Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the first-ever national plan for disaster management, which encompasses a blueprint for making the country disaster-resilient.
The National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), released on 1 June, provides a framework and direction to the government agencies for all phases of the disaster management cycle – prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.
The plan’s vision is to “make India disaster resilient, achieve substantial disaster risk reduction, and significantly decrease loss of life, livelihoods, and assets - economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental - by maximising the ability to cope with disasters at all levels of administration as well as among communities”.
Outlines role of each ministry and strengthens disaster risk governance
This is the first national plan since the enactment of the Disaster Management Act in 2005. It outlines the role of each ministry or department of the government of India, state governments and state authorities in responding to a threatening disaster situation or disaster.
The plan also covers strengthening disaster risk governance and lays down six thematic areas: mainstream and integrated disaster risk reduction; capacity development; promoting participatory approach; working with elected representatives; grievance redress mechanism and promoting quality standards; certification and awards for disaster risk management.
As regards disaster response, the plan identifies 18 broad activities and arranges them into a matrix. These activities include early warning, evacuation of people and animals, search and rescue, medical care, ensuring safe drinking water supply, food and essential supplies, communication, housing and temporary shelters, power, fuel, transportation, relief logistics, disposal of animal carcasses, fodder for livestock in scarcity-hit areas, rehabilitation and safety of livestock, data collection and management, relief employment and media relations.
On 5 April this year, the Supreme Court said that a comprehensive national disaster plan was needed in view of the growing frequency of natural disasters in the country. The Bench had then directed the government to formulate the plan within eight weeks. It also issued notice to both the central and state governments for them to frame rehabilitation plans for those affected by natural disasters.