Natural Disaster Management

Disaster can be defined as an event which disrupts the functioning of the society wherein the event is of such magnitude that it cannot be coped up with the resources of the society on its own. During such times one requires a force which is specialized in rescuing, rehabilitating and bringing normalcy in the society after the natural disaster has struck. With disaster management force, they are trained, keeping in mind  three principles – how to prepare for future disasters, how to respond it when the society is in fear and what to learn from the shortcomings for future disaster management. The said disaster management force are tasked and deployed not only for naturally occurring disasters but also for disasters with man-made origins.

History

In 1999, the Government of India set up a High-powered committee while keeping in mind the need for a disaster management. Following this decision and the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the Government of India introduced a national committee for the making and preparation of National Disaster Management plans. In December 2005, the Disaster Management act was enacted by the Government of India which lead to the creation of the Disaster management authority. The Disaster management authority was divided in three parts wherein the national disaster management authority was spearheaded by the Prime Minister, the state disaster management authority was headed by respective Chief Ministers of each state and the district disaster management authority would be headed by the district magistrate or Collector.

Functions

The National Disaster management authority is the apex body which lays down guidelines for disaster management. The guidelines which are laid down by the National disaster management authority have to be adopted and followed by the State disaster management authority under the supervision of Chief ministers of each state. For fulfilling the vision of building a safer and disaster resilient society, the national disaster management authority can recommend funds for mitigating. The national level disaster management authority helps in coordinating the enforcement as well as the implementation of policy for national as well as state level authority.

Disaster management authority

The National Disaster management authority has demonstrated excellent disaster planning during Cyclone Hudhud and Cyclone Fani. In both of these cyclones, the National disaster management authority evacuated thousands of people from the worst hit zone and moved them to cyclone shelters.  Due to this, the management authority helped in reducing the mortality rate due to Cyclones. Occasionally, the management authority runs intensive earthquake drills and mock exercises for crisis management. In order make everyone aware, the authority planned on implementing guidelines in schools regarding natural disaster management; prepared guidelines for hospital safety; provided the minimum standard which had to be maintained in shelters, etc.

Shortcomings and suggestion–

There are four phases in disaster management which go hand in hand and one cannot be removed or omitted in order to focus on one of the phases. Focus, funds and infrastructure has to be put in for all four phases or else it defeats the purpose for disaster management. The first phase is mitigation wherein the disaster management authority takes actions to eliminate or reduce the potential impact of a hazard. This phase helps in prepared for the hazard which would eliminate higher casualty rates. The second phase is preparedness which focuses on training the disaster management forces with exercises and drills which would lead to efficient evacuation and rehabilitation. Due to the drills and exercises, the forces would be well prepared and educated in terms of how to act and what to do in case a natural disaster strikes. The third phase is response wherein certain actions are taken by the authority towards responding to disaster emergencies. What needs to be done and how it will be done are a part of the third phase along with quick response in the disaster struck area. Once this is done, recovery of the area is the next step, which is the last phase as well. Once people have been evacuated from the danger area, then the authority can work upon recovering the services as well as bringing back the normalcy to the disaster struck area.

In the past decade, it has been observed that in times of a natural disaster, the national disaster management authority is quite late on the scene and in times when they are on time, the work provided is inefficient. Due to this, the Indian army is called for providing their services. During the Kedarnath cloud burst, Srinagar floods, roads collapsing in certain states – it was the Indian army who was called for the rescue and rehabilitation process as the National disaster management authority or the state disaster management authority seem to be inefficient. From this it can be concluded, that the national or state disaster management authority lacks in all four phases. Due to not being aware of what kind of impact a certain disaster can cause, there is lack in preparedness which results in inefficient evacuation and rehabilitation process.

The national disaster management authority should take some inspiration from the Japanese National disaster management who helps the affected area in recovering from the disaster effortlessly due to the knowledge that they possess regarding disasters, how to tackle them, what is needed to be done during the situation and after the storm has calmed down. The tsunami which had struck Japan had created a havoc in the affected areas, however, within a span of few weeks, the place was back to its original environment with people being rehabilitated to their houses. The National disaster management authority has to strive towards becoming more efficient then only will the forces be able to help out the victims of the disaster.