For far too long disaster management in India was marginalised as an issue of providing relief and rehabilitation to the people affected by natural calamities. While in the Central Government it occupied a place in the Ministry of Agriculture, in the States it was a concern of the Revenue or Relief Departments, and in the districts it was one of the many crisis management functions of the Collectors.
However, the country now has a national vision ‘to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for Disaster Management. This will be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters. The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations’. This is also in line with Hyogo Framework of Action 2005–15 - Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
The Government of India (GOI), in recognition of the importance of Disaster Management as a national priority, has set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in August 1999 and also a nation committee after the Gujarat earthquake, for making recommendations on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggestion effective mitigation mechanisms. The Tenth Five-Year Plan Document also had, for the first time, a detailed chapter on Disaster Management. Similarly, the Twelfth Finance Commission was also mandated to review the financial arrangements for Disaster Management.
On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.
"To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation."
The National Disaster Management Authority has been constituted under the Disaster Management Act 2005, with the Prime Minister of India as its Chairman-; a Vice Chairman with the status of Cabinet Minister, and eight members with the status of Ministers of State. With well-defined functional domains for each of its members and concern to carry out the mandated functions, NDMA has evolved into a lean and professional organization which is IT-enabled and knowledge based. Skills and expertise of the specialists are extensively used to address disaster related issues. A functional and operational infrastructure has been built, which is appropriate for disaster management involving uncertainties coupled with desired plans of action.
Conceptually the organization is based on a 'disaster divisions-cum-secretariat' system. Each member of the Authority heads disaster-specific divisions for specific disaster and functional domains. Each member has also been given the responsibility of specified states and UTs for close interaction and coordination.
The NDMA Secretariat, headed by a Secretary, is responsible for providing secretarial support and continuity.
The Secretariat deals with mitigation, preparedness, plans, reconstruction, community awareness and financial and administrative aspects.
NDMA also has the National Disaster Management Operations Centre which will be equipped with a state-of-the-art resilient and redundant communication systems, NDMA also carries out the tasks of capacity development, training and knowledge management.
NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:-
The National Policy framework has been prepared after due deliberation and keeping in view the National Vision to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for DM. This will be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response during disasters. The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations’.
In order to translate this vision into policy and plans, the NDMA has adopted a mission-mode approach involving a number of initiatives with the help of various institutions operating at the national, state and local levels. Central ministries, States and other stakeholders have been involved in the participatory and consultative process of evolving policies and guidelines.
This Policy framework is also in conformity with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Rio Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals and the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015. The themes that underpin this policy are:-
From the national vision and the theme mentioned earlier, the objectives guiding the policy formulation have evolved to include: