Disaster and Disaster Management

A disaster can be defined as a natural or man-made calamity, mishaps or a catastrophe which is beyond the bearing capacity of the population. It tends to destroy the developmental efforts and disrupts the progress, thus, pulling back the affected the country by several years.An effective disaster management plan is essential to tackle disasters at all levels.

Continuously increasing vulnerability to disaster is directly-related to increasing population, rapid industrialization and developmental work in high-risk zones and environmental degradation and climate change. Especially, the group which is most effected by a disaster comprises of the economically and socially weaker segment of the society.

Thus, looking at the recent times where the frequency of occurrence of disasters has increased, the urgent of the hour is to make a paradigm shift in the disaster management programs. That is, from relief-centric approach to a proactive approach that lays stress on the prevention and preparedness, rather than post disaster rehabilitation and recovery.

An effective disaster management plan must include the following objectives:

  • Promotion of prevention and preparedness by means of knowledge and innovation.
  • Encouraging technology and awareness towards the environment.
  • Ensuring the implementation of community based disaster management program.
  • Disaster management should be included in the process of planning and development.
  • Co-operation between various agencies is not only at the national level, but at international level also.
  • Establishment of proper and effective mechanism for monitoring and assessments of the disaster risk.
  • Development of early warning system and forecasting by the help of technology.
  • An effective disaster management plan must be able to give proactive and prompt response to the disastrous situation.
  • Planning a multi-sectoral strategy.
  • Effective participation of media and information technology with an aim of creating awareness among the masses.


India is prone to a number of natural as well as man-made disasters in varying degrees. And, keeping in view that development cannot be sustained unless disaster mitigation measures re made part of the development process, the Government has made a major shift from its relief centric approach to a holistic and integrated approach covering the whole cycle of disaster management which includes prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. The approach aims at conserving development gains and to minimize loss of life, livelihood and property.

In pursuance of this approach, the Government of India has, in 2005, notified the Disaster Management (DM), which aims at framing and monitoring the implementation of various disaster management programs, ensuring measures for prevention and mitigation of the effects of disasters and prompt response to any disastrous situation.

  The Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides for the establishment of the following institutions at national, state and district levels.

a) National Disaster Management Authority

The Authority initially has been created under the Disaster Management Act. Being chaired by the Prime Minister, it is responsible for lying down various policies, plans and issuing guidelines on disaster management.

b) State Disaster Management Authority

SDMA’s have been constituted for laying down policies and plans for disaster management in their respective states and are in the process of becoming operational

c) District Disaster Management Authorities

These authorities have been set up as planning, co-ordinating and implementing bodies for disaster management and to take all necessary measures in the district following the guidelines issued by the National and State Authorities.

d) National Disaster Response Force

10 battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) consisting of 144 specialized teams trained in various types of natural, man-made and non-natural disasters have been set up. These battalions are being trained to respond to natural disasters and 4 of them are being specially trained for handling radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.


The various schemes/projects and grants for disaster management in India are described below:

State Disaster Response Fund

  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005 stipulates the establishment of a National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) at the national and state level, respectively.
  • The Finance Commission had recommended for capacity-building within the administrative machinery for better handling of disaster response and for preparation of District and State level disaster management plans, as envisaged under the Disaster Management Act.
  • This capacity building is aimed at helping the states to provide necessary training and support capacity-building of stakeholder and functionaries, preparation of Disaster Management Plans on the basis of risk and vulnerability analysis and strengthening of Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs).

GOI-USAID Disaster Mgmnt Support Project

The Government of India has signed a Project Grant Agreement with U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) for implementation of the Disaster Mgmnt Support (DMS) Project. The agreement was signed in 2003. Later on, the period of the agreement was extended to 2015. The objective of signing the agreement was to reduce vulnerability to disaster and build capacity of key institutions in India, related to disaster management.

Major Activities under this project are as follows:

  • Strengthening the forecasting and early warning system and providing technical support of over 200 computer modelling and making better use of radar data.
  • Designing and demonstrating earthquake retrofitting of five public buildings in Delhi.
  • Providing support to Gol-UNDP Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Project and mobilising expertise from the USA Forest Service (USFS) on Incident Command System and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to key institutions in India.

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project

The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (‘NCRMP’) is a project drawn up by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (Gol) with the aim of developing suitable infrastructure to minimize the effects of cyclones in the coastal states of India in a sustainable manner. It has identified 13 cyclone prone states and union territories (UTs).

Based upon the frequency of occurrence of cyclones, population and the existing institutional mechanism for disaster management, these States/ UTs have been classified into two categories: these are:

  • Highly vulnerable states- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • Low vulnerable states- Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Daman and Diu, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Key Objectives

The key objectives of the project are given below:

  • Reducing the vulnerability of coastal state by creating appropriate infrastructure which can help mitigate the adverse impacts of cyclones, while ensuring the preservation of the ecological balance of the region.
  • Enabling quick and effective dissemination of warning and advisories from source/ district/ sub-district level to the relevant communities.
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