Disaster Management

Disaster Management

What is a Disaster

A disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins.

Definition for Indian official purposes:

Disaster is an event or series of events, which gives rise to casualties and damage or loss of properties, infrastructures, environment, essential services or means of livelihood on such a scale which is beyond the normal capacity of the affected community to cope with. Disaster is also sometimes described as a “catastrophic situation in which the normal pattern of life or eco-system has been disrupted and extra-ordinary emergency interventions are required to save and preserve lives and or the environment”.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005 defines disaster as “a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area”


India is vulnerable to extreme weather events. Over the decade of the 1990s, both the number and severity of such events have increased. Weather events can be classified as extreme on the basis of various factors such as the impact, the socio-economic losses, environmental degradation and long term damages etc.

With more than 70 percent of India’s population relying on agriculture directly or indirectly, the impact of extreme weather on human life and other living beings. is critical. In the state of Orissa, 49 years have experienced floods, 30 have had droughts, and 11 faced cyclones. These analyses have yielded a 30-year cyclicity of the Indian monsoons. Droughts were more common in the 1960s.

Of the 14 major drought years in the 85-year record, eight occurred in the first 30 year period (1891-1920) whereas there was only one in the second 30 year period (1921- 1950). In the 25-year period from 1951 –1981, five major drought years were recorded. In 1972 and 1979 deficient rainfall (about 25% below normal) was recorded in one half to two thirds of India’s plains. In 1994, monsoon rainfall was deficient (between 20% and 43%) in 10 of the 31 meteorological subdivisions of India. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), data of major natural disasters/ extremes that occurred around the world during the period 1963-2002, indicates that floods and droughts cause the maximum damage.

Floods and droughts occurring in India are closely associated with the nature and extent of the summer monsoon. The inter-annual fluctuations in the summer monsoon rainfall over India are sufficiently large to cause devastating floods or serious droughts. Floods and droughts affect vast areas of the country, transcending state boundaries. One-sixth area of the country is drought-prone. Out of 40 million hectares of the flood prone area in the country, on an average, floods affect an area of around 7.5 million hectares per year.

Primary Climatic Events

  • Cold wave, fog, snow storms and avalanches
  • Hailstorm, thunderstorm and dust storms • Extreme temperature
  • Tropical cyclone and tidal wave
  • Floods, heavy rain
  • Droughts (hydrological, meteorological and agricultural etc.)

Secondary Events ( May be climate-driven)

  • Incidence of epidemics or diseases
  • Urban and rural water shortage
  • Crop plantation failure or harvest failure
  • Malnutrition or under nutrition and hunger
  • Landslides, saline water intrusion and mudflows

Key disasters in India


The primary cause of any drought is deficiency of rainfall and in particular, the timing, distribution and intensity of this deficiency in relation to existing reserves. A prolonged period of relatively dry weather leading to drought is a widely recognized climate anomaly. Drought can be devastating as water supplies dry up, crops fail to grow, animals die, and malnutrition and ill health become widespread The environmental effects of drought, including stalinization of soil and groundwater decline, increased pollution of freshwater ecosystems and regional extinction of animal species.


Flood destructions have always brought miseries to numerous people, especially in rural areas. Flood results in the outbreak of serious epidemics, specially malaria and cholera. Simultaneously, scarcity of water also arises. It has a drastic effect on agricultural produce. Sometimes, water remains standing over large areas for long span of time hampering the Rabi crops.

India is one of the most flood prone countries in the world. The principal reasons for flood lie in the very nature of natural ecological systems in this country, namely, the monsoon, the highly silted river systems and the steep and highly erodible mountains, particularly those of the Himalayan ranges. The average rainfall in India is 1150 mm with significant variation across the country. The annual rainfall along the western coast and Western Ghats, Khasi hills and over most of the Brahmaputra valley amounts to more than 2500 mm. Most of the floods occur during the monsoon period and are usually associated with tropical storms or depressions, active monsoon conditions and break monsoon situations.

Twenty-three of the 35 states and union territories in the country are subject to floods and 40 million hectares of land, roughly one-eighth of the country’s geographical area, is prone to floods. The National Flood Control Program was launched in the country in 1954. Since then sizeable progress has been made in the flood protection measures. By 1976, nearly one third of the flood prone area had been afforded reasonable protection; considerable experience has been gained in planning, implementation and performance of flood warning, protection and control measures

Tropical Cyclones

The major natural disaster that affects the coastal regions of India is cyclone and as India has a coastline of about 7516 kms, it is exposed to nearly 10 percent of the world’s tropical cyclones. About 71 percent of this area is in ten states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal). The islands of Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep are also prone to cyclones. On an average, about five or six tropical cyclones form in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea and hit the coast every year. Out of these, two or three are severe.

When a cyclone approaches to coast, a risk of serious loss or damage arises from severe winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and river floods. The effect of a storm surge is most pronounced in wide and shallow bays exposed to cyclones such as in the northern part of Bay of Bengal. On an average, five or six tropical cyclones occur every year, of which two or three could be severe.

Most cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal followed by those in the Arabian Sea and the ratio is approximately 4:1. The incidence of cyclonic storms, with wind speeds between 65 Km/h and 117 Km/h and severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds between 119 Km/h and 164 Km/h, reaching Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is high during the north east monsoon season ie. October – December, where as the highest annual number of storms, severe storms occur in the Orissa – West Bengal coast.

Heat Wave

Extreme positive departures from the normal maximum temperature result in a heat wave during the summer season. The rising maximum temperature during the pre-monsoon months often continues till June, in rare cases till July, over the northwestern parts of the country.

In recent years, heat wave induced casualties have somewhat increased. Abnormally high temperatures were observed during April 2002 across the country. On 10th May 2002, the maximum temperature at Gannavaram (Vijayawada) 49°C (WMO 2003) was recorded. Decrease in the Diurnal Temperature Range (DTR) due to urbanisation is a new factor leading to human mortality and discomfort. Increased minimum temperatures in summer do not allow the necessary nocturnal cooling to neutralize the high maximum temperature during a heat wave epoch.

Cold Wave

Occurrences of extreme low temperature in association with incursion of dry cold winds from north into the sub continent are known as cold waves. The northern parts of India, specially the hilly regions and the adjoining plains, are influenced by transient disturbances in the mid latitude westerlies which often have weak frontal characteristics. These are known as western disturbances. The cold waves mainly affect the areas to the north of 20°N but in association with large amplitude troughs, cold wave conditions are sometimes reported from states like Maharashtra and Karnataka as well

In recent years due to deterioration of the air quality in urban locations of India the deaths and discomfort from cold waves have been substantial. UP and Bihar rank the highest in terms of casualties from cold wave and this could be due to poor level of development and lack of shelters to the outdoor workers and farmers.

Thunderstorm, Hailstorm and Dust Storm

As winter season transforms into spring, the temperature rises initially in the southern parts of India, giving rise to thunderstorms and squally weather which are hazardous in nature. While the southernmost part of the country is free from dust storms and hailstorms, such hazardous weather affects the central, northeastern, north and northwestern parts of the country. The hailstorm frequencies are highest in the Assam valley, followed by hills of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Vidarbha Maharashtra. However, thunderstorms also occur in Kolkata, Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Tornadoes are rare in India but some of them are quite devastating.


Globally, earthquakes result in a loss of about 50,000 lives every year. Earthquakes over 5.5 magnitude on the Richter scale are progressively damaging to property and human life. However, there are many other factors that influences the damage pattern. Massive earthquakes generally occur near the junction of two tectonic plates, e.g., along the Himalayan range, where the Indian plate goes below Eurasian plate. The Indian sub- continent situated on the boundaries of two continental plates is very prone to earthquakes. Some of the most intense earthquakes of the world have occurred in India. Fortunately, none of these have occurred in any of the major cities.

According to latest seismic zoning map brought out by the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), over 65 percent of the country is prone to earthquake of intensity Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MSK) VII or more.

India has been divided into four seismic zones according to the maximum intensity of earthquake expected. Of these, zone V is the most active which comprises of whole of Northeast India, the northern portion of Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Gujarat and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. India has highly populous cities and the constructions in these cities are not earthquake resistant. Regulatory mechanisms are weak, thus any earthquake striking in one of these cities would turn into a major disaster.


Landslides mainly affect the Himalayan region and the western ghats of India. Landslides are also common in the Nilgiri range. It is estimated that 30 percent of the world’s landslides occur in the Himalayas. The Himalayan mountains, which constitute the youngest and most dominating mountain system in the world, are not a single long landmass but comprises a series of seven curvilinear parallel folds running along a grand arc for a total of 3400 kilometers.

Due to its unique nature, the Himalayas have a history of landslides that has no comparison with any other mountain range in the world. Landslides are also common in western ghat. In the Nilgiris, in 1978 alone, unprecedented rains in the region triggered about one hundred landslides which caused severe damage to communication lines, tea gardens and other cultivated crops.

A valley in Nilgiris is called “Avalanches Valley”. Scientific observation in north Sikkim and Garhwal regions in the Himalayas clearly reveal that there is an average of two landslides per sq. km. The mean rate of land loss is to the tune of 120 meter per km per year and annual soil loss is about 2500 tones per sq km.

Landslides constitute a major natural hazard in our country, which accounts for considerable loss of life and damage to communication routes, human settlements, agricultural fields and forest lands. Based on the general experience with landslides, a rough estimate of monetary loss is of the order of ` 100 crore to ` 150 crore per annum at the current prices for the country as a whole.

Industrial and Chemical Disasters

Industrial disasters include events that occur due to mishaps or failures in industry or related activities and also the disasters that affect the industrial functions, property and productivity. ‘Chemical Disasters’ and ‘Industrial Disasters’ are terms often used interchangeably but are actually a sub-category of the other. A chemical disaster may occur due to both, natural or human-made sources, however, in view of growing chemical usage and industrial development worldwide, the pre-disaster prevention and mitigation of chemical (industrial) disasters is a serious concern.

It is estimated that there are currently over 1949 Major Accident Hazards units in India besides other small and medium–sized industries, in huge numbers, all across the nation. New industries are also coming up at a rapid rate.

Industrial disaster: Industrial disasters are disasters caused by chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical or other process failures due to accident, negligence or incompetence, in an industrial plant which may spill over to the areas outside the plant or with in causing damage to life, property and environment.

Chemical disaster: Chemical disasters are occurrence of emission, fire or explosion involving one or more hazardous chemicals in the course of industrial activity (handling), storage or transportation or due to natural events leading to serious effects inside or outside the installation likely to cause loss of life and property including adverse effects on the environment. “Chemical accident or emergency can result in extensive damage to the environment with considerable human and economic costs. Chemical and industrial emergencies may arise in a number of ways.


Tsunamis and earthquakes happen after centuries of energy build up within the earth. A tsunami (in Japanese ‘tsu’ means harbor and ‘nami’ means wave) is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, usually an ocean. Seismicity generated tsunamis are result of abrupt deformation of sea floor resulting vertical displacement of the overlying water. Earthquakes occurring beneath the sea level, the water above the reformed area is displaced from its equilibrium position. The release of energy produces tsunami waves which have small amplitude but a very long wavelength (often hundreds of kilometer long). It may be caused by non-seismic event also such as a landslide or impact of a meteor.


The term stampede is applied to a sudden rush of a crowd of people, usually resulting in many injuries and death from suffocation and trampling. In stampede, the term mob or crowd is used to refer to a congregated, active, polarized aggregate of people, which is basically heterogeneous and complex.  Its most salient features include homogeneity of thought and action among its participants and their impulsive and irrational actions.

Causes: Incidents of stampedes can occur in numerous socio-cultural situations. These stampede incidents can be categorized into the following types, where the causes and the impact are described in the incident.  Though the list is not exhaustive, it provides a fair idea about various types of situations where stampedes can occur.

Nuclear Emergencies

Nuclear emergency /Disaster is caused due to an extraordinary release of radioactive material or radiation either in the operation of nuclear reactors or other nuclear events like explosion of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) or Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) or explosion of a nuclear weapon. It is accompanied with sudden release of harmful radiations or radioactive materials or both together in to the environment.

(i) Nuclear emergency may be encountered in the following situations: Intentional use of nuclear weapons in the event of war: Nuclear attacks may make use of nuclear weapons, which are extremely destructive and powerful enough to destroy an entire city. With the advancement of scientific research in the world, several countries have acquired the technology to produce nuclear weapons, which are more destructive and harmful than the atom bomb used more than half a century ago against Japan during the Second World War.

(ii) Accidents in nuclear power project: The nuclear Power Plants take care of safety by Engineered safety features by design and redundancy in safety systems to prevent any mal-operations and to bring the system to a safe shut down in case of any abnormalities. However, in case of a major malfunction, there is a remote possibility of release of radioactivity/ radiation to the environment. The area affected would depend on the amount of the release, and wind direction, speed and weather conditions.

(iii) Accidents in handling radiation sources: Other accidental exposure of radiation could be due to accident with the radioactive material during transportation, wrong/faulty practices, failure of machinery of a radiation facility.

Road Accidents

The rapid expansion of road transport has brought with it the challenge of addressing adverse factors such as the increase in road accidents. Road accidents are a human tragedy. It involves high human suffering and monetary costs in terms of premature deaths, injuries, loss of productivity etc. Most deaths and injuries due to road accidents are invisible to society. They are a hidden epidemic. In India, motor vehicles including two wheelers are growing at a faster rate then the economic and population growth.

Global Status Report on Road Safety (WHO, 2009) has estimated that 1.2 million people die on the world’s road every year, and as many as 50 million others are injured. Over 90% of deaths occurred in low income and middle income countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles.

The problem of road safety is acute in India. In the year 2008 alone, number of road accidents were 4.8 lakh resulting in close to 1.2 lakh deaths and 5.2 lakh injured, many of whom are disabled for rest of their lives. Sadly, many of these victims are economically active young people.

Disaster Response Mechanism in India

A permanent and institutionalised setup began in the decade of 1990s with set up of a disaster management cell under the Ministry of Agriculture, following the declaration of the decade of 1990 as the ‘International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction’ (IDNDR) by the UN General Assembly. Following series of disasters such as Latur Earthquake (1993), Malpa Landslide (1994), Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Bhuj Earthquake (2001), a high powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. J.C. Pant, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture was constituted for drawing up a systematic, comprehensive and holistic approach towards disasters. There was a shift in policy from an approach of relief through financial aid to a holistic one for addressing disaster management.

Consequently, the disaster management division was shifted under the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2002 and a hierarchical structure for disaster management evolved in India.

Organisation and Structure of Disaster Management

The Disaster Management Division is headed by Joint Secretary (DM) in MHA, who is assisted by three Directors, Under Secretaries, Section Officers, Technical Officer, Senior Economic Investigator consultants and other supporting staff. The upper echelon of the structure consists of Secretary (Border Management), Home Secretary, Minister of State in charge and the Home Minister.

Disaster Management Framework

Shifting from relief and response mode, disaster management in India started to address the issues of early warning systems, forecasting and monitoring setup for various weather related hazards. A structure for flow of information, in the form of warnings, alerts and updates about the oncoming hazard, also emerged within this framework. A multi-stakeholder High powered group was setup by involving representatives from different ministries and departments. Some of these ministries were also designated as the nodal authorities for specific disasters.

