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Disaster Management in India- Institutional frame work, a critical analysis

Disaster is a crisis situation that far exceeds the capabilities.- Quarentelly, 1985.

Despite the rapid development of technologies human being is not capable enough to withstand power of nature. Disasters are as old as history. Though mankind developed certain traditional measures to meet the calamities, those are appeared to be not effective all the time. Industrialisation and urbanisation's expanded the human civilisation which in turn forced him to encroach the nature and exploiting it beyond the limit leading to environmental degradation.

This indiscriminate tampering with the environment eventually resulted in catastrophes. Disaster knows no class. It affects all alike. Over the past decades there is a substantive increase in disaster loss in developing countries. Eventually it adversely affects the economic ability of these countries. WHO has given a broad definition to 'disaster'.

According to the definition of WHO a disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society that causes widespread human, material, economic, and environmental losses. These losses generally exceed the ability of the affected community or society to resolve with only its own resources.

Therefore the broad objective of the disaster management policy are to minimise the loss of lives, social and community assets and contribute to sustainable development and a better standard of living for all, more specifically for the poor and vulnerable sectors by ensuring that the development gains are not lost through natural calamities /disasters. In the introductory part of this paper the authors discuss the conceptualisation of disaster management in India.

They further examine efficacy of the disaster management in the country by analysing institutional mechanism established in India under the Disaster management Act 2005. Finally the authors attempt to highlight operational flaws in our disaster management in the back drop of the recent tragedy in Uttaraghand.

Over the past decades there is a substantive increase in disaster loss in developing countries. Eventually it adversely affects the economic ability of these countries. WHO has given a broad definition to 'disaster'? According to the definition of WHO a disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society that causes widespread human, material, economic, and environmental losses. These losses generally exceed the ability of the affected community or society to resolve with only its own resources.

Therefore the broad objective of the disaster management policy are to minimise the loss of lives, social and community assets and contribute to sustainable development and a better standard of living for all, more specifically for the poor and vulnerable sectors by ensuring that the development gains are not lost through natural calamities /disasters. Happening of these catastrophes highly depend on the vulnerability of those regions to disasters. Simply put, roots of vulnerability can be traced under the following heads.

Generally Disasters can be classified into two:
  1. Natural disasters. Example � earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc.
  2. Man Made disasters. Example � war, bomb blasts, chemical leaks, etc.
The phases of all disasters be it natural or Man Made, are the same. The disasters often differ in quantity of damage caused or in quality of the type of medical consequences. For example earthquakes cause a lot of physical injury and fractures, floods cause drowning deaths and infections, chemical leaks cause toxic manifestations, etc.

Institutional and Policy Framework
India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been frequent phenomena. 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 decade 1990-2000, an average of about 4344 people lost their lives and about 30 million people were affected by disasters every year. [2]

As far as India is concerned Disaster management is not a novel concept. Even in ancient India droughts were successfully managed through conventional water conservation methods. Indigenous safety measures have been found out by the people. Drought-oriented farming methods are still prevalent in many parts of our country.

Post Independent India witnessed certain right move in this direction. Several schemes such as Drought Prone Area Program (DPAP), Desert Development Program (DDP), National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) and Integrated Water Development Project (IWDP) have been introduced. Interestingly the subject of disaster management is not mentioned in any of the three lists in the Indian Constitution. In India Disaster management is a part of the Right to sustainable development. The Supreme Court has given a broad definition to disaster management in N.D.Jayal v. Union of India.[3]

In the word's of Honorable Justice Rajendra Babu Disaster management means all aspects of planning , coordinating and implementing all measures which are necessary or desirable to prevent ,minimise ,overcome, or to stop the spread of a disaster upon the people or any property and includes all stages of rescue and immediate relief. It is a proven fact that lot of human suffering and misery from large number of disasters can be mitigated by taking timely actions, planning and preventive measures. It is possible only through well functioning disaster management framework.

This will enable us to minimize, control and limit the effects of disaster and will streamline the disaster management exercises. Our present relief centred re-active approach after the striking of disaster need to be changed into preparedness oriented pro-active attitude. This is the aim of pre-disaster preparations. Disaster Management Plans has to play an integral role in this exercise. They are blue prints for the management of disasters. The Disaster Management Plans should contain the aspects of disaster prevention and of ways for its management in the untoward occurrence of a disaster. A proper plan will place the disaster management exercise on a more firm foundation.

