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Government initiatives in disaster management
New Delhi: The frequent natural calamities in India and the huge loss of life and property that ensues have forced the government to revise its approach towards disaster management

India is prone to multiple natural disasters, such as floods, earthquake, drought, landslides, cyclone, etc. This is due to various factors like the geo-climatic conditions, increase in population density, improper urbanization, deforestation and desertification. 

 

According to government data, about 60 per cent of the Indian landmass is prone to earthquakes of varying intensities, over 40 million hectares is prone to floods, around eight per cent of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68 per cent of the area is susceptible to drought. In the last decade, the damage in terms of human suffering, loss of life, agriculture productivity and economic losses has been astronomical.

 

At the government level, there has been considerable concern over restricting socio-economic damage. Substantial scientific and material progress has been made in this field for more than five decades. However, the loss of human life and property due to natural and man-made disasters has not decreased.

 

The cyclone in Orissa in 1999, the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001 and the tsunami in South India in 2004 has highlighted the need to adopt a multi dimensional endeavour involving various scientific, engineering and social processes. The need to adopt multi disciplinary and multi sectoral approach and incorporation of risk reduction in the developmental strategies has also been underlined.

 

The basic responsibility of response mechanism, like undertaking rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures in the event of a disaster, rests with the state governments. And, the center supplements the efforts by extending logistics and financial support.

 

The government has formed a National Disaster Framework covering institutional mechanisms, disaster prevention strategy, early warning system, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response and human resource development.

 

The government has set up National Crisis Management Committee and Crisis Management Group. There is a National Committee on Disaster Management to suggest necessary institutional and legislative measures necessary for an efficient and long-term strategy to manage natural disasters. Another committee – High Powered Committee on disaster management plans was constituted in 1999 to prepare comprehensive model plans for management of disasters at the national, state and district levels.

 

 

The state governments have set up state crisis management groups headed by chief secretaries, institutes of relief commissioners and state/district contingency plans. There is a Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) for each state. 75 per cent of the CRF is contributed by the central government and the rest contributed by the various state governments.

 

The disaster management policy of the government stresses on forecasting and warning using advanced technologies, contingency agricultural planning to ensure availability of food grains, and preparedness and mitigation through specific programmes. The central sector scheme for disaster management focuses on setting up National Centre for Disaster Management, disaster management faculties in states and programmes for community participation and public awareness.


Related Articles:
Merinews Special: Lessons from Disaster


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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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