Present Structure for Disaster Management in India

The institutional structure for disaster management in India is in a state of transition. The new setup, following the implementation of the Act, is evolving; while the previous structure also continues (Figure 2.1). Thus, the two structures co-exist at present.

The National Disaster Management Authority has been established at the centre, and the SDMA at state and district authorities at district level are gradually being formalized. In addition to this, the National Crisis Management Committee, part of the earlier setup, also functions at the Centre. The nodal ministries, as identified for different disaster types of function under the overall guidance of the Ministry of Home Affairs (nodal ministry for disaster management). This makes the stakeholders interact at different levels within the disaster management framework.

Within this transitional and evolving setup, two distinct features of the institutional structure for disaster management may be noticed. Firstly, the structure is hierarchical and functions at four levels – centre, state, district and local. In both the setups – one that existed prior to the implementation of the Act, and other that is being formalized post-implementation of the Act, there have existed institutionalized structures at the centre, state, district and local levels. Each preceding level guides the activities and decision making at the next level in hierarchy.

Secondly, it is a multi-stakeholder setup, i.e., the structure draws involvement of various relevant ministries, government departments and administrative bodies.

Disaster Management Act, 2005

This Act provides for the effective management of disaster and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It provides institutional mechanisms for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of the disaster management. The Act also ensures measures by the various wings of the Government for prevention and mitigation of disasters and prompt response to any disaster situation. The Act provides for setting up of a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) under the Chairmanship of the Chief Ministers, District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) under the Chairmanship of Collectors/District Magistrates/Deputy Commissioners.

 The Act further provides for the constitution of different Executive Committee at national and state levels. Under its aegis, the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) for capacity building and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for response purpose have been set up. It also mandates the concerned Ministries and Departments to draw up their own plans in accordance with the National Plan. The Act further contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as creation of funds for response, National Disaster Mitigation Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels for the purpose of disaster management.

The Act also provides specific roles to local bodies in disaster management. Further the enactment of 73rd and 74th Amendments to the constitution and emergence of local self- government, both rural and urban, as important tiers of governance, the role of local authorities becomes very important. The DM Act, 2005 also envisages specific roles to be played by the local bodies in disaster management.

National Level Institutions

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

Following enactment of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the NDMA was formally constituted in accordance with Section-3(1) of the Act on 27th September, 2006 with Prime Minister as its Chairperson and nine other members, and one such member to be designated as Vice-Chairperson.

Mandate of NDMA:

The NDMA has been mandated with laying down policies on disaster management and guidelines which would be followed by different Ministries, Departments of the Government of India and State Government in taking measures for disaster risk reduction. It has also to laid down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plans and to take such measures for the management of disasters.

Details of these responsibilities are given as under :-

(a) Lay down policies on disaster management; Disaster Management in India

(b) Approve the National Plan;

(c) Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;

(d) Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;

(e) Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;

(f) Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plan for disaster management;

(g) Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation;

(h) Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government; (i) Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with the threatening disaster situation or disaster as it may consider necessary;

(j) Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Composition of NDMA:

Besides the nine members nominated by the Prime Minister, Chairperson of the Authority, the Organisational structure consists of a Secretary and five Joint Secretaries including one Financial Advisor. There are 10 posts of Joint Advisors and Directors.

State level Institutions

State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA)

The DM Act, 2005 provides for constitution of SDMAs and DDMAs in all the states and UTs. The Act envisages establishment of State Executive Committee under Section 20 of the Act, to be headed by Chief Secretary of the state Government with four other Secretaries of such departments as the state Government may think fit. It has the responsibility for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the National Policy, the National Plan and the State Plan as provided under section 22 of the Act.

District level Institutions

District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA)

Section 25 of the DM Act provides for constitution of DDMA for every district of a state. The District Magistrate/ District Collector/Deputy Commissioner heads the Authority as Chairperson besides an elected representative of the local authority as Co-Chairperson except in the tribal areas where the Chief Executive Member of the District Council of Autonomous District is Disaster Management in India

Further in district, where Zila Parishad exist, its Chairperson shall be the Co-Chairperson of DDMA. Other members of this authority include the CEO of the District Authority, Superintendant of Police, Chief Medical Officer of the District and other two district level officers are designated by the state Government.

The District Authority is responsible for planning, coordination and implementation of disaster management and to take such measures for disaster management as provided in the guidelines. The District Authority also has the power to examine the construction in any area in the district to enforce the safety standards and also to arrange for relief measures and respond to the disaster at the district level.

Institutional Framework for Metropolitan Cities

In the larger cities (say, with population exceeding 2.5 million), the recommendation of the second Administrative Reforms Commission has suggested that the Mayor, assisted by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation and the Police Commissioner to be directly responsible for Crisis Management. It has now been accepted by the Government.

Hierarchical Structure of Authority and Committee

In this structure, National Disaster Management Authority is the authority for formulation of policy and guidelines for all disaster management work in the country. The state authorities further lay down the guidelines for departments of the state and the districts falling in their respective jurisdictions. Similarly, district authorities direct the civil administration, departments and local authorities such as the municipalities, police department and civil administration. The State Executive Committees are responsible for execution of the tasks envisaged by the authorities

National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)


In the backdrop of the International decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), a National Centre for Disaster Management was established at the Indian Institute for Public Administration (IIPA) in 1995. The Centre was upgraded and designated as the National Institute of Disaster management (NIDM) on 16th October 2003. It has now achieved the status of a statutory organisation under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Section 42 of Chapter VII of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 entrusts the institute with numerous responsibilities, namely to develop training modules, undertake research and documentation in disaster management, organise training programmes, undertake and organise study courses, conferences, lectures and seminars to promote and institutionalize disaster management, undertake and provide for publication of journals, research papers and books.

Management Structure:

The Union Home Minister is the President of the Institute, It was constituted on 23rd February, 2007 and has a general body of forty two members comprising of secretaries of various ministries,departments of the Union Government and heads of national level scientific, research and technical organizations. In terms of Section 42(4) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 vide order dated 3rd May, 2007, the Government also constituted a 14 member Governing Body which may be seen in Figure 2.4 of the Institute.

The Institute has four academic divisions

  • Geo-Hazard Division
  • Hydro-met Hazard Division
  • Policy Planning and Cross Cutting Issues Division
  • Response Division

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

Constitution and role of NDRF:

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been constituted under Section 44 of the DM Act, 2005 by up-gradation/conversion of eight Library and Publication The Institute President: Union Home Minister Vice-President Vice Chairperson NDMA Member Secretary : ED.

State Disaster Response Force (SDRF)

The states/UTs have also been advised to set up their own Specialist Response Force for responding to disasters on the lines of National Disaster Response Force. The Central Government is providing assistance for training of trainers.

The state governments have been also advised to utilise 10 percent of their State Disaster Response Fund and Capacity Building Grant for the procurement of search and rescue equipment and for training purposes of the Response Force. 2.18 Civil Defence 2.18.1 Aims and Objectives of Civil Defence Act: The Civil Defence Policy of the GoI until 1962 was confined to making the states and UTs conscious of the need of civil protection measures and to keep in readiness civil protection plans for major cities and towns under the Emergency Relief Organisation (ERO) scheme. The legislation on Civil Defence (CD) known as Civil Defence Act was enacted in 1968 which is in force throughout the country.

The Act defines CD and provides for the powers of Central Government to make rules for CD, spelling out various actions to be taken for CD measures. It further stipulates for constitution of CD corps, appointment of members and officers, functions of members etc. The Act has since been amended in 2010 to cater to the needs of disaster management 65 Institutional Framework so as to utilise the services of Civil Defence volunteers effectively for enhancement of public participation in disaster management related activities in the country.

