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National Disaster Management Plan

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On 1st June 2016, the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP). It is the first-ever national plan prepared by the country.

The plan was produced by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). NDMA is an apex body for coordination and governance of nation-wide disaster management activities in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi describes the significance of the plan: ‘The aim of the plan is to make India disaster resilient. It will help to maximize the ability of the country to cope with disasters at all levels by integrating disaster risk reduction into development and by increasing the preparedness to respond to all kinds of disasters. The plan takes into account global trends in disaster management. It incorporates the approach enunciated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, which is an agreement under the auspices of the United Nations to which India is a signatory.’

The four priorities articulated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the five thematic areas of action are:
  1. Understanding risk
  2. Inter-Agency coordination
  3. Investing in DRR – Structural measures
  4. Investing in DRR – Non-structural measures
  5. Capacity development.

Features of the plan:

The NDMP covers all phases of disaster management i.e prevention, mitigation, response and recovery. It provides for horizontal and vertical integration among all the agencies and departments of the Government.

The plan document recognizes eight categories of natural hazards, namely, (i) cyclone and wind (including tropical cyclones and storm surge), (ii) floods, (iii) urban floods, (iv) earthquake, (v) tsunami, (vi) landslides and snow avalanches, (vii) drought, and (viii) cold wave and frost.

The human-induced disasters listed are (i) chemical or industrial disaster, (ii) nuclear or radiological emergency and (iii) fire risk (including forest fire).

NDMP will also contribute to better coordination in mitigating climatic challenges, natural hazards and human-induced disasters. It emphasizes on a greater need for information, education and communication activities in order to cope with any sort of disaster.

It also identifies major activities such as early warning, information dissemination, medical care, fuel, transportation, search and rescue, evacuation, etc. to serve as a checklist for agencies responding to a disaster.

The plan also spells out roles and responsibilities of all levels of Government right up to Panchayat and Urban Local Body level in a matrix format.

What is the magnitude of the challenge?

India is extremely vulnerable to many natural disasters. Reasons being geological hazard sensitivity in various zones, high population, poor socio-economic conditions and unpredictable growth rate.

On the top are environmental degradation and implications of climate change. Due to the unpredictability, a lot of natural disasters take place suddenly and it has become difficult to prevent or deal with them.

Several glitches in the plan have attracted the criticism of the Supreme Court, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The plan lacks a practical roadmap with clear aims, timelines and ideas of how resources shall be mobilized. Focusing on the Himalayan states is a necessity. The ongoing process of the mountains being formed by the movement of Indian sub-continent plate against the Asian plate creates a lot of pressure which releases in the form of earthquakes and seismic vibrations.

As almost over 40 million individuals reside in the Himalayan region, it is at great risk. It is extremely necessary to enhance the resilience plan in certain areas.

Proper execution and implementation of the plan will take place only if all the vulnerabilities of areas, individuals and communities are taken into consideration. Livelihoods of people living in disaster-prone areas need strengthening measures so that they can cope with the force of the disaster.

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