The National Disaster Management Plan is devoid of many important elements that make a good and robust action plan. It may fulfill the formal requirement of the law of having a plan but it may not be effective in achieving its grandiose vision of building resilience. Critically comment. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comment:

  • Disaster Management under Environment is one of the important topics for UPSC Civil Services preparation. Questions have been asked in every year’s UPSC Mains exam on Disaster Management. 
  • A couple of years ago, the government came out with NDMP and it is the first-ever plan on the national level for DM, both man-made as well as natural. Therefore, by now, we have lots of commentary available regarding its effectiveness, positives as well as loopholes of the policy.
  • Discuss the NDMP and its nature in the intro paragraph. Keep it short and simple. Don’t forget to mention its alignment with the Sendai Framework. It will fetch you easy marks.
  • Combine the key features and positives of the NDMP in the next discussion. Points like intergovernmental, inter-department as well as institutional cooperation for DM, having a regional approach and not a centralized one, better dissemination of real-time information during disasters as well as rescue operations for agencies as well as public, scope of periodic review and improvement in the plan, investment in mitigating disasters etc will be the basis of this discussion.
  • Then raise the concerns expressed by the experts in the NDMP. It will include the concerns regarding lack of clarity on goals and timeframe, funding, the role of various institutions in DM, and missing clearcut steps to achieve the goals of Sendai Framework, etc.

Answer:

National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), 2016 is the first-ever national plan prepared in the country for disaster management. With NDMP India has aligned our national plan with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, to which India is a signatory. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) prepared NDMP.

Key Features:

  • NDMP aims to make India disaster resilient and significantly reduce the loss of lives and assets.
  • NDMP is based on the four priority themes of the Sendai Framework namely: understanding disaster risk, improving disaster risk governance, investing in disaster risk reduction through structural and non-structural measures and disaster preparedness, early warning and building back better in the aftermath of a disaster.
  • NDMP spells out roles and responsibilities of all levels of Government right up to Panchayat and Urban Local Body level in a matrix format. It provides for horizontal and vertical integration among all the agencies and departments of the Government.
  • The plan has a regional approach, which will be beneficial not only for disaster management but also for development planning.
  • It also identifies major activities such as early warning, information dissemination, medical care, fuel, transportation, search and rescue, evacuation, etc. to serve as a checklist for agencies responding to a disaster. 
  • To prepare communities to cope with disasters, NDMP emphasizes a greater need for Information, Education and Communication activities.
  • It also provides a generalized framework for recovery and offers flexibility to assess a situation and build back better.

Loopholes in NDMP:

  • Although the NDMP has been designed as a dynamic document that needs periodic improvement in tune with the emerging global best practices in disaster management, yet there are few defects in it. 
  • It has not laid down a clear and practical roadmap. 
  • The identification of activities for disaster management and disaster risk mitigation is too generic. 
  • The plan has not given a clear time frame for carrying out the activities given in the plan. 
  • It instead has prescribed that the activities must be carried out in a short, medium, mid- and long- term basis. 
  • NDMP has neither projected the requirements of funds nor provides how the funds shall be mobilized for carrying out the activities mentioned in the plan. 
  • It is silent about the monitoring and evaluation of the plan. 
  • The activities mentioned in the NDMP are not new and they have already been mentioned in the Act and the guidelines issued by the  NDMA. 
  • Unlike Sendai Framework, the NDMP does not set any goals or targets, nor it has explicitly provided how the Sendai goals shall be achieved. 

How can NDMP be strengthened:

  • Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) into development.
  • Setting periodic goals and targets in the policy framework.
  • Strengthening early warning systems.
  • Increasing awareness and preparedness.
  • Strengthening relief and rescue mechanisms with expert monitored process.
  • Robust mechanism of funding and dispersal of funds.

The NDMP provides a generalized framework for recovery since it is not possible to anticipate all the possible elements of betterment reconstruction. But NDMP needs to be supplemented with clear goals, targets, and time frames in order to achieve the vision of disaster resilience. The NDMP is a good step in the direction of disaster management in India but it should be a dynamic framework with constant evolvement. It should not be the end but act as a first step towards mitigating various forms of disasters.

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