The CD Organisation is raised only in such areas and zones which are considered vulnerable to enemy attacks. The revision and renewal of categorised CD towns is done at regular intervals, with the level of perceived threat or external aggression or hostile attacks by anti- national elements or terrorists to vital installations. 2.18.4 Compendium of instructions – CD deals very briefly with all different aspects of CD in India and includes references to important policy letters including legal aspects.

The concept of CD over the years has shifted from management of damage against conventional weapons to also include threat perceptions against nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare and environmental disasters. 2.18.6 Three tier structure as given below has been created to formulate CD policy and for coordinating and supervising measures to implement it

National Civil Defence College (NCDC), Nagpur

The first Disaster Management Training Institution of the country was founded on 29th April 1957 at Nagpur as the Central Emergency Relief Training Institute (CERTI) to support the Emergency Relief Organisation of the Government of India. This Institute organised advanced and specialist training for revenue officials responsible for Disaster Relief Operations against any natural or manmade disaster. CERTI was renamed as National Civil Defence College on 1st April 1968.

NCDC is mandated for conducting training courses for various groups of stakeholders.

National Fire Service College (NFSC), Nagpur

The National Fire Service College was established in 1956 as a sub- ordinate establishment of Ministry of Home Affairs with the aim of providing training to the Fire Officers of the country in advanced techniques of fire fighting and rescue, and creating uniformity in the Fire Service organisations and their management across the country.

NFSC began its activities with only one course; later, considering the needs of the country, industrialisation and growth of Indian industry, had added many more courses to its curriculum to give the fire training a professional outlook.

The college has so far trained 15197 fire officers in the country. Being a residential college, National Fire Service College (NFSC), has its own hostel facilities with well furnished accommodation for about 200 trainees at a time.

The college awards certificates, diplomas, and advanced diplomas on successful completion of courses. These are recognized by the state, central government, the public and private sectors and the business community as well. In addition, the diploma and advanced diploma of NFSC are also recognised by the Union Public Service Commission for appointment in the middle management cadre.

Home Guard

The role of Home Guards is to serve as an auxiliary to the police in the maintenance of law and order, internal security and help the community in any kind of emergency such as air-raid, fire, cyclone, earthquake, epidemic etc. They are also expected to help the police in maintenance of communal harmony, assist the administration in protecting weaker sections, participate in socio-economic and welfare activities and perform Civil Defence duties.


The National Authority, under the Disaster Management Act, has been mandated with the responsibility for laying down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. It is further required to approve the plans prepared by the ministries or departments of the Government of India in accordance with the national plans. The guidelines laid down by the National Authority have to be followed by State Authorities in drawing up their State Plans and the same is applicable to different ministries and departments of the Government of India for the purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects. The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) has to follow the broad policies and guidelines set by the NDMA.

The National Executive Committee, under the Act has to prepare the National Plan, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Policy. Similarly, the State Authority of each state has been given the responsibility for laying down policies and plans for disaster management for their state, under the Act.

National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM)

The National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM) has been approved by the central government on October 22, 2009 and circulated to all concerned. The policy envisages a safe and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster oriented and technology driven strategy through a culture of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response. The policy covers all aspects of disaster management including institutional and legal arrangements, financial arrangements, disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, techno-legal regime, response, relief and rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery, capacity development, knowledge management, research and development. It focuses on the areas where action is needed and the institutional mechanism through which such action can be channelised.

The NPDM addresses the concerns of all the sections of the society including differently abled persons, women, children and other disadvantaged groups in terms of granting relief and formulating measures for rehabilitation of the persons affected by disasters. The issue of equity and inclusiveness has been accorded due consideration. It aims to bring in transparency and accountability in all aspects of disaster management through involvement of community, community based organisations, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), local bodies and civil society.

National Plan on Disaster Management

An institutional mechanism for preparation of the National Plan has been put in place, which is under preparation in three parts namely:-

(i) National Response Plan,

(ii) National Mitigation Plan and

(iii) National Capacity Building Plan.

A Facilitation Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Border Management) in the Ministry of Home Affairs and three sub-committees namely:

(i) National Response Plan Committee

(ii) National Mitigation Plan Committee and

(iii) National Capacity Building Disaster Management in India

Plan Committee have been constituted for preparation of the National Plan on Disaster Management. The National Mitigation Plans are under preparation by the concerned nodal ministries for disasters in respect of which the Nodal Ministries have been identified and designated.

The Nodal Officers of the ministries concerned with the disasters are the conveners of the National Mitigation Plan Committees and are required to complete the Mitigation Plan in consultation with the members concerned with the respective disasters in NDMA.

Focus and Objectives of Guidelines

NDMA is engaged in the formulation of guidelines through a consultative process involving multiple stakeholders, including the government, non-government organisations, academic and scientific institutions, the corporate sector and community. Since its inception, NDMA has so far released various disaster specific and thematic guidelines.

Salient features of the guidelines issued are as follows:-

Management of Landslide and Snow Avalanches: The objectives of these guidelines are to institutionalise the landslide hazard mitigation efforts, to make the society aware of the various aspects of landslide hazard in the country and to prepare the society to take suitable action to reduce both risks and costs associated with this hazard. The guidelines include regulatory and non-regulatory frameworks with defined time schedules for all activities.

Management of Cyclones: The guidelines aim to deal with the tropical cyclones by way of appropriate coping strategies and risk reduction plans along with greater public awareness. The guidelines call for proactive, participatory, fail safe, multi-disciplinary and multi-sector approach at various levels. An approach encompassing Early Warning System on cyclones, structural measures for preparedness and mitigation, covering cyclone shelters, buildings, road links, drains, embankments, communication/power transmission networks, and non-structural mitigation options, such as coastal zone management, coastal flood plain management, natural resources management, awareness generation related to CDM, hazard zoning and mapping, including the use of GIS tools, capacity development, etc; and its implementation strategies are suggested.

Management of Earthquake: The guidelines emphasise that all new structures are built in compliance with earthquake resistant building codes. Town planning, bye-laws, structural safety audits of existing lifeline structures and other critical structures in earthquake prone areas, carrying out selective seismic strengthening and retrofitting ought to be addressed.

Management of Floods: The guidelines aim at measures for preparedness, prevention, mitigation in the pre-flood stage and on prompt and effective response, relief and recovery during Disaster Management in India 74 – and post flood stages. Importance on non-structural measures besides structural measures is emphasized in the guidelines. Setting of basin-wise organisations for flood management and also for setting up a National Flood Management Institute for training, education and research are suggested in the guideline.

Chemical Disasters (Industrial): These guidelines call for a protective, participatory, well-structured, fail-safe, multi-disciplinary and multi-structural approach at various levels. On the basis of vulnerabilities and consequences of chemical accidents, the guidelines review the existing regulatory framework and practices and thus propose for a regulatory framework, code of practices, capacity development, institutional framework, etc. They further set out an approach for implementation of the guidelines.

Management of Chemical (Terrorism) Disasters: The guidelines focus on outlining the preparedness and efforts made for mitigating the chemical terrorism, the act of violence perpetrated to achieve professed aims, using chemical agents. While reviewing the existing legislations and regulatory framework, the guidelines identify the gaps and propose the measures required to fill the gaps in the legislative and regulatory frameworks. They also deal with the aspects of surveillance measures for strengthening the intelligence in order to prevent intentional use of chemical agents.

Preparation of State Disaster Management Plans:

The aim of the state DM plan is to ensure that the components of DM are addressed to facilitate planning, preparedness, operational, coordination and community participation. The guideline suggests outlays for preparation of the plan to include the state profile, vulnerability assessment and risk analysis, prevention measures, mainstreaming DM concerns into developmental plan and programme projects, preparedness measures, response and partnership with the other stakeholders besides providing for financial arrangement.

