Essay and Answer Writing

Disaster Management in India

“We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness” – In India, about 59% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities, over 40 million hectares is prone to floods, about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 69% of the area is susceptible to drought. These numbers and statistics point to only one thing – India is a highly disaster prone country given its geographical location. It has a long coastline, snow peaks, many mountain ranges and perennial rivers. Moreover, India only covers 2% of the total geographical area but is home to 16% of the world’s population. Naturally, India faces tremendous threat of natural disasters, partially due to a high pressure on the natural resources. In this essay I will outline what disaster management is, the kind of strategies India has adopted and its scope for improvement. 
 
What is a disaster and disaster management?
Disaster is an extreme disturbance in the functioning of a habitat causing widespread human, environmental, and material losses that overreach the ability of the affected population to cope with using its own resources.
 
Disaster management refers to the conservation of lives and property during natural or man-made disasters. Disaster management plans are multi-layered and are planned to address issues such as floods, hurricanes, fires, mass failure of utilities, rapid spread of diseases, and droughts. Geo-climatic conditions and socio-economic vulnerability of India makes it one of the most disaster-prone countries. A World Bank report released in 2017 noted that the impact of extreme natural disasters was equivalent to $520 billion of global loss in annual consumption and forces some 26 million people into poverty each year. 
 
·Disaster management is a well-planned strategy for making efforts to reduce the hazards caused by the disasters. 
·Disaster management does not remove or eliminate the threats. It focuses on formulating plans to decrease the effect of disasters. 
·A well-coordinated disaster management helps the country to know about the potential hazards of the disasters and provides the answer to the many questions like how, when, where the disasters can occur.  
·National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) - has been set to coordinate responses to natural or man-made disasters across the country. It lays down policies on disaster management, takes measures for the prevention of disaster, mitigation and prepares for dealing with threatening disaster situations. It coordinates the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management.
 
Towards a better Disaster Management system: existing problems and solutions
India has suffered from many disasters in its recent history, both natural and climate-related, and these continue to cause devastation. In November 2015, floods in the southern city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, killed over 370 people and damaged crops worth US$190 million. And in May 2016, record temperatures of 51°C hit Phalodi, Rajasthan, during a heat wave that affected much of northern India. As per a report by Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) released in January 2019, in India alone 1388 deaths were reported and 23,900,348 people were affected in 2018.Most recently, the cyclone amphan in eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Orissa wrecked much havoc, causing immense loss of property and life.
 
Some grave problems facing disaster management in India are:
·Bureaucratisation and a lack of structured involvement of community based organisations and NGOs
·Lack of implementation policies of the existing procedures
·Communication gaps and lack of coordination
·Deficient warning systems and inadequate resources
·Low budgetary allotments
·Lack of large scale research and decision making
·Low international cooperation 
 
In the face of these diverse and repeated hazards, Indian authorities, from the national to the state level, have taken a series of actions to improve their management of disasters. Disaster management occupies an important place in India's policy framework, as poor people are most affected by disaster and they are India's predominant population. The approaches have emerged from the conviction that development cannot be sustained unless mitigation is built into the development process. Another cornerstone is that mitigation must be multi-disciplinary, spanning across all sectors of development. Investments in mitigation are much more cost-effective than expenditure on relief and rehabilitation. 
 
·National Disaster Framework - a roadmap covering institutional mechanisms, disaster prevention strategy, early warning systems, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, and human resource development. The expected inputs, areas of intervention and agencies to be involved at the National, State and district levels have been identified and listed in the roadmap. 
·This roadmap has been shared with all the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. Ministries and Departments of the Government of India and the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations have been advised to develop their respective roadmaps taking the national roadmap as a broad guideline. There is, therefore, now a common strategy underpinning the action being taken. 
·The Disaster Management Act - was passed on 28 November 2005, The Act calls for the establishment of a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson. The NDMA is responsible for laying down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management and to ensure very timely and effective response to disaster. 
·The 2009 National Disaster Policy - gives the NDMA the role of setting up a group of experts to identify research needs in disaster risk reduction in India, which overlaps with the National Institute of Disaster Management’s research-related responsibilities. 
 
Scopes and possibilities
Generally a disaster results in significant loss in social, psychological, and economic aspects. It not only leads to structural damages, but also leaves families torn apart, children orphaned, livelihoods destroyed, and communities traumatised. Non-structural factors such as lack of responsiveness of government officials and ineffective leadership are mainly responsible for any disaster mismanagement. Strong and effective emergency management has been a felt need in all corners of the world. Effective policies play a vital role in mitigating the impact of disasters and reducing likely losses of life and property. Economic resources are important for any disaster management. 
 
·In rural areas, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) can display tremendous potential in disaster management as they are closer to the scene and have a better knowledge of local resources/weaknesses. However, their role has been limited mostly to the response phase of any disaster.
·Given that natural disasters do not always follow national boundaries, cross-boundary issues of disaster management should be addressed through enhanced regional-national-international cooperation. The need of the hour is to undertake a vulnerability analysis and on an international level to develop generic capacities. Furthermore, an effective regional response system should be developed to pool capacity for mutual benefit.
·Awareness, sensitivity and preparedness to respond to such situations should be increased among the decision makers, administrators, policy makers, professionals, and common people. ​
·The authorities should have detailed sets of data and information on phenomenon that lead to disasters. Scientifically collated and analysed time series data on climate, geological, hydrological and environmental aspects can enhance our understanding of natural events, their likely impact on life and property and development of effective warning systems. ​
 
Conclusion
The time has come for the policies, plans and initiatives related to disaster risk reduction to start falling into place and finding coherence in India, as the country addresses the important task of implementing robust disaster risk reduction measures to protect its vulnerable citizens and its ambitious economic growth. Good outcomes need organised learning, an inter-governmental governance, economic resources, technological change, leadership, and experience of calamitous events. If the suggested measures are implemented in India as well as in other parts of the world in an integrated and systematic manner, all the nations will be in a better position to prevent the occurrence of any disaster in future, and at least reduce their impact of the disaster when it occurs, for natural disasters are inevitable, even if we have measures to predict/ forecast them, we cannot stop them from happening. 
 
(Sources: Wikipedia.com / ncbi.nlm.nih.gov / urbanupdate.in)



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