.....Disaster Management activities should be integrated with the developmental activities. Incidentally, this is also the resolve of the Yokohama Strategy of the United Nations International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction, to which India is a party. There is an affirmative obligation on the part of the State to preserve and protect human life and property. This obligation is an integral element in fulfilling developmental endeavours.

Therefore, disaster management cannot be separated from sustainable development.''
A high power committee on Disaster management was constituted in 1999. Committee recommended that at least 10 percent of plan funds at the national, state and district levels be allocated and apportioned for schemes that specifically address areas such as prevention, reduction, preparedness and mitigation of disasters. Presently several Institutions like the Ministry of Home Affairs (Disaster Management Division), National Institute for Disaster Management (New Delhi), Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), Orissa State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Disaster Mitigation Institute (Ahmedabad) etc are working particularly on disaster management theme.

It was the impact of Tsunami in 2004 that catalysed the approach of the law makers in India to legislate on disaster management. Thus in India, the Disaster Management Act was passed in 2005.

It provides for the constitution of the following institutions at national, state and district levels:
  1. National Disaster Management Authority
  2. State Disaster Management Authorities
  3. District Disaster management Authorities
  4. National Institute for Disaster Management
  5. National Disaster Response Force

According to the Act, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was established in 2006 with Prime Minister as its ex officio chairman. Major roles that the NDMA is expected to perform are: policy making, approve national Disaster Management plan, formulate guidelines to be followed by Central ministries and state authorities, and stretch its helping hand to other countries affected by major disasters. Thereafter the National Executive Committee (NEC) developed National Policy of Disaster Management, which was approved in 2009. Though India has faced major disasters National Executive Committee of NDMA has not been convened in between 2008 and 2012.

At the national level, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal Ministry for all matters concerning disaster management. The Central Relief Commissioner (CRC) in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal officer to coordinate relief operations for natural disasters. The CRC receives information relating to forecasting/warning of a natural calamity from India Meteorological Department(IMD) or from Central Water Commission of Ministry of Water Resources on a continuing basis.

The Ministries/Departments/Organizations concerned with the primary and secondary functions relating to the management of disasters include:
ndia Meteorological Department, Central Water Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Urban Development, Department of Communications, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Petroleum, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation.

Ministry of Power, Department of Civil Supplies, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Planning Commission, Cabinet Secretariat, Department of Surface Transport, Ministry of Social Justice, Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Department of Food. Each Ministry/Department/Organization nominates their nodal officer to the Crisis Management Group chaired by Central Relief Commissioner. The nodal officer is responsible for preparing sect oral Action Plan/Emergency Support Function Plan for managing disasters.

National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC)
Cabinet Secretary, who is the highest executive officer, heads the NCMC. Secretaries of all the concerned Ministries /Departments as well as organizations are the members of the Committee The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary. The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for ensuring that all developments are brought to the notice of the NCMC promptly. The NCMC can give directions to any Ministry/Department/Organization for specific action needed for meeting the crisis situation.

Crisis Management Group
The Central Relief Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the Chairman of the CMG, consisting of senior officers (called nodal officers) from various concerned Ministries. The CMG'sfunctions are to review every year contingency plans formulated by various Ministries/Departments/Organizations in their respective sectors, measures required for dealing with a natural disasters, coordinate the activities of the Central Ministries and the State Governments in relation to disaster preparedness and relief and to obtain information from the nodal officers on measures relating to above. The CMG, in the event of a natural disaster, meets frequently to review the relief operations and extend all possible assistance required by the affected States to overcome the situation effectively. The Resident Commissioner of the affected State is also associated with such meetings.

Control Room (Emergency Operation Room)
An Emergency Operations Centre (Control Room) exists in the nodal Ministry of Home Affairs, which functions round the clock, to assist the Central Relief Commissioner in discharging his duties. The activities of the Control Room include collection and transmission of information concerning natural calamity and relief, keeping close contact with governments of the affected States, interaction with other Central Ministries/Departments/Organizations in connection with relief, maintaining records containing all relevant information relating to action points and contact points in Central Ministries etc., keeping up-to-date details of all concerned officers at the Central and State levels.

Contingency Action Plan
A National Contingency Action Plan for dealing with contingencies arising in the wake of natural disasters has been formulated by the Government of India and it had been periodically updated. It facilitates the launching of relief operations without delay. The CAP identifies the initiatives required to be taken by various Central Ministries/Departments in the wake of natural calamities, sets down the procedure and determine the focal points in the administrative machinery.

State Relief Manuals
Each State Government has relief manuals/codes which identify that role of each officer in the State for managing the natural disasters. These are reviewed and updated periodically based on the experience of managing the disasters and the need of the State.

Funding mechanisms
The policy and the funding mechanism for provision of relief assistance to those affected by natural calamities is clearly laid down. These are reviewed by the Finance Commission appointed by the Government of India every five years. The Finance Commission makes recommendation regarding the division of tax and non-tax revenues between the Central and the State Governments and also regarding policy for provision of relief assistance and their share of expenditure thereon. A Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) has been set up in each State as per the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission.

The size of the Calamity Relief Fund has been fixed by the Finance Commission after taking into account the expenditure on relief and rehabilitation over the past 10 years. The Government of India contributes 75% of the corpus of the Calamity Relief Fund in each State. 25% is contributed to by the State. Relief assistance to those affected by natural calamities is granted from the CRF. Overall norms for relief assistance are laid down by a national committee with representatives of States as members.

Different States can have State specific norms to be recommended by State level committee under the Chief Secretary. Where the calamity is of such proportion that the funds available in the CRF will not be sufficient for provision of relief, the State seeks assistance from The National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF)

It is a fund created at the Central Government level. When such requests are received, the requirements are assessed by a team from the Central Government and thereafter the assessed requirements are cleared by a High Level Committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. In brief, the institutional arrangements for response and relief are well established and have proved to be robust and effective.

In the federal set up of India, the basic responsibility for undertaking rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures in the event of a disaster is that of the State Government concerned. At the State level, response, relief and rehabilitation are handled by Departments of Relief & Rehabilitation. The State Crisis Management Committee set up under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary who is the highest executive functionary in the State. All the concerned Departments and organisations of the State and Central Government Departments located in the State are represented in this Committee. This Committee reviews the action taken for response and relief and gives guidelines/directions as necessary.

A control room is established under the Relief Commissioner. The control room is inconstant touch with the climate monitoring/forecasting agencies and monitors the action being taken by various agencies in performing their responsibilities.

The district level is the key level for disaster management and relief activities. The Collector/Dy. Commissioner is the chief administrator in the district. He is the focal point in the preparation of district plans and in directing, supervising and monitoring calamities for relief. A District Level Coordination and Relief Committee is constituted and is headed by the Collector as Chairman with participation of all other related government and non governmental agencies and departments in addition to the elected representatives.

The Collector is required to maintain close liaison with the district and the State Governments as well as the nearest units of Armed Forces/Central police organisations and other relevant Central Government organisations like Ministries of Communications, Water Resources, Drinking Water, Surface Transport, who could supplement the efforts of the district administration in the rescue and relief operations. The efforts of the Government and non-governmental organisations for response and relief and coordinated by the Collector/Dy. Commissioner.

The District Magistrate/Collector and Coordination Committee under him reviews preparedness measures prior to a impending hazard and coordinate response when the hazard strikes. As all the Departments of the State Government and district level report to the Collector, there is an effective coordination mechanism ensuring holistic response.

New institutional mechanisms
As has been made clear above, the existing mechanisms had based on post-disaster relief and rehabilitation and they have proved to be robust and effective mechanisms in addressing these requirements. The changed policy/approach, however, mandates a priority to full disaster aspects of mitigation, prevention and preparedness and new institutional and policy mechanisms are being put in place to address the policy change.

It is proposed to constitute a National Emergency Management Authority at the National level. The High Powered Committee on Disaster Management which was set up in August, 1999 and submitted its Report in October, 2001, had interalia recommended that a separate Department of Disaster Management be set up in the Government of India. It was; however, felt that conventional Ministries/Departments have the drawback of not being flexible enough especially in terms of the sanction procedures.

The organisation at the Apex level will have to be multi-disciplinary with experts covering a large number of branches. The National Emergency Management Authority has, therefore, been proposed as a combined Secretariat/Directorate structure � a structure which will be an integral part of the Government and, therefore, will work with the full authority of the Government while, at the same time, retaining the flexibility of a field organisation.

The National Emergency Management Authority will be headed by an officer of the rank of Secretary/Special Secretary to the Government in the Ministry of Home Affairs with Special Secretaries/Additional Secretaries from the Ministries/Departments of Health, Water Resources, Environment & Forests ,Agriculture, Railways, Atomic Energy, Defence, Chemicals, Science &Technology, Telecommunications, Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Rural Development and India Meteorological Department as Members of the Authority. The Authority would meet as often as required and review the status of warning systems, mitigation measures and disaster preparedness. When a disaster strikes, the Authority will coordinate disaster management activities.

