What is Disaster Management, Meaning, Definition, Act and policy

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Nature knows no limits, when it strikes with all its fury it doesn’t differentiate between rich or poor, rural or urban, women or children, it just wrecks havoc on all under its clutch. A disaster is a serious disruption that strikes the areas inhabitated by man. It involves widespread destruction of human, material, environmental loss etc,

Classification of Disaster

Disaster can be classified as natural and man-made disaster. Few of natural disasters are landslides, hurricanes, wildfire, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, drought hail and tsunamis. Natural disaster may take different forms and range or duration, but it is sure to strike loss of life and infrastructure,

Man-made disasters are the disasters that are caused or induced by human activities These include hazardous material emergencies like chemical spills on groundwater and land, power service blackout, radiological emergencies, reservoir induced earthquake, nuclear leakage, terrorism, civil unrest and many more. Man-made disasters are equally vulnerable as they pose great threat to both, people and property,

Concept of Disaster Management

Disaster management is a very important process which can be defined as proactive measures to mitigate loss of life and property, measures to rescue, relief rehabilitation and recovery. It involves the creation of plans through which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. It does not eliminate the disaster but strikes to minimise its effect. It is very important for the societies and nations to value this concept as the failure to realise or plan may lead to human mortality, loss of revenue and damage to assets.

Disaster Management in India : Act and Policy

Disaster management comes into light as India has suffered great loss of life and property in the past. Indian Government has put a strong foot forward in order to create a standard plan for disaster management by passing and implementing various laws and acts. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides the institutional, legal, financial and coordination mechanism at centre, state, district and panchayat or municipality level.

This act also establishes National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister with tenure of five years. It assists in laying down plans and policies for effective management and implementation of Disaster Management Act. It also has provision for establishing National Disaster Management Force and National Institute of Disaster Management. National Disaster Management Force has played key roles in the recent Chennai floods 2015, Nepal earthquake 2015, Kerala floods 2018 and Gas leakage in Visakhapatnam 2020,

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a policy which highlights the broader modalities for disaster mitigation. Major areas underlined in DRR are mainstreaming DRR into developmental strategy; increasing awareness and preparedness: strengthening early warning system with the assistance of science and technology, strengthening rescue and relief mechanisms; better rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Projects and Schemes

The NDMA has set up a project named National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project in 2003 for developing strategies in coastal and island regions for disaster management. It covers 13 Coastal States and Union Territories. NDMA has also made provisions to set up State Disaster Management Force from 2009-10. It plans to upgrade National Fire Service College in Nagpur to prepare professionals for fire prevention, fire protection, fire fighting, rescue and specialised emergency response.

To meet the immediate requirements during an emergency, NDMA has created National Disaster Response Reserve (NDRR). NDRR maintains an inventory of tents, medicines, blankets, lighting equipments and food. Under Aapda Mitra Scheme, NDMA trains community volunteers to undertake basic relief and rescue measures during floods, flash floods, and urban flooding. NDMA has identified two district each in the States of Uttarakhand, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir (Now a UT). These districts are multi-hazard vulnerable districts. NDMA prepares local people to fight natural and man-made disasters in these districts.

Under agriculture category, various new schemes like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (Crop insurance scheme), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (Irrigation programmes) are running. These serve the purpose of saving the marginalised farmers from disasters like extreme temperatures (heat waves and dipping mercury), torrential rains or cyclone.

International Tie-ups

Apart from these national measures, large number of international organisations are also linking up with Indian Government in the field of disaster risk reduction and response. Recently, the social networking giant Facebook Inc has rolled out disaster maps for India in a bid to help communities recover and rebuild faster in aftermath of natural disasters. India is also party to Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) that was approved by UN member states in 2015 at Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan. Four specific priorities of this framework are

(i) Understanding disaster, (ii) Strengthening disaster risk governance (iii) Investing in disaster risk reduction, (iv) Enhancing disaster preparedness.

Challenges of Disaster Management in India

having Disaster Management Act, India faces several challenges. In this section we will examine the disaster management challenges in India and assess the implications of those challenges for that country’s economic, political and environments.

• In recent years, Indian’s public policy on disaster management has shifted from a focus on rehabilitation efforts to holistic management of disasters. This new policy approach incorporates pre-disaster issues of prevention, mitigation and preparedness as well as past disaster issues of response, recovery and reconstruction.

• Unsafe building practices in rapidly growing urban settlements constitute India’s greatest challenges for disaster management. A major earthquake in any of India’s densely and heavily populated cities in seismic zones would be catastrophic in terms of fatalities.

•Climate change has far-reaching implications for managing disaster risk in India, as the frequency and intensity of flash floods, landslides, droughts, cyclones and storm surges are expected to increase in upcoming decade.

• While significant achievements have been made in past disaster response and reconstruction, there are still formidable challenges to reduce the risk of future disasters.

• Disaster management policies must incorporate programmes to protect the most vulnerable segments of society-the poor, the marginalised, women, children etc.

• Mechanism must be designed and adopted for transferring lessons learned for pre and post-disaster management between communities.

• Given that natural disasters do not always follow the national boundaries, cross-border issues of disaster management should be addressed through enhanced regional cooperation.

•Funding for disaster management is another area of bottleneck despite that we have two institutional funds namely, National Disaster Management Fund and State Disaster Management Fund.

• According to World Bank Report India loses 2% of its GDP due to disaster every year. Moreover, in India the disaster assessment is done only on face value.

• Disaster is a state subject and therefore it is taken as the responsibility of the state to provide assistance and support in every form.


In recent years, there has been shift in emphasis, from response and recovery to strategic risk management and reduction, and from a government-centered approach to decentralised community participation. But we still need well equipped and latest technology, sufficient funding, community participation and coordinated effort at all levels to avoid or reconstruct the loss and damage incurred. Afterall, disaster both natural and man-made is not good for the economy as well as the society.

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