Union Home Minister addressed the 17th formation day of the National Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The theme of this year’s Formation Day is cascading effects of disaster events in the Himalayan region.
As the country marks this occasion, here's a deep dive into the apex body for disaster management in India.
Formation of the NDMA
The NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India on 23 December 2005.
This came after a High-Powered Committee in August 1999 and a National Committee after the Gujarat earthquake, made recommendations to prepare effective mitigating mechanisms.
As per the website, the NDMA's vision is 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".
The NDMA is headed by the Prime Minister of India and can have up to nine mother members. Since 2020, there have been five other members.
The NDMA various responsibilities are as under:
• Lay down policies on disaster management
• Approve the National Plan
• Approve plans prepared by the ministries or departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan
• Lay down guidelines to be followed by the state authorities in drawing up the State Plan
• Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different ministries or departments of the Government of India for the purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects
• Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management
• Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation
• Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government
• Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary
• Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management
It also works closely with the National Institute of Disaster Management for capacity building. It develops practices, delivers hands-on training and organizes drills for disaster management. It also equips and trains disaster management cells at the state and local levels.
The NDMA logo reflects the aspirations of this national vision, of empowering all stakeholders to improve the effectiveness of disaster management in India.
The Map of India, embossed in gold, in the middle of the logo, circumscribed by the National Tricolor represents the aspiration to contain the potential threat of natural and man-made disasters through Capacity Development of all stakeholders.
The outer circle is a golden ring of the partnership of all stakeholders, whose hand-holding is an expression of their solidarity to supplement the efforts of the government.
NDMA in the inner circle in tranquil blue integrates the entire process by empowering all stakeholders at the local, district, state and national levels.
Shortcomings of the NDMA
Questions were raised about the role of NDMA during the Uttarakhand floods of 2013, where it failed to timely inform people about the flash floods and landslides.
The post-disaster relief response had been equally poor. Experts blamed the poor planning of NDMA that lead to unfinished projects for flood and landslide mitigation.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report in 2013 noted that the NDMA had no information and control over the progress of disaster management work in the states, neither could it successfully implement various projects it had initiated for disaster preparedness and mitigation.
It held that there were huge delays in the completion of river management activities and works related to border areas projects which were long-term solutions for the flood problems of Assam, north Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Besides these issues, the CAG report also noted that several critical posts in NDMA were vacant and consultants were used for day-to-day working.
Furthermore, it has been reported that some states have misutilised funds for expenditures that were not sanctioned for disaster management.
COVID-19 and NDMA
The lockdown imposed last year on 25 March to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection was imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
This legal move put the NDMA in charge of handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
By invoking this provision, the authority became the nodal central agency for coordinating with all state governments to contain the pandemic, ensure uniform disaster management plans, and provide relief funds to the states for disaster management.
This was the first time, since the law came into being after the 2004 tsunami, that the NDMA has invoked it.
However, the NDMA has come under criticism of the Supreme Court on the issue of ex-gratia to the family members of those who died due to Covid-19.
With inputs from agencies