of the Act.

 

Limitations:

  • The law does not define various terms like ‘dangerous’, ‘infectious’, ‘contagious diseases’ and ‘epidemic’. Also, there are no rules, regulations, procedures mentioned in the act to be followed while declaring disease as epidemic.
  • The act contains no provisions for isolation, quarantine measures and other preventive steps that need to be taken during epidemics.
  • The Act provides powers of states and central government during the epidemics but it fails to mention the duties of governments in preventing and controlling the epidemics. It also fails to mention the rights of citizens during the outbreak of the diseases.

 

Partnerships for Mitigation and Preparedness

Community Based Disaster Preparedness:

  • During any disaster, communities are not only the first to be affected but also the first responders. Community participation ensures local ownership, addresses local needs, and promotes volunteerism and mutual help to prevent and minimize damage. Therefore, the efforts of the States/UTs, in this regard need to be encouraged.
  • The needs of the elderly, women, children and differently abled persons require special attention. Women and youth need to be encouraged to participate in decision making committees and action groups for management of disasters.
  • As first responders to any disaster, communities can be trained in the various aspects of response such as first aid, search and rescue, management of community shelters, psycho-social counseling, distribution of relief and accessing support from government/agencies etc. Community plans can be dovetailed into the Panchayat, Block and District plans.

 

Stakeholders’ Participation

  • The participation of civil society stakeholders can be coordinated by the SDMAs and DDMAs. Civil Defense, NCC, NYKS, NSS and local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can be encouraged to empower the community and generate awareness through their respective institutional mechanisms. Efforts to promote voluntary involvement need to be actively encouraged.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP)

  • Historically, the corporate sector has been supporting disaster relief and rehabilitation activities. However, the involvement of corporate entities in disaster risk reduction activities is not significant. Corporate entities should redefine their business continuity plan to factor in hazards, risks and vulnerabilities. They should also create value in innovative social investments in the community.
  • PPP between the Government and private sector would also be encouraged to leverage the strengths of the latter in disaster management.
  • The NDMA and SDMAs need to network with the corporate entities to strengthen and formalize their role in the DM process for ensuring safety of the communities.

 

Media Partnership

  • The media plays a critical role in information and knowledge dissemination in all phases of DM.
  • The versatile potential of both electronic and print media needs to be fully utilized. Effective partnership with the media will be worked out in the field of community awareness, early warning and dissemination, and education regarding various disasters.