Psycho-Social Support and Mental Health Services in Disasters: Disasters leave a trail of agony and affect the survivors’ mental health. The guidelines on this subject outlay the entire gamut of psycho-social support and mental health services with a view to build the nation resilient to respond effectively in all types of disasters. The intent of these guidelines is to develop and integrate a holistic, coordinated and pro-active strategy for management of psycho-social support and mental health services after a disaster through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and effective response.

Medical Preparedness and Mass Casualty Management: A Mass Casualty Event (MCE) is an incident resulting in a number of victims large enough to disrupt the normal course of emergency and health care services. The guidelines for MCE focus on all aspects of medical preparedness and mass casualty management with emphasis on prevention, mitigation preparedness, relief and medical response etc. They aim to

Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies: The overall objective of the guidelines is to implement the concept of prevention of nuclear and radiological emergencies. . In rare cases of their occurrence due to factors beyond human control, the guidelines suggest the emergency should be managed through certain pre-planned and established structural and non-structural measures to minimise risks to health, life and the environment.

Management of Biological Disaster:

The guidelines for management of biological disasters focus on all aspects of Biological Disaster Management (BDM) including Bio-terrorism (BT). It emphasises a preventive approach such as immunisation of first responders and stockpiles of medical countermeasures based upon risk reduction measures by developing a rigorous medical management framework to reduce the number of deaths during biological disasters, both intentional and accidental. These include the development of specialised measures pertaining to the management of biological disasters.

Management of Tsunami :

The guidelines present an introductory overview on the tsunami risk and vulnerability in the country and the preparedness as a nation. It provides for structural mitigation measures and lay down strategies for protecting lifeline with the sea front besides laying down the guidance for developing the techno legal regime and giving an account of various tool kits for tsunami risk management.

Role of NGOs in Disaster Management:

The guidelines discuss the role of NGOs in disaster preparedness, mitigation and response and spell out the institutional mechanism for improving the effectiveness of disaster management through effective coordination between NGOs and the government at different levels.

Urban Flooding:

The guidelines aim to develop plans for the management of urban flooding with a view to guide the ministry and other government bodies for preparation of their disaster management plans on this aspect of disaster, recurrent in urban areas during monsoon. While reviewing the existing international and national practices for the design and maintenance of the urban drainage system, it addresses the issue of urban flood risk, vulnerability analysis and hazard mapping and provides for response action.

Management of Dead in the Aftermath of Disaster:

These guidelines are aimed at institutionalising the standard procedure for proper management of dead bodies and animal carcasses in the aftermath of disasters.

Plan to counter threats to Municipal Water Supply and Water Reservoirs :

The plan aims to counter any threat to municipal water supply and water reservoir in view of such a Disaster Management in India perception and taking into account the present water supply system and legislative framework. The plan suggests to framing a preparedness plan and also outlining the guidelines for a standard operating plan. NDMA from time to time has also been organizing workshops on different issues related to disasters and publishing its reports for action by concerned Ministry or agency.

National Action Plan on Climate Change

It outlines existing and future policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation.  The plan identifies eight core “national missions” running through 2017 and directs ministries to submit detailed implementation plans to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change by December 2008. Emphasizing the overriding priority of maintaining high economic growth rates to raise living standards, the plan “identifies measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively.” 

It stipulates that these national measures would be more successful with assistance from developed countries, and pledges that India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions “will at no point exceed that of developed countries even as we pursue our development objectives.” National Action Plan on Climate Change identified Eight missions.

  • National Solar Mission
  • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
  • National Mission for Sustaining The Himalayan Ecosystem
  • National Water Mission • National Mission for Green India
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
  • National Mission for Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change

Prevention and Mitigation

Prevention and mitigation contribute to lasting improvement in safety and should be integrated in the disaster management. The Government of India has adopted mitigation and prevention as essential components of their development strategy. Accordingly, the Tenth Five Year Plan document has a detailed chapter on disaster management. The plan emphasises the fact that development cannot be sustainable without mitigation being built into the developmental process.

 Mainstreaming DRR involves incorporating disaster risk reduction into development policy and practice. It means radically expanding and enhancing disaster risk reduction so that it becomes normal practice, fully institutionalised within an agency’s relief and development agenda. Mainstreaming has three purposes:

(a) To make certain that all the development programmes and projects that originate from or are funded by an agency, are designed with evident consideration for potential disaster risks and to resist hazard impact,

(b) To make certain that all the development programmes and projects that originate from or are funded by an agency, do not inadvertently increase vulnerability to disaster in all sectors: social, physical, economic and environment,

(c) To make certain that all the disaster relief and rehabilitation programmes and projects that originate from or are funded by an agency are designed to contribute to developmental aims and to reduce future disaster risk.

Mainstreaming DRR into the developmental plans is an important mandate of the Disaster Management Act 2005. Integration of disaster risk reduction measures into ongoing flagship programmes of Government of India is being used as an entry point for mainstreaming DRR in development plans.

Steps for ensuring the incorporation of DRR into various ongoing programmes\plans are as follows:

(a) Identification of key programme/projects of Government of India,

(b) Identification of entry points within the programme for integration of DRR (structural, nonstructural and other mitigation measures) at various levels viz. national, state and district levels,

(c) Close coordination with concerned departments such as State Planning Commission and Finance Department for promoting DRR measures into development plans and policies,

(d) Advocacy for allocation of dedicated budget for DRR within the departmental plans,

(e) Preparation of guidelines for integration of disaster risk reduction measures into development plans of various departments at the district and sub-district levels.

Prevention and Mitigation

Mitigation Plans have been submitted by the ministries of Defence, Mines (Geological survey of India), Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Railways and Water Resources, which are under examination and finalization. It is expected that once these mitigation plans are approved, the concerned ministry will undertake activities for taking the prevention and mitigation measures to address the hazard and risk involved in the activities of their sector. It would be the endeavor of the government to persuade the other ministries who have yet to bring their Mitigation Plans at the draft stage to take it further for approval and adoption.

National Disaster Mitigation Fund:

Section 47 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 provides for constitution of National Disaster Mitigation Fund. The provisions of the Act are as under:

(a) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a fund to be called the National Disaster Mitigation Fund (NDMF) for projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation and there shall be credited thereto such amount which the Central Government may, after due appropriation made by parliament by law in this behalf.

(b) The National Disaster Mitigation Fund shall be applied by the National Disaster Management Authority. The modalities of constitution of NDMF have been discussed by MHA with the MoF, Planning Commission and NDMA from time to time. A reference was made to 13th Finance Commission. The 13th Finance Commission has given its report and as per its recommendations: “Mitigation and reconstruction activities should be kept out of the schemes funded through Finance Commission grants and met out of overall development plan funds of the centre and the states.” The issue is under consideration of Ministry of Home Affairs with other concerned Ministries.

Measures taken for Prevention and Mitigation of Hazards

Risk of destruction and casualties associated with different disasters can substantially be reduced by introduction of prevention and mitigation measures. Mitigation is generally categorised into two main types of activities i.e. structural and non-structural. Structural mitigation refers to any physical construction to reduce or avoid possible impacts of hazards, which include engineering measures and construction of hazard-resistant protective structures and infrastructure. Nonstructural mitigation refers to policies, awareness, knowledge development, public commitment, and methods and operating practices, including participatory mechanisms and the provision of information, which can reduce risk with related impacts.

The Government of India has adopted several mitigation measures for reducing the risk of being affected by disasters. These measures are being implemented by the concerned ministries.


