Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

Simply Put: What is a ‘national disaster’?

Context

  • Amidst the catastrophic floods in Kerala, several political leaders have urged the government to declare it a ‘national disaster’.

 

What is a National Disaster?

  • According to 10th Finance Commission (1995-2000) a disaster is a national calamity of rarest severity if it affects one-third of the population of a state.
  • Factors to be considered to classify a ‘calamity of rare severity’ are:
    • Intensity and magnitude of the calamity,
    • Level of assistance needed,
    • Capacity of the state to tackle the problem,
    • Alternatives and flexibility available within the plans to provide relief.
  • There is no legal provision to declare a natural calamity as a national calamity.

 

Purpose of declaration

Central Funding: Declaring a disaster “Calamity of rare severity” ensures

  • Support from the Central government.
  • Additional assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund
  • A Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) is set up, with the corpus shared 3:1 between Centre and state.
  • Additional assistance is considered from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF), funded 100% by the Centre.

 

‘Calamities of rare severity’ in the past

  • The following event are declared as “a calamity of unprecedented severity”:
    • The 1999 super cyclone in Odisha, 2001
    • Gujarat earthquake
    • Flash floods in Uttarakhand in 2013
    • Cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh in 2014

 

Background

  • According to UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) India ranks third, after the US and China, hit the most by natural disasters over 20 years spanning 1995-2015.

 

Defining Disaster

UN definition of Disaster

  • Disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.

 

As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

  • Disaster means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area.
  • It occurs due to either natural or man-made causes,
  • It results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment.
  • The nature or magnitude of the destruction is beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

 

Classification of disasters based on causes

According to UNISDR about 90% of major disasters in the world were caused by floods, storms, heat waves, droughts and other weather-related event.

  • Natural Disasters include floods, earthquake, tsunami, drought, cyclone, landslide, avalanche, hurricane, volcano eruption, cold wave, forest fire.
  • Manmade disasters include nuclear disasters, chemical disasters, biological disasters, pandemic emergencies, epidemics, Fire (Building, coal, forest, oil), pollution (Air, water, industrial), Deforestation, Accidents (Road, rail, sea, air), Industrial accidents, Riots, Hijacking, Terrorism.

 

Phases of Disaster management

  1. Before the Crisis: Preparedness
  • Preventing and mitigating the crisis,
  • Preparing for actual occurrence.
  1. During the Crisis: Emergency Response
  • Evacuation
  • Search and rescue
  • Provision of basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medicines etc
  1. Post Crisis
  • Recovery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Reconstruction

 

Disaster management in India

National Disaster Management Act 2005 was enacted to provide an institutional mechanism

  • For drawing up and monitoring the implementation of disaster management plans
  • Ensuring measures for preventing and mitigating effects of disaster and
  • For undertaking a holistic, coordinated and prompt response to a disaster situation

 

India has integrated 3-tier administrative machinery for disaster management at the National, State, District levels.

  • The procedural mechanism and the allocation of resources is outlined in the Contingency Action Plan (CAP).
  • The Central Government supplements the States relief efforts by initiating supportive action.
  • National Crisis Management Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary deals with major crises that have serious or national ramifications.
  • State governments have the responsibility for undertaking rescue and relief measures in the event of a natural calamity through.
  • District Coordination and Review Committee led by the Collector ensures the participation of related agencies, departments and NGOs.

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