Short essay on the concept of Disaster management in India



India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic condi­tions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been recurrent 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. The loss in terms of private, community and public assets has been astronomical.

At the global level, there has been considerable concern over natural disasters. Even as s scientific and material progress is made, the loss of lives and property due to disasters has not decision. In fact, the human toll and economic losses have mounted.

It was in this background that the Nations General Assembly, in 1989, declared the decade 1990-2000 as the International Natural Disaster Reduction with the objective to reduce loss of lives and property and restrict economic damage through concerted international action, especially in developing countries.

Over the past couple of years, the Government of India has brought about a paradigm shift in approach to disaster management. The new approach proceeds from the conviction that develop cannot be sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built into the development process.

Another stone of the approach is that mitigation has to be multi-disciplinary spanning across all sectors. The new policy also emanates from the belief that investments in mitigation are much cost effective than expenditure on relief and rehabilitation.

Disaster management occupies an important place in this country's policy framework as it is poor and the under-privileged who are worst affected on account of calamities/disasters.

The steps being taken by the Government emanate from the approach outlined above. The app: has been translated into a National Disaster Framework [a roadmap] covering institutional mechanic; disaster prevention strategy, early warning system, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response human resource development.

The expected inputs, areas of intervention and agencies to be in at the National, State and district levels have been identified and listed in the roadmap. This road has been shared with all the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations.

Ministries Departments of Government of India, and the State Governments/UT Administrations have been ad* to develop their respective roadmaps taking the national roadmap as a broad guideline. There is, therefore: now a common strategy underpinning the action being taken by the entire participating organisation' stakeholders.

The approach is being put into effect through:

(a) Institutional changes

(b) Enunciation of policy

(c) Legal and techno-legal framework

(d) Mainstreaming Mitigation into Development process

(e) Funding mechanism

(f) Specific schemes addressing mitigation

(g) Preparedness measures

(h) Capacity building

(i) Human Resource Development and, above all, community participation.

In India, the role of emergency management falls to National Disaster Management of India, a government agency subordinate to the Ministry of Home Affairs. In recent years, there has been a shift in emphasis, from response and recovery to strategic risk management and reduction, and from a government-centered approach to decentralized community participation.

Survey of India, an agency within the Ministry of Science and Technology, is also playing a role in this field, through bringing the academic knowledge and research expertise of earth scientists to the emergency management process.