The IAS aspirants should ignore such topics which have a major impact on the country. National Disaster Management Authority and its effectiveness in dealing with disasters occurred in the country have been in news for a long time. The possibility of asking questions based on such issues is higher in IAS Exam. So, read an analysis of NDMA’s effectiveness in the country.
The unique physiographic and climatic conditions make India as a most disaster-prone area of the world. The disasters like floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been periodic phenomena in the country. The rise in disaster vulnerability in India can be related to increasing population, urbanisation, industrialisation, development projects installed within risk-zones, environmental degradation and climate change etc. As per the government official’s data, about 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought in the country. Due to such natural disasters, thousands of lives and properties destroy every year.
Despite significant technological advancement and scientific innovations, we are not able to expedite the exact location and timing of occurrence of natural disasters. Only preparedness and awareness can help people to minimise the magnitude of loss of lives and properties pre and post-disaster. Here, the role of the State is bigger and they can help easily to overcome the impact of such disasters. In this way, the Government of India has taken several measures to set up a responsive authority to manage the impact and consequences of the natural disaster in the country. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up in this regard after the recommendation on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggesting effective mitigation mechanisms by a High-Powered Committee (HPC) and National Committee in August 1999 after Gujarat earthquake.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
The Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act on 23 December 2005, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) headed by the Prime Minister and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.
The NDMA was established with a vision "to build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology-driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation."
NDMA as an apex body in disaster management in the country mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.
How is NDMA effective in its vision to build a safer and disaster resilient India?
In the last few years, sever natural calamity occurred in the country but questions are being raised about the role and poor planning of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to avert the consequences of such disasters. Whether it is organisation issue or the confusion lies in its functioning part, NDMA had not succeeded to keep its vision at par can be cleared from the following points:
- In a performance audit report of the disaster management mechanism in the country prepared by CAG in 2013, it is mentioned that the NDMA neither had information and control over the progress of disaster management work nor could it successfully implement various projects it had initiated for disaster preparedness and mitigation in the state of Uttarakhand before the flood came in 2013. It was possible for the NDMA to lessen the impact of Uttarakhand flood which taken the thousands of lives and properties in the state.
- It has been 8 years of its establishment; the NDMA was functioning without its core advisory committee of experts which was supposed to have at the national, state or district level. While the first advisory committee of experts in the field of disaster management was constituted in 2007 for two years and later extended for one more year but after June 2010 the authority was functioning without the advisory committee. The NDMA has cited the first excuse that the respective ministries had not sent the proposals of the names of experts to be included in the committee.
- The CAG had highlighted persisted loopholes in the functioning of NDMA but the government is still unable to answer such organisational issues. It is said that the NDMA had not able to complete a single major project after 8 years of its establishment. Some of the projects either abandoned midway or were being redesigned because of initial poor planning.
- It had been found that the NDMA was not functioning as per the provisions, given in the NDMA Act 2005 which includes recommending the Government for funds for the purpose of mitigation and relief in repayment of loans or for grant of fresh loans.
- Recently, the Supreme Court of India has criticised “many” states for their negligent approach towards disaster management in the respective states and asked the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to remain ever-vigilant and be ready to deal with any natural disasters. The Supreme Court bench of 2 judges has said that “it is unfortunate that more than ten years after the passage of the (Disaster Management) Act by Parliament, many of the States have not taken adequate steps to ensure that the requirements under the Act were complied with and disaster management plan formulated.” The Supreme Court has stressed on the necessity of setting up of NDMA at the national level and the State Disaster Management Authority at the state level to be ever vigilant and ensure that if any unfortunate disaster strikes, there should be total preparedness and that minimum standard of relief are provided to all concerned.”
There are a lot of improvements to be done on primary basis within NDMA at national and state level. Here are the few improvements required given as follows:
1. The NDMA at the national level should try to follow and implement the basic provisions given in the NDMA Act 2005 as soon as possible.
2. The Central Government should take the matter of Natural Disaster seriously and they should ensure that there must be a core advisory committee of experts and after its term of office form the new committee taking a no-time gape.
3. The NDMA should ensure that every state must have their NDMA and disaster action plan. Also, the states must have an advisory committee in every district and try to gather information regarding the possibility of any disaster and implement the disaster management projects accordingly.
4. The NDMA should take initiatives to deliver and complete the major projects on disaster management on time and also make an effective delivery instrument to cope with the issue of unfinished projects.
The need for an independent authority for the disaster management was sought very late India. It has been 12 years of establishment NDMA in India but no major achievements have been recorded so far. The lax approach of the Governments both at Centre and State is majorly responsible for its ineffective delivery of services on time. In the last 3 years, Government has taken many initiatives to make it more functional and approachable. Apart from the various disaster management projects, the NDA should also work for the community to make it more conscious about disaster prevention preparedness culture and mitigation.
The Indian authority should learn from the disaster preparedness of countries like Japan which had been severely damaged by the tsunami (called Tohoku Earthquake) in March 2013 and now Japanese after Tohoku Earthquake experience of disaster management and mitigation and community involvement has been proven most successful in the world.