India has been divided into five seismic zones according to the maximum intensity of earthquakes expected. Of these, zone V is most active and comprises whole of Northeast India, the northern portion of Bihar, western Uttar Pradesh hills, Himachal Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. 4.5.2 Pace of Urbanisation in India has been increasing. Many of the cities and townships including the national capital of New Delhi, are located in zones of high seismic risk. Typically, the majority of the constructions in these cities are not earthquake resistant.

Regulatory mechanisms are weak, thus any earthquake striking in one of these cities would turn into a major disaster. Six major earthquakes have struck different parts of India over a span of last 15 years. The following measures have been initiated for prevention and mitigation of such disasters:

National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project (NERMP): Understanding the importance of the management of such hazardous situations caused by the earthquake, the Government of India has taken a national initiative for launching a project of ‘National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project (NERMP). The proposed project aims at strengthening the structural and nonstructural earthquake mitigation efforts and reducing the vulnerability in the high risk districts prone to earthquakes. Necessary risk mitigation measures are proposed to be put in place in the highly seismic zones. NDMA, tasked with this project has prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) which is under consultation with all the stakeholders. The proposed components of the project include techno-legal regime, institutional strengthening, capacity building and public awareness etc.

National Building Code (NBC): The National Building Code of India (NBC), a comprehensive building code, is a national instrument providing guidelines for regulating the building construction activities across the country. The NBC was first published in 1970 at the instance of Planning Commission and was revised in 1983. Thereafter three major amendments, two in 1987 and the third in 1997 were issued. Considering a series of further developments in the field of building construction, including the lessons learnt in the aftermath of number of natural calamities like devastating earthquakes and super cyclones, a project for comprehensive revision of NBC was taken up under the aegis of National Building Code Committee.

The revised NBC has now been brought out as National Building Code of India 2005 (NBC 2005). The salient features of the revised NBC include meeting the challenges posed by natural calamities and reflecting the state-of-the-art and contemporary applicable international practices.


Recurrent cyclones account for a large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property, and severe damage to infrastructure, thus reversing the developmental gains whenever disasters occur. In order to reduce the loss of life and properties in the events of future calamities, the NCRMP has been launched by MHA in three phases in the cyclone prone coastal states and Union Territories, keeping in view the vulnerability of the states and their readiness with investment proposals.


National Flood Risk Mitigation Project (NFRMP):

NFRMP has been envisaged for mitigation or reduction in risk, severity or consequences of floods. It aims at ensuring that arrangements are in place to mobilise the resources and capability for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery from disasters besides creating awareness among vulnerable communities. NDMA has been entrusted to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on Flood Risk Mitigation Project.

Flood Management Programme: The state governments are engaged in flood management work since the independence of the country. Upto the Tenth Five Year Plan, 45.6 million hectares (m-ha.) of flood prone areas in the country had been provided a reasonable degree of protection. The Eleventh Five Year Plan envisages protecting an additional area of 2.18 million hectares. Management of water resources is primarily the responsibility of the state governments. The schemes for Flood Control and Protection are therefore, to be planned, funded and executed by the state governments.

Study of Land Contour by GSI

Geological Survey of India (GSI) studied the shape and material of the land getting inundated and generates data on area, shape, slope, infiltration and permeability of soil of the basin, drainage pattern, landform and longitudinal and cross profiles of the channels. On the basis of these studies, GSI produces flood hazard maps indicating prohibitive, Restricted, Cautionary and Flood Free Zones.


The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India released a manual for drought management in November, 2009. The manual suggests for looking beyond the traditional drought management through famine codes for dealing with situations of mass hunger and collective penury. It focuses on plans which take into account all capabilities of the state to address the impact of drought i.e., focus on mitigation measures, tapping newer technologies, enabling the systems adapt to the new legal framework and including improvement and area development programmes in drought mitigation.


A Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Strengthening of Fire and Emergency Service in the country was launched in November 2009 at an outlay of ` 200 crores. The overall objective of the scheme is to strengthen fire and emergency services in the country and progressively transform it into Multi-Hazard Response Force capable of acting as first responder in all types of emergency situations. As the scheme is to be implemented with the centre and state contributions for procurement of equipment (in the ratio of 75:25 and for north-eastern states in the ratio of 90:10) within the XIth Five Year Plan period, the state governments are to contribute ` 40.23 crore as their share.

Forest Fire Management:

Fire prevention, detection and suppression activities are state subjects. The Central Government has been formulating policy, planning and financing the states from time to time. Forest Protection Division of Ministry of Forests headed by DIG of Forests is responsible for the forest fire management at the central level. The Joint Forest Management Committees, 36,165 in number across the country, have been given the responsibility to protect the forests from fires. The Central Government has issued the National Forest Fire, Prevention and Control guidelines and has also worked on a National Master Plan on Forest Fire Control.

A centrally sponsored scheme ‘Intensification of Forest Management’ initiated since the Tenth Five Year Plan has allocated 15 percent of the funds for forest fire management.

Oil Industry

In the oil industry, the disaster management plan is maintained at the area level and covers a wide aspect (since their activities are likely to affect local people also). Oil companies have established their Crisis Management Plan at the company level and at the HQ level also with specialist to deal with fires and other identified hazards. In oil companies, it has been observed that international players for rescue and recovery operations are also hired at very short notice at cater to the specific requirements.

Chemical Disasters

The MOEF has taken the following measures towards developing a Regulatory Framework for Chemical Safety: (i) The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986. Under the Act, two rules have been notified for ensuring chemical safety, namely, (a) The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 (MSIHC) amended in 1994 and 2000; (b) The Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness, and Response) Rules, 1996 (EPPR) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. (ii) The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991, amended in 1992 and the Public Liability Insurance Rules 1991, amended in 1993 require maximum hazard units to procure an insurance policy and deposit an equal amount in the Environment Relief Fund to provide immediate relief to victims of chemical accidents.

Prevention of Disasters in Mines

The various safeguards and preventive measures against coal mine fires are outlined in the Coal Mines Regulations, 1957 and related circulars, notifications and technical instructions. The Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) examines from each and every application for underground and surface mining from all considerations. Wherever necessary the DGMS imposes additional precautionary and preventive measures. The officers of the DGMS from time to time inspect the mines to assess the implementation of the measures and suggest modifications, etc.


The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is instrumental and responsible for implementation of various programmes on a national scale in the areas of prevention and control of major communicable diseases and promotion of traditional and indigenous systems of medicines. This ministry also assists states in preventing and controlling the spread of seasonal disease outbreaks and epidemics through technical assistance. It is actively involved in disease diagnosis during epidemics and outbreaks, operational research, manpower development, advisory role and other multifarious activities towards prevention and control of a cascade of epidemic prone disease of larger public health importance in collaboration with National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) and external organisations and institutes.

Post-disaster management of health, sanitation and hygiene services is crucial to prevent an outbreak of epidemics. The draft Public Health (Prevention, Control and Management of Epidemics, Bio-terrorism and Disasters) Bill prepared by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is under consideration for enactment.

National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) is the key programme for prevention/control of outbreaks/epidemics of malaria, dengue, chikungunya etc., vaccines administered to reduce the morbidity and mortality due to diseases like measles, diphtheria, pertussis, poliomyelitis etc. Two key measures to prevent/control epidemics of water-borne diseases like cholera, viral hepatitis etc. include making available safe water and ensuring personal and domestic hygienic practices are adopted.

It is impossible to always prevent epidemics, but its impact can always be mitigated by anticipating them and by being prepared. Epidemic preparedness and response is a multisectoral and multi-agency activity. Health sector plays a lead role in preparing and executing the epidemic preparedness plan but need the expertise and support of other disciplines/sectors also. Planning process will inter alia require extensive review of health infrastructure, disease surveillance and response system, availability of laboratories, trained professionals, drugs, vaccines and equipment in the country, communication system, coordinating mechanism between different sectors and between the national and international agencies and legal issues.

