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

Karnataka Drought Relief: Let there not be a (Centre-state) contest, states coming to court, says SC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF);

Mains level: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges about the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein;

Why in the News?

Recently, the SC called on the Centre and state governments to refrain from a “contest”, and noted that various state governments were approaching the court to seek relief against the Centre in matters related to the disbursal of funds.

  • The bench was hearing the Karnataka government’s plea seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for drought management.


  • The Karnataka state submitted to the Central government, that 223 of the 236 talukas or sub-districts were declared drought-hit. (48 lakh hectares of land under cultivation)
  • An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) also visited the state to inspect the damage in October 2023. During the monsoon season last year, the rainfall deficit was 56% in June (the third highest in 122 years) and 73% in August (the highest in 122 years).

Supreme Court’s role in this case:

  • Ensuring Accountability and Setting Legal Precedence: The plea before the SC involves significant questions concerning the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly regarding Article 293. It questions whether this article grants states a legally enforceable right to borrow from the Union government or other sources.
    • Additionally, the court is considering the extent to which the Union government can regulate such borrowing rights if they exist.
  • Interpreting the Constitution: There should be at least five judges to hear cases that involve ” a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution. (Article 145(3))
  • Promoting Fair resource allocation in federal structure: It also raises “various questions of significant importance impacting the federal structure of governance as embedded in our Constitution.

About the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF):

  • It is a fund administered by the Central Government to cover costs associated with emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation in the face of potential disaster situations or actual disasters.
  • The NDRF is formed to bolster the finances of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) during significant disasters, ensuring support if sufficient funds are lacking in the SDRF.
  • Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, there is no definition of disasters. It can include any event arising from natural or man-made causes that can severely disrupt life for people, going beyond their coping capacity.
  • NDRF is mentioned in Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.


  • NDRF guidelines state that natural calamities of cyclones, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches, cloud bursts, pest attacks, and cold waves and frost are considered to be severe by the Government of India (GoI) and requiring expenditures by a state government over the balances available in its own SDRF will qualify for immediate relief assistance from NDRF.
  • The NDRF also covers man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks, chemical or biological disasters, or nuclear disasters as notified by the Central Government.
  • States have the State Disaster Relief Funds, where the Centre contributes 75% of the funds (and 90% for Himalayan and northeastern states) and states contribute the remainder.


The Supreme Court, addressing Karnataka’s drought relief plea, emphasizes cooperation over conflict between the Centre and states, while also examining constitutional and federal structure implications, amid discussion on National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) utilization.

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