Disaster| Disaster Management | Disaster Management in India


Before knowing about disaster management, first we must know about what disaster and its types is.


A disaster is defined as a serious problem that occurs over a short or long period of time and causes widespread human, material, economic, or environmental loss that exceeds the affected community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources.

Disasters are severe disturbances to a community’s functioning that surpass the community’s ability to cope using its own resources. Natural, man-made, and technical risks, as well as various elements that influence a community’s exposure and vulnerability, can all contribute to disasters.

Types of Disaster

Natural Disaster – Natural disasters, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are naturally occurring physical phenomena caused by either rapid or slow onset events that have immediate effects on human health as well as secondary effects that result in additional death and suffering. These disasters can be – 

  • Geophysical (e.g., Earthquakes, Landslides, Tsunamis and Volcanic Activity)
  • Hydrological (e.g., Avalanches and Floods)
  • Climatological (e.g., Extreme Temperatures, Drought and Wildfires)
  • Meteorological (e.g., Cyclones and Storms/Wave Surges)
  • Biological (e.g., Disease Epidemics and Insect/Animal Plagues)

Man-Made Disaster – As defined by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, man-made disasters are occurrences that are caused by humans and occur in or near human populations, frequently as a result of environmental or technological emergencies. These include –

  • Environmental Degradation
  • Pollution
  • Accidents (e.g., Industrial, Technological and Transport usually involving the production, use or transport of hazardous materials) 

Complex Emergencies – Multiple hazards, or a complex combination of both natural and man-made factors, such as a breakdown of authority, looting, and attacks on critical installations, including conflict situations and war, can bring disasters. These include –

  • Food Insecurity
  • Epidemics
  • Armed Conflicts
  • Displaced Populations

According to ICRC these Complex Emergencies are typically characterized by:

  • Extensive Violence
  • Displacements of Populations
  • Loss of Life
  • Widespread Damage to both Societies and Economies
  • Need for Large-scale, Humanitarian Assistance across Multiple Agencies
  • Political and Military Constraints which impact or prevent Humanitarian Assistance
  • Increased Security Risks for Humanitarian Relief Workers

Pandemic Emergencies – A pandemic (from Greek pan “all” and o demos “people”) is an outbreak of infectious illness that has spread across a vast territory and can harm the human or animal population, causing health problems and disrupting services, resulting in economic and social expenses. It can refer to the appearance of a significant number of cases of an infectious disease in a region or population that is normally free of that disease, or it can refer to an unusual or unexpected increase in the number of cases of an infectious disease that already exists in that region or population. Pandemics can arise as a result of natural or man-made calamities. Among these have been the following epidemics:

Causes of Disaster

Each type of disaster has its own causes

  • Earthquakes can occur as a result of the release of energy from stressed rocks deep within the Earth, as well as tectonic movements and volcanic activity. Tremors, often known as earthquakes, are caused by the abrupt release of accumulated energy or pressures within the ground, or the quick movement of huge land masses on the earth’s surface.
  • Tsunamis are thought to be the result of an undersea earthquake, in which the rapid shift of the ocean floor causes high-speed waves. As they get closer to the ground, their speed slows and their height rises. It has the potential to be extremely damaging to coastal locations.
  • In different regions of the world, the same event is known as tropical cyclones, typhoons, or hurricanes. They are weather systems with high winds that circulate anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere around a low pressure point. Tropical cyclones originate over open waters in specific tropical regions where the sea surface temperature is around 26°C.
  • Floods are large accumulations or flows of water caused by severe rainfall, snow melt, or high tides, as well as other sources such as dam bursts, embankment failure, and so on. They include flash floods, which are rapidly rising and falling river and overland flows caused by the rapid runoff of rainfall from upland areas; river floods, which occur when river water spills over adjoining areas; tidal flooding, which occurs when seawater backflows into coastal rivers at high tides; and storm surge floods, which occur when tropical cyclones make landfall.
  • Drought or scarcity of water to meet the typical needs of agriculture, livestock, or the human population is a common occurrence. Drought is commonly linked with semi-arid or desert regions, however it can also occur in locations that receive enough rainfall and moisture levels.
  • Volcanic eruptions occur when molten rock is extruded as lava or ejected as ash via vents in the earth’s crust, occasionally accompanied by steam or hot gases.
  • Landslides can be triggered by severe rainfall, earthquakes, or river undercutting of slope bases. They are abundant in mountainous places, where they commonly destroy infrastructure, agriculture, and structures.

Effects/Impacts of Disaster

The severity, destructive potential, frequency, predictability, and length of disasters varies. In turn, remedial needs vary depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the resulting devastation. The impacts of disaster vary according to the type of disaster.

  • Disasters can be classified as either abrupt or cataclysmic, with instant devastation. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, windstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and avalanches can devastate significant portions of the housing stock, physical and social infrastructure, production facilities, and crops in an instant. Disasters can impair the economy’s productive basis by wreaking havoc on its capital stock. Of course, timely repair and replacement diverts national savings that could otherwise be devoted to infrastructure and productive capital stock.
  • Some calamities may take a long time to manifest and have an impact. These can be classified as ongoing disasters. The scenario may deteriorate further as time goes. Prolonged droughts and crop failure, for example, are examples of ongoing calamities. While the affected area in a cataclysmic disaster is generally modest, it may be very large in an ongoing crisis situation. Droughts, for example, can exacerbate long-standing problems such as deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion over huge swaths of territory for many years. Agriculture may suffer significant setbacks, and large groups of affected people may be forced to move. As a result, it may put strain on metropolitan areas, resulting in increased demands and infrastructure.
  • Warfare, civil strife, population increase, environmental degradation, and significant industrial mishaps are all man-made calamities. The immediate devastation wrought by war and civil turmoil is comparable to that of a natural disaster. During a period of war and civil turmoil, resources are diverted, affecting infrastructure as well as production facilities.
  • Natural disasters impair economic activity. Physical harm caused by cataclysmic calamities momentarily halts development efforts. Continuing calamities necessitate infrastructural modifications. In either situation, repair and response take time and necessitate ‘extra’ resources. These resources may not be readily available if ongoing development initiatives in critical sectors are disrupted.
  • Disasters have a huge impact on the physically weak and socioeconomically disadvantaged sectors of society, such as subsistence farmers, small merchants, casual labourers, and marginal fishers. Disasters may completely deplete their capital stock or reserves, forcing them into poverty. As a result of disasters, migration to urban centres in search of work tends to exacerbate the urban crisis and the necessity for remedial action. They may even prevent or impede the impoverished from leaving the poverty line. The physically weak, such as children, pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly, and the infirm, bear the brunt of disasters’ negative consequences.