The Authority will be responsible for:
  1. Coordinating/mandating Government's policies for disaster reduction/mitigation.
  2. Ensuring adequate preparedness at all levels in order to meet disasters.
  3. Coordinating response to a disaster when it strikes.
  4. Coordination of post disaster relief and rehabilitation.

The National Emergency Management Authority will have a core permanent secretariat with three divisions � one for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation &Rehabilitation, the other for Preparedness and the third for Human Resource Development.

At the State level, disaster management was being handled by the Departments of Relief & Rehabilitation. As the name suggests, the focus was almost entirely on post-calamity relief. The Government of India is working with the State Governments to convert the Departments of Relief &Rehabilitation into Departments of Disaster Management with an enhanced area of responsibility to include mitigation and preparedness apart from their present responsibilities of relief and rehabilitation. The changeover has already happened in eight State Governments/Union Territory Administrations. The change is under process in other States.

The States have also been asked to set up Disaster Management Authorities under the Chief Minister with Ministers of relevant Departments [Water Resources, Agriculture, Drinking Water Supply, Environment & Forests, Urban Development, Home, Rural Development etc.] as members. The objective of setting up an Authority is to ensure that mitigation and preparedness is seen as the joint responsibility of all the Departments concerned and disaster management concerns are mainstreamed into their programmes. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach is the key to effective mitigation.

At the district level, the District Magistrate who is the chief coordinator will be the focal point for coordinating all activities relating to prevention, mitigation and preparedness apart from his existing responsibilities pertaining to response and relief. The District Coordination and Relief Committee is being reconstituted/re-designated into Disaster Management Committees with officers from relevant departments being added as members.

Because of its enhanced mandate of mitigation and prevention, the district heads and departments engaged in development will now be added to the Committee so that mitigation and prevention is mainstreamed into the district plan. The existing system of drawing up preparedness and response plans will continue. There will, however, also be along term mitigation plan. District Disaster Management Committees have already been constituted in several districts and are in the process of being constituted in the remaining multi-hazard prone districts.

Similarly, we are in the process of creating Block/Taluq Disaster Management Committees in these 169 multi-hazard prone districts in 17 States. At the village level, in 169 multi-hazard prone districts, we are constituting Disaster Management Committees and Disaster Management Teams. Each village will have a Disaster Management Plan. The process of drafting the plan has already begun. The Disaster Management Committee which draws up the plans consists of elected representatives at the village level, local authorities, Government functionaries including doctors/paramedics of primary health centres located in the village, primary school teachers etc.

The plan encompasses prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures. The Disaster Management Teams at the village level will consist of members of voluntary organisations like Nehru Yuva Kendra and other non-governmental organisations as well as able bodied volunteers from the village. The teams are provided basic training in evacuation, search and rescue etc. The Disaster Management Committee will review the disaster management plan at least once in a year.

It would also generate awareness among the people in the village about dos' and don'ts for specific hazards depending on the vulnerability of the village. A large number of village level Disaster Management Committees and Disaster Management Teams have already been constituted.

The States have been advised to enact Disaster Management Acts. These Acts provide for adequate powers for authorities coordinating mitigation, preparedness and response as well as for mitigation/prevention measures required to be undertaken. Two States [Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh] have already enacted such a law. Other States are in the process. The State Governments have also been advised to convert their Relief Codes into Disaster Management Codes by including aspects of prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

In order to further institutionalize the new approach, the Government of India have decided to enunciate a National Policy on Disaster Management. A draft policy has accordingly been formulated and is expected to be put in place shortly. The policy shall inform all spheres of Central Government activity and shall take precedence over all existing sect oral policies.

The broad objectives of the policy are to minimize the loss of lives and social, private and community assets because of natural or manmade disasters and contribute to sustainable development and better standards of living for all, more specifically for the poor and vulnerable sections by ensuring that the development gains are not lost through natural calamities/disasters.

The policy notes that State Governments are primarily responsible for disaster management including prevention and mitigation, while the Government of India provides assistance where necessary as per the norms laid down from time to time and proposes that this overall framework may continue.

However, since response to a disaster requires coordination of resources available across all the Departments of the Government, the policy mandates that the Central Government will, in conjunction with the State Governments, seek to ensure that such a coordination mechanism is laid down through an appropriate chain of command so that mobilization of resources is facilitated.