Preparedness and Response

Facing disaster by way of mitigation, prevention, preparedness, response, evacuation, relief and rehabilitation has been part of the administrative ethos. India has a long history of rendering relief in an organized fashion in times of drought and famine. The states have antiquated relief code which deals with the general principles of administration of relief. It starts with the responsibility of the Government for combating distress, defining scope of object of such measures etc. India, with a vast agrarian economy in the past had focused on distress relief mainly related to agricultural activities. Preparedness included collection of statistical data on the rainfall, weather conditions, crop pattern activities relating to management of cattle etc. The relief work focused on departmental work and village work for generation of employment during drought.

With the changing pattern of disaster and with the introduction of technology, material and new financial terms into disaster management, several modifications have been incorporated in the administrative measures for relief work. The scope of disaster has since changed and so the response thereto.

Institutional Arrangements

Forecasting about climate change is pre requisite for taking preparedness measure to respond to the disaster is the most important element of disaster management. The Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Ministry of Science & Technology (MST), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Ministry of Non-conventional Energy (MNES), Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), Ministry of Defence (MoD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) promote and undertake climate and climate change related research in the country.

India Meteorological Department (IMD)

India Meteorological Department’s tradition of monitoring weather and climate spans more than 135 years giving it a sound and useful dataset to fall back upon for environmental assessment. Ozone monitoring network was started as a globally pioneering effort as early as in 1954 realizing that this trace gas plays a very important role in atmospheric chemical mechanisms. It also started radiation measurements about 50 year back and currently maintaining 45 stations in the country for providing exclusive countrywide dataset for assessment of solar energy resources.

A network of 10 Global Atmosphere Watch Stations (GAW, formerly Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network or BAPMoN) consisting of Allahabad, Jodhpur, Kodaikanal, Minicoy, Mohanbari, Port Blair, Pune, Nagpur, Srinagar and Vishakhapatnam, is maintained by IMD as per WMO protocols and standards since 1974 to generate data and information on the exchange of trace materials between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, making atmospheric turbidity and air quality measurements to quantify trends and acid rain threats.

Atmospheric monitoring: There are 25 types of atmospheric monitoring networks that are operated and coordinated by the IMD. This includes meteorological, climatologically, environment, air pollution and other specialized observation of atmospheric trace constituents. It maintains 559 surface meteorological observatories, about 35 radio-stations and 64 pilot balloon stations for monitoring the upper atmosphere. Specialized observations are made for agro meteorological purposes at 219 stations and radiation parameters are monitored at 45 stations.

There are about 70 observatories that monitor current weather conditions for aviation. The IMD collects meteorological data over oceans by an establishment of cooperation fleet of Voluntary Observing Ships (VOF) comprising merchant ships of Indian registry, some foreign merchant vessels and a few ships of the Indian Navy. These ships, while sailing on the high seas, function as floating observatories. Records of observations are passed on to the IMD for analysis and archival.

Forecasting and Warning of Cyclones

IMD is the nodal agency in the country to monitor and predict the cyclonic disturbances and issue the warning and advisory bulletins. IMD, New Delhi also acts as a Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) for providing tropical cyclone advisories to the World 107 Preparedness and Response Meteorological Organization (WMO)/ Economic and Social Cooperation for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Panel members countries viz Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan and Oman.

IMD, New Delhi also works as a Tropical Cyclone Advisory Centre (TCAC) for international civil aviation as per the requirement of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) The flood forecasting and warning system is used for alerting the likely damage centre well in advance of the actual arrival of floods, to enable the people to move and also to remove the moveable property to safer places or to raised platforms specially constructed for the purpose. The analysis of the forecasts issued during the last 25 years (1978 to 2002) indicates that accuracy of forecasts has consistently increased from around 81% to 98%. Forecast is considered accurate if forecast water level is within + 15 cm.

Tsunami warning

Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information System (INCOIS)

Post tsunami dated 26th December, 2004, Ministry of Earth Sciences has established the Indian National Tsunami Warning System at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. The Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS) was made operational on 15th Oct 2007. This agency has developed a protocol for issue for Tsunami Watch, Alert and Warnings.

The Centre gives information to all responders about the origin, time, location of the epicenter, magnitude and depth of an earthquake inside the ocean and accordingly issues bulletins.

The system is capable of detecting all earthquake events of more than 6 Magnitude occurring in the Indian Ocean in less than 20 minutes of occurrence and first report on the occurrence of an earthquake in India and the Indian Ocean region to sent to MHA within 25- 30 minutes indicating the location and magnitude of the earthquake.

Further, if any rise in water level is reported by NIOT, TEWC would issue a Tsunami warning within 60 minutes of the occurrence of the earthquake. The information so generated would be disseminated through various communication channels to the concerned user agencies in a fully automated mode.

ISRO successfully operationalised two major satellite systems namely Indian National Satellites (INSAT) for communication services and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for management of natural resources; also, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launching IRS type of satellites and Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for launching INSAT type of satellites.

The Disaster Management Support (DMS) Programme of ISRO, provides timely support and services from aero-space systems, both imaging and communications, towards efficient management of disasters in the country. The DMS programme addresses disasters such as flood, cyclone, drought, forest fire, landslide and Earthquake. These include creation of digital data base for facilitating hazard zonation, damage assessment, etc., monitoring of major natural disasters using satellite and aerial data; development of appropriate techniques and tools for decision support, establishing satellite based reliable communication network, deployment of emergency communication equipments and R&D towards early warning of disasters.

To support the total cycle of disaster (emergency) management for the country in near real time, the database creation is addressed through National Database for Emergency Management (NDEM), a GIS based repository of data. NDEM is envisaged to have core data, hazard-specific data and dynamic data in spatial as well as spatial form.

Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies

Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is the nodal agency for providing the necessary technical inputs to the National or local authorities for responding to any nuclear or radiological emergency. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the nodal ministry to coordinate with the various response agencies in the event of any nuclear or radiological disaster in the public domain. A Crisis Management Group (CMG) has been functioning since 1987 at DAE for this purpose. This Group is chaired by the Additional Secretary, DAE, and has on board expert members from different units of DAE and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Each member has an alternate member and CMG is backed by resource agencies of various units of DAE.

Director General of Mines Safety

Mining activity accounts for about 1% of the world employment but contributes to about 7% fatalities at the work place. In 1901 the then British Government in India established Bureau of Mines (now Directorate General of Mines Safety) with its headquarter at Calcutta with the object to enforce provisions of Mines Act. Till 1985, the Director General of Mines Safety was also entrusted with the job of covering the rescue and recovery operations at mines.

The Rescue Station was headed by an Ex-officio Director of DGMS and the rescue was funded by a cess collected Disaster Management in India 112 from the coal companies. Rescue Rules under Mines Act, 1952 were framed in 1985 according to which standards/quantity/type of equipment/place of rescue station etc. were also governed.

Coal companies have provided and maintained rescue station in the heart of coal mining areas namely at Sitarampur (WB), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Manindragarh (Chhatisgarh), Indora (Nagpur), Ramgarh (Jharkhand), Karimnagar (AP) etc. In case of Metalliferous sector, rescue room at the mine level/rescue station at the company level have been provided and maintained in the centrally located of mining areas by various companies engaged in metal mining, namely HZL at Udaipur (Rajasthan); UCIL at Jadugoda (Jharkahnd); MOIL at Balaghat (Nagpur); HGML at Hutti ( Karnataka); HCL at Khetri,( Rajasthan) etc.