In the previous 20 years, 30 lakh individuals have died as a result of unnatural causes; what is the reason of this 30-lakh death? Natural and man-made disasters There is so much harm that these disasters cause to individuals, property, and communities, yet there is something that can be done to safeguard people from disasters. We cannot prevent disasters from occurring, but we can try to minimize the damage and loss they cause. Certain steps and precautions can be taken to minimize the effects of disasters, but this is not an easy task; these steps and measures must be managed to ensure that the loss of lives is minimized during a disaster. This is referred to as disaster management.

Disaster Management

disaster management

Disaster management involves taking all necessary steps to ensure that a hazard does not become a disaster. Although we cannot prevent the occurrence of many natural disasters, we can mitigate their harmful effects through proper management in order to reduce the loss of life and assets.

All activities, programmes, and procedures that can be undertaken before, during, and after a disaster with the goal of avoiding, reducing the impact, or recovering from the disaster’s losses are included in disaster management.

Natural or human-caused disasters are the result of natural or human-caused dangers. In fact, the current threat comes more from man-made disasters than from natural disasters. For instance, urban floods caused by unsustainable urbanisation, drought caused by inadequate water management, rapid infrastructure development, and overpopulation settlement in ecologically vulnerable places such as the Himalaya region result in earthquakes and landslides.

Disaster management broadly encompasses the management before, during and after disaster.

1-Pre-Disaster Management: Pre-disaster management is concerned with rescuing people even before a disaster occurs. The major goal is to reduce the number of people who die. It entails developing an information technology system, assessing disasters, issuing warnings to the public via media, radio, and other means, moving people to a safe location, mobilizing resources for essential action in the event of a disaster, and so on.

2- Management during Disaster: The success of this phase is determined by the level of pre-disaster management. This is based on a method of rapid action and assistance to catastrophe victims in disaster-prone areas, including moving them to safe areas. The people are also given with food, clothing, and health services.

3- Post-Disaster Management: During this phase, the impacted areas are rebuilt and redeveloped. In addition, those who have been harmed are provided work or compensation.

Disaster management in India

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India. Setting up of NDMA and the creation of an enabling environment for institutional mechanisms at the State and District levels is mandated by the Disaster Management Act, 2005. NDMA is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management. India envisions the development of an ethos of Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness and Response.

Disaster Management Act, 2005

On December 26, 2005, the Act was adopted in the country. It went into force in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, which killed thousands of people in the nation. The government passed it to ensure effective disaster management, including the development of mitigation measures, capacity-building, and other associated issues.

 Provisions of the Act

The Act attempts to manage disasters by preparing mitigation methods, increasing capacity, and more. The Act also appoints the Ministry of Home Affairs as the nodal ministry in charge of the country’s comprehensive national disaster management. The Act also includes provisions for financial systems, such as the establishment of funds for disaster response, such as the National Disaster Response Fund.

Governing bodies that were established under the Act include –

  1. The National Disaster Management Authority or NDMA: It is the central nodal body for disaster management coordination, and it is chaired by the Prime Minister. It is in charge of developing disaster management policies, plans, and procedures to provide an effective and powerful response in the event of a disaster.
  2.  Second is the National Executive Committee or NEC which assists NDMA & prepares National Disaster Management Plan for the whole country.
  3. On the state and district level, we have SDMA & NDMA responsible for drawing the disaster plan for states & districts respectively.
  4. Then, there is NDRF or National Disaster Response Force which directly responds to a threatening disasters and calamities. The NDRF has been playing a major role in rescuing people from disasters for years.

Punishment Clause

  • The NDMA and the national government are given enormous power under the DM Act. So much so that the Central Government can issue directions to any authority anywhere in India to assist and contribute in disaster management, regardless of whether or not there is a legislation in place. Failure to comply with such instructions constitutes a violation of the statute.
  • The Act comprises 79 sections and 11 chapters. And Chapter 10 of the Act deals with ‘Offences and Penalties’.
  •   Under Section 51, anyone refusing or failing to follow orders is liable for punishment with imprisonment up to one year, or fine, or both.
  • Article 52 guarantees imprisonment for almost two years and a fine on any person making false claims to gain relief benefits. Article 54 enforces imprisonment of one year or a fine on anyone circulating false alarms about the severity of a disaster.
    • These two articles of the act, i.e. Article 52 and 54 have gained importance in the recent times. This is because, lately, a lot of news and updates about COVID have been flooding social media platforms which fail to check the credibility of the news.

COVID-19 and the ambit of Disaster Management Act

Despite the fact that the Act was enacted 16 years ago, it gained popularity and made news with the start of COVID-19 and Prime Minister Modi’s call for a state-wide lockdown in May 2020. The lockdown was implemented in accordance with the 2005 Disaster Management Act.

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