The broad features of the draft national policy on disaster management are enunciated below:
  1. A holistic and pro-active approach for prevention, mitigation and preparedness will be adopted for disaster management.
  2. Each Ministry/Department of the Central/State Government will set apart an appropriate quantum of funds under the Plan for specific schemes/projects addressing vulnerability reduction and preparedness.
  3. Where there is a shelf of projects, projects addressing mitigation will be given priority. Mitigation measures shall be built into the on-going schemes/programmes
  4. Each project in a hazard prone area will have mitigation as an essential term of reference. The project report will include a statement as to how the project addresses vulnerability reduction.
  5. Community involvement and awareness generation, particularly that of the vulnerable segments of population and women has been emphasized as necessary for sustainable disaster risk reduction. This is a critical component of the policy since communities are the first responders to disasters and, therefore, unless they are empowered and made capable of managing disasters, any amount of external support cannot lead to optimal results.
  6. There will be close interaction with the corporate sector, nongovernmental organisations and the media in the national efforts for disaster prevention/vulnerability reduction.
  7. Institutional structures/appropriate chain of command will be built up and appropriate training imparted to disaster managers at various levels to ensure coordinated and quick response at all levels; and development of inter-State arrangements for sharing of resources during emergencies.
  8. A culture of planning and preparedness is to be inculcated at all levels for capacity building measures.
  9. Standard operating procedures and disaster management plans at stateand district levels as well as by relevant central government departments for handling specific disasters will be laid down.
  10. Construction designs must correspond to the requirements as landowning relevant Indian Standards.
  11. All lifeline buildings in seismic zones III, IV & V � hospitals, railway stations, airports/airport control towers, fire station buildings, bus stands major administrative centres will need to be evaluated and, if necessary, retro-fitted.
  12. The existing relief codes in the States will be revised to develop them into disaster management codes/manuals for institutionalizing the planning process with particular attention to mitigation and preparedness.

With the above mentioned institutional mechanism and policy frame work in position and the actions taken to implement the policy guidelines, it is expected that the task of moving towards vulnerability reduction will be greatly facilitated.

DM a lip service?a criticism in the back drop of Uttaraghand disaster
''Kedarnath has become a ghost town with scores of bodies burried under the earth brought by rain and floods'' expressing its concern over the recent tragedy in Uttarakhand the Supreme Court said.[4]The Court asked NDMA to file a status report on rescue and relief operation in flood -devastated Uttarakhand. Moreover as of late our National Disaster Management Authority was severely criticised by the CAG report. Criticism has been levelled against the NDMA in the backdrop of Utharaghand disaster.

It is said that inadequate flood mitigating measures and lack of early warning system raised the death toll. CAG points out that there had been a lack of coordination between government agencies engaged in rescue operations."In this audit, we found that despite considerable progress in setting up institutions and creating funding arrangements, there are critical gaps in the preparedness level for various disasters," the CAG report said. Due to its improper planning, projects are abandoned mid way or lying incomplete.

Because of their lackadaisical approach, until mid-2012, the National Executive Committee (NEC) had not prepared India's National Plan for Disaster Management. Moreover the Working Group it formed in 2007 never met after its inception. According to the CAG report, till 2012 there were only seven states that had set up State Disaster Management Authorities. Most of the north-eastern states that are also prone to natural disasters do not have SDMA.

Theoretically, we have incorporated disaster mitigation into our developing process. Such an approach is founded on the conviction that development is not sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built into it. New policy gives more emphasis to the disaster mitigation based on the belief that investing in mitigation is more cost effective that relief or rehabilitation.

This approach has been translated into a National Disaster Framework which includes institutional mechanisms, disaster prevention strategy, early warning system, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response and human resource development. In other words a paradigm shiftfrom a relief centric to a holistic, multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approach involving diverse scientific, engineering, social and financial processes.

NDRF also was not free from CAG's criticism. The CAG report cited the response to the 6.9 magnitude earthquake which stuck Sikkim in September 2011, indicating the lack of training and resources of rescue teams ie the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).[5] The report blames that the force was not yet established as a well equipped, well trained specialised one".[6]

It is alleged that NDMA has failed in establishing proper communication system for disaster preparedness and management. Media Reports portray the apathy of NDMA as one of the reasons behind why no immediate relief and rescue work was possible in the flash flood-hit upper reaches of Uttarakhand.[7]CAG blames the Government saying that though 34 crore had been spent on installing the system, when flash flood struck at Utharakhand, the Doppler weather radar [8]for surveillance and monitoring of extreme weather events was not in use. It is alleged that the causalities would have been less had the Uttarakhand Govt implemented the 2005 Act properly. A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court alleging failure in implementing the Disaster management Act 2005 in its true spirit. In that PIL the petitioner points out lack of a uniform policy for compensation to the victims of disasters in the country.

