Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Declaring a National Calamity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Calamity

Mains level : Disaster management

Under the existing Scheme of State Disaster Response Fund / National Response Fund of the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is no provision to declare any disaster including flood as a National Calamity.

How does the law define a disaster?

  • A natural disaster includes earthquake, flood, landslide, cyclone, tsunami, urban flood, heatwave; a man-made disaster can be nuclear, biological and chemical.
  • As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005, “disaster” means:
  1. A catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or
  2. It results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and
  3. Damage is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

How can any of these be classified as a national disaster?

  • There is no provision, executive or legal, to declare a natural calamity as a national calamity.
  • The existing guidelines of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)/ National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), do not contemplate declaring a disaster as a National Calamity.

Has there ever been an attempt to define a national calamity?

  • In 2001, the National Committee under the chairmanship of the then PM was mandated to look into the parameters that should define a national calamity.
  • However, the committee did not suggest any fixed criterion.

How, then, does the government classify disasters/calamities?

  • The 10th Finance Commission (1995-2000) examined a proposal that a disaster be termed “a national calamity of rarest severity” if it affects one-third of the population of a state.
  • The panel did not define a “calamity of rare severity” but stated that a calamity of rare severity would necessarily have to be adjudged on a case-to-case basis taking into account.

What happens if a calamity is so declared?

  • When a calamity is declared to be of “rare severity/severe nature”, support to the state government is provided at the national level.
  • The Centre also considers additional assistance from the NDRF.
  • A Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) is set up, with the corpus shared 3:1 between Centre and state.
  • When resources in the CRF are inadequate, additional assistance is considered from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF), funded 100% by the Centre.
  • Relief in repayment of loans or for grant of fresh loans to the persons affected on concessional terms, too, are considered once a calamity is declared “severe”.
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