Three core capacities are essentially required to deal with epidemics. These are (i) Establishment/ strengthening of a laboratory based disease surveillance system to collect baseline data on infectious diseases, monitor disease trends and to detect epidemics in early rising phase, (ii) Development of epidemiological, clinical, entomological and laboratory capacities to investigate the epidemics to characterize the cases in terms of time, person and place and to understand the transmission dynamics, and (iii) Development of response capacities to prevent/control the epidemics to reduce the morbidity and mortality to the minimum.

The outbreaks/epidemics are usually investigated by the district or state Rapid Response Teams. Several central/regional institutes like National Centre for Disease Control (formerly National Institute of Communicable Diseases), Delhi; National Institute of Virology, Pune; National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata; Vector Control Research Centre, Puducherry and other ICMR institutes provide epidemiological, laboratory and entomological support to the states for investigation and control when the outbreaks/epidemics are widespread and states request for assistance.

Role and Responsibility of Central and State Governments

Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal Ministry for management of natural disasters (other than drought, hailstorm and pest attack, which are handled by Ministry of Agriculture) on behalf of the Government of India. Disaster Management Division (DM Division) performs the function in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Central and State Governments are jointly responsible for undertaking relief, rehabilitation, preparedness, mitigation and response measures. The basic responsibility for undertaking these measures in the event of a disaster rests with the concerned State Government. The Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments by providing logistic and financial support in case of natural calamities of severe nature.

The logistic support includes deployment of aircrafts and boats, specialist teams of Armed Forces, Central Paramilitary Forces and personnel of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), arrangements for relief materials & essential commodities including medical stores, restoration of critical infrastructure facilities including communication network and such other assistance as may be required by the affected States to meet the situation effectively.

DM Division of MHA closely monitors the disaster and disaster like situation to facilitate strategic interventions in the form of logistic and financial support by the Government of India to augment the resources of the affected States and UTs to deal effectively with each disaster situation. For this purpose close liaison is made with the affected States on the one side and the concerned Central line Ministries such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defence Ministry of Civil Aviation, Food and Civil Supplies etc on the other.

Inter Agency Co-ordination Mechanism

Co-ordination at the Central and the State level is achieved by way of various committees involving all departments that are working in Disaster management. A response set-up across the country may be viewed in Figure 5.1. 5.21 Cabinet Committee on Management of Natural Calamities It is constituted to

  • Oversee all aspects relating to management of natural calamities including assessment of the situation and identification of measures considered necessary to reduce its impact,
  • Examine and implement programmes for reducing the adverse impact of natural calamities,
  • Monitor and suggest long term measures for prevention of such calamities in the future; and,
  • Formulate and recommend programmes for public awareness for building up society’s resilience to natural calamities. The Committee is to be serviced by Ministry of Home Affairs in all cases except in cases relating to Drought Management and Epidemics when it is serviced, as the case may be, by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and Department of Health and Family Welfare.

National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC)

At the Centre, under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary the NCMC has been constituted in the Cabinet Secretariat. The other members of this Committee include the Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretaries of the Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence, Information & Broadcasting, RAW, NDMA, Deputy NSA and Director of Intelligence Bureau. Secretary (Security) Cabinet Secretariat is the convener of the NCMC.

The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary. 5.23 Crisis Management Group (CMG)/National Executive Committee This is a group under the Chairmanship of the Home Secretary comprising the senior officers from the various ministries and other concerned departments. CMG’s function is to review contingency plans every year formulated by the Central Ministries/ Departments and the measures required for dealing with a natural disaster; co-ordinate the activities of the Central Ministries and the State Governments in relation to disaster preparedness and relief.

Role of the State Government

In the context of federal set-up of India, the responsibility to formulate the Governments response to a natural calamity is essentially that of the concerned State Government. However, the Central Government, with its resources, physical and financial does provide the needed help and assistance to buttress relief efforts in the wake of major natural disasters. The dimensions of the response at the level of National Government are determined in accordance with the existing policy of financing the relief expenditure and keeping in view the factors like.

(i) gravity of a natural calamity,

(ii) scale of the relief operation necessary, and

(iii) Requirements of Central assistance for augmenting the financial resources at the disposal of the State Government.

Most of the States have Relief Commissioners under the Department of Disaster Management, who are in charge of the relief measures in the wake of natural disasters. In the absence of the Relief Commissioner, the Chief Secretary or an Officer nominated by him is in overall charge of the Relief operations in the concerned State.

At the state level, the State Relief Commissioner supervises and controls relief operations through Collectors or Deputy Commissioners, who are the main functionaries to coordinate the relief operation at district level. The State Governments are autonomous in organizing relief operations in the event of natural disasters and in developing the long-term rehabilitation measures. The State Government’s efforts are supplemented by central Government based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

State Crisis Management Group (SCMG)

There is a State Crisis Management Group (SCMG) under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary and Relief Commissioner. This Group comprises senior officers from the Departments of Revenue/relief, Home, Civil Supplies, Power, Irrigation, Water Supply, Panchayat (local selfgovernment), Agriculture, Forests, rural Development, and health, Planning, Public Works and Finance.

The SCMG is required to take into consideration the guidance received, from time to time, from Government of India and formulate action plans for dealing with different natural disasters. It is also the duty of the Relief Commissioner of the State to establish a Emergency Operation Center (Control Room) at State headquarters as soon as a disaster situation develops. Besides having all updated information on forecasting and warning of disaster, the EOC would also be the contact point for the various concerned agencies.

Role of District Administration

The district Administration is the focal point for field level organizations. It is responsible for implementation of all government contingency plans. Considerable powers have therefore been wrested upon the District Collector to carry out operations in the shortest possible time.

Preparedness and Response

The District Administration in the country is required to prepare an advance Contingency Plan depending on the type of disaster likely to affect the district. Contingency Plans are to follow a framework as laid down nationally which comprises type of preparedness, the relief material required to be mobilized and the concerned departments that need to work together and provide an efficient feedback and monitoring system.

The District Magistrate exercises coordinating and supervisory powers over functionaries of all the Departments at the district level in the event of emergencies. During actual operations for disaster mitigation or relief, the powers of the Collector are considerably enhanced, generally, by standing instructions or orders on the subject, or by specific Governments orders, if so required.

Sometimes, the administrative culture of the State concerned permits, although informally, the collector to exercise higher powers in emergency situations and the decisions are later ratified by the competent authority.

District Relief Committee:

The district level Relief Committee consisting of official and non-official members including the local Legislators and the Members of Parliament reviews the relief measures.

Role of Sub-district Administration

A District is sub-divided into sub-divisions and Tehsils or Talukas. The head of a sub-division is called the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) while the head of a Tehsil is generally known as the Tehsildar (Talukdar or Mamlatdar in some States). Contact with the individual villages is through the village Officer or Patwari who has one or more villages in his charge. When a disaster is apprehended, the entire machinery of the District, including officers of technical and other Departments, swings into action and maintains almost continuous contact with each village in the disaster threatened area. In the case of extensive disasters like drought, contact is maintained over a short cycle of a few days. The entire hierarchy right from the Central Government (the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation in the Ministry of Agriculture and irrigation) to the District level is connected by means of a telecommunication system.

State Control Room

There is a State Level Control Room set up whenever a disaster situation develops. The Control Room is responsible for:

(i) Transmitting information about the development of a crisis as a result of natural disaster on continued basis to the Central Relief Commissioner.

(ii) Receiving instructions and communicating them to appropriate agencies for immediate action.

(iii) Collection and submission of information relating to implementation of relief measures to the Central Relief Commissioner; and

(iv) Keeping the State level authorities apprised of the developments on a continuing basis.

District Control Room

Likewise in the wake of natural disasters, a Control Room is set up in the district for day-today monitoring of the rescue and relief operations on a continuing basis, operationalising the contingency plan and keep close liaison with the State Headquarters, NGOs and other agencies dealing with disaster management and relief.

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