An apex bench headed by Justice A.K. Patnaik sought response from the Central Government, the states and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands on this PIL alleging that the various governments have failed in implementing the act in its fullest sense. Seeking response SupremeCourt issued notice to the governments of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat[9].

On the PIL filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, which claimed that seven states, where natural calamities have wreaked havoc periodically, have not yet implemented the Disaster Management Act more than eight years after the legislation was put in place to ensure quick reaction and adequate rescue mechanisms.[10]

The petitioner sought a direction to the Centre to "grant adequate and reasonable ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life, damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood to victims of flash floods in Uttarakhand under the Disaster Management Act" and rehabilitate those who were orphaned and widowed.Further he sought a direction to the National Disaster Management Authority to issue necessary guidelines to other states to implement the DM Act in letter and spirit.[11]

It is undisputed that launching of development projects in disaster prone areas without proper impact assessment and public participation will intensify the gravity of the disaster.
 Repercussions of chaotic town planning, forest and environmental clearance for developmental projects in a haphazard manner are hazardous. Prompt response of our apex judiciary in this regard is distinctive and estimable.

Taking into account these concerns the Apex Court prohibited setting up of any new hydroelectric power project in Uttrakhand and directed the Centre to constitute an expert body to study environmental degradation caused by such projects. Further the court directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest to constitute an expert body consisting of representatives of the state government, WII (Wild Life Institute of India), Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission and other expert bodies to make a detailed study as to whether hydroelectric power projects existing and under construction have contributed to the environmental degradation, if so to what extent and also whether it has contributed to the present tragedy occurred at Uttarakhand in the month of June.

Most often calamities wipe out massive population from the earth. Though technology has increasingly developed it is an aphorism that still man is not capable enough to withstand the powers of nature.The failures to manage the disasters properly enhance the casualties. Failure of communication and early warning systems, immediate and speedy rescue operations and opening of rehabilitation centres, lack of proper medical treatment etc further add to the gravity of the disaster. In ecologically sensitive regions, disaster management should be a priority. The Uthrakhand experience exposed that India has failed to take adequate precautionary measures in case a disaster occurred.

We are always very late in exact prediction and finding out the actual cause of the disaster. Even if we trace out the actual cause, we are mute in taking further steps. India, from south to north and east to west experience different climate, geography and topography different regions are vulnerable to different types of calamities. Every year thousands will die and even more will suffer the aftermaths of calamities.

It is the failure of the disaster management that enhance the mortality rate. Both union and state governments are all the time irresponsible in their duties in proper handling of the disaster affected different regions. States like Odisha and coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are worst affected by cyclones, Gujarat and some other states are earth quake prone areas, monsoon always bring flood affecting the normal life of the people. All these factors are crystal clear.

NDMA as well as SDMA are not ready to learn lessons from their previous experience with disaster management. They wake up only when disaster occurs and not ready to take precautionary measures, which will, to a great extend, save the lives of many. The government should take measures to ensure that fragility is not disturbed. Effective disaster management should rely on a thorough integration of emergency plans at all levels of government and nongovernment involvement. Activities at each level (individual, group, community) affect the other levels.

  1. *
  3. AIR 2004 SC 867.
  4. available@
  5. Available@ dINDEE93N0F420130424.
  6. supra.
  7. When will we learn to manage disaster?' ChetanChauhan& Zia Haq , Hindustan Times July 06, 2013.Available @
  8. A Doppler radar is a specialized radar that makes use of the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by beaming a microwave signal towards a desired target and listening for its reflection, then analyzing how the frequency of the returned signal has been altered by the object's motion. This variation gives direct and highly accurate measurements of the radialcomponent of a target's velocity relative to the radar. Doppler radars are used in aviation, sounding satellites, meteorology, police speed guns,radiology, and bistatic radar (surface to air missile).
    available @
  10. The Times of India,Jul 20, 2013
  11. available @
Written By: M.Prabhakaran, Ml., Assistant Professor, Dr.Ambedkar Global Law Institute, Tirupati

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