This article is written by Faisal Ali, a student in 2nd year BA LLB Lovely Professional University. This article is dealing with disaster management authorities and responsibilities.
The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the two houses of parliament, passed the Disaster Management Act, 2005 on November 28 and December 12, respectively. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami served as a major impetus for the passage of DMA. On December 23, 2005, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was India’s president at the time, declared it to apply to the entire nation. The Act not only creates national organisations and functionaries, as well as their authorities and duties, but it also creates a thorough framework within which organisations are created at the state, district, and local levels, and officials are chosen to carry out their designated duties and responsibilities in disaster management.
Table of Contents
- The Act, which has 79 parts and 11 chapters, details the establishment of numerous national and local bodies and committees for the efficient enforcement and implementation of disaster management strategies and plans.
- The National Disaster Management Authority is the first and most important organization. (NDMA). The vice-chairperson, who is also chosen by the Prime Minister, is the lone member of the NDMA, which is presided over by him. To ensure an effective response to a disaster, the NDMA is largely in charge of creating guidelines and standards. Making policies, plans, and recommendations for reducing the impact of catastrophes is the primary responsibility of NDMA. It also provided standards for the minimal requirements for assistance, such as providing housing, food, clothing, and other basics. Additionally, it outlined specific guidelines for widows and orphans. The National Executive Committee supports this power.
- Every state has a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), which is similar to the NDMA in that it is chaired by the state’s chief minister. The SDMA receives help from a State Executive Committee (SEC) while creating the state disaster management plan. According to the Act, the CM would be able to use all or some of the State Authority’s powers in an emergency, although doing so would require ex post facto approval by the State Authority.
- The District Disaster Management Authority is headed by the District Collector, District Magistrate, or Deputy Commissioner of the district. (DDMA). Additionally, the DDMA Co-Chairperson will serve as the Zila Parishad’s Chairperson in the district where it is present. Planning, coordinating, and putting disaster management into action, as well as performing the essential steps for disaster management as outlined in the guidelines, are all tasks that fall under the purview of the District Authority. In order to enforce safety standards, give assistance, and handle disaster response at the district level, the District Authority also has the authority to evaluate construction in any part of the district.
- Additionally, a National Event Response Force (NDRF) has been created to respond to a potentially disastrous incident that calls for immediate assistance. A Director-General is chosen by the Central Government to head the company.
- Under the DM Act, the National Institute for Disaster Management was created as a legislative organisation. It is in charge of organising and promoting disaster management-related training, research, documentation, and the creation of a national knowledge base for disaster management, mitigation strategies, and prevention techniques. Its primary duties consist of:
- Development of training material.
- Formulate a comprehensive human resources plan.
- Provide inputs to governments.
- Develop educational materials for disaster management.
- Promote awareness.
Disaster Management Act and COVID-19
The DMA, 2005’s provisions were first put to use on March 25, 2020, when the country went into a state of lockdown. Sections 6 and 10 of the Act, which granted the NDMA authority to develop national disaster management plans and oversee their uniform implementation through the SDMAs, were invoked to impose the lockdown.
The DMA, the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, and several state-specific Public Health Acts have all been expanded upon by some state governments. (for example Tamil Nadu Public Health Act,1939). Kerala passed the “Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020” in addition to the aforementioned statute using its legislative authority under State List Entry 6 (Public Health and Sanitation).
Criticisms and Challenges
Even though the DMA was instrumental in closing a sizable gap in organised disaster management activities, it continues to be criticised.
The lack of a provision for the declaration of “disaster-prone zones” is one of the Act’s most common objections. Such disaster-related legislation has identified disaster-prone zones within their respective jurisdictions in the majority of developing and developed countries. It is simpler for the state to be proactive in terms of readiness and response in event of a disaster when particular zones are designated as disaster-prone.
The Act has also been criticised for ignoring the progressive nature of disasters. It admits that disasters might happen suddenly but leaves out the possibility that some disasters can build up gradually. For instance, the country has been devastated by repeated dengue and tuberculosis epidemics despite the fact that little has been done to successfully address the diseases.
Furthermore, coordination appears to have suffered due to considerable role overlap among the numerous national and subordinate level bodies that the Act established. Local authorities should be given more independence and power in terms of decision-making rather than being told to adopt “necessary measures.” Additionally, dependent on the situation, far more precise directions should be given.
The disaster management plan in India suffers problems due to general deficiencies in terms of responsiveness, implementation, and procedural lag in addition to the aforementioned criticisms. Technology advancements have also made it possible to predict the possibility of disasters and minimise their effects on a global scale.
Furthermore, putting plans into action on the ground may greatly benefit the government rather than relying simply on policies that exist only on paper. NGOs and local civic authorities, which have previously received little attention, may soon be given a far more proactive role.
The rate at which COVID-19 instances are surging is quite concerning. Due to the rapid development of a worldwide disease for which there is presently neither a vaccine nor a treatment, we must be prepared with solutions and strategic planning to handle any risk issues that may surface. In conclusion, we can state that while the entire world is experiencing this catastrophe, we must take precautions in order to stay safe. The government has taken precautionary action and made the necessary preparations so that we can live in safety.
Along with the requirements of the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 and the Disaster Management Act of 2005, the provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act of 1897 have been put into effect. The laws of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 and the Indian Penal Code of 1860 will be used to determine how anyone who disobeys the law, rules, and regulations will be penalised. If we don’t abide by these rules, not only will we endanger our own lives, but also the lives of others. At the same time, we need to dispel all of the myths about the coronavirus and raise awareness among the general public. The importance of prevention cannot be overstated.