"Crisis shouldn’t turn them beggars..."
Mahatma Gandhi during the Bihar Earthquake in 1934.
1. Although the man has made extensive progress in his relatively short existence on earth, he is still virtually helpless in front of vagaries of nature. Natural disasters such as cyclones, flood and earthquakes ravage man’s domain at will and cause much loss to life and property. Despite everyone’s concern for disasters and technological developments in the world, the response to disasters has been knee jerk and uncoordinated at international, national and state levels. The problem is more acute in developing countries rather than in developed ones. The United Nations and its specialised agencies have always had an interest in and commitment to disaster relief. Therefore, there are various disaster relief, preparedness, prevention and mitigation programmes being carried out by various United Nations Organisations  .
2. The trend of occurrence of disasters is increasing and will escalate in future. Disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes, which have been the most destructive, along with the floods and droughts that arise from extreme weather conditions, are expected to get worse due to adverse impact of climate change. In the 21st century, the 2001 Bhuj earthquake; the 2004 tsunami; the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir; heavy rainfall in Mumbai in 2006 when nearly 1 m rain fell in a single day; the 2008 Bihar Kosi disaster; the August 2010 cloud burst in Leh; and, most recently, the September 2011 Sikkim earthquake have seen the armed forces as first responders  .
3. In Indian context it is unlikely that the local civil administration will have the resources available immediately to deal with a major disaster such as the earthquake that occurred in Gujarat in 2001 or the Tsunami of 2004. Therefore, it is essential that the state governments prepare detail disaster management plans and keep the resources in terms of men and material ready for use at short notice. There is a need for civil administration at the district and state levels to organise disaster relief cells with a pool of reserve. At present due to the inability of local administration to deal with natural calamities, armed forces are invariably employed for disaster relief.
4. In spite of breakdown of communications and the absence of a major strength of troops and resources, the response of the armed forces has always been prompt and won the respect of all concerned. The mainstay and strength of the Armed forces vis-à-vis civilian organisations has been the sense of discipline, training to respond to orders, adaptability, selfless dedication to the cause, genuine concern and focused action. These factors have always resulted in many individuals and NGOs wanting to route assistance through the Armed forces. Seeing the good work being done by the Armed forces, the government organisations, NGOs and civil agencies then join in the relief effort. This generates a spirit of cooperation. The mere presence of Armed forces troops instils a sense of security and gives solace to the affected people  .
Disaster Response Activities
5. Disaster management, which involves assessment and response, can be seen in various activities. The following are various activities of emergency response.
Search and Rescue.
Evacuation and Migration.
Response and Relief.
Logistics and Supply.
Communication and Information Management.
Post-Disaster Assessment  .
1. Hypothesis. A common thread in a country’s response to disaster situation is military support to civilian authorities. India disaster relief mechanism in the present form lacks the required synergy between civil and military organisations to facilitate a synergised response.
2. Statement of Problem. The civil administration often falls back on the armed forces for assistance in crisis situations. Efficient disaster management mechanism, therefore, should incorporate the armed forces at each stage. The formulated plans should specify the assistance likely to be required in disaster situations. The most efficient system will be to have seamless integration in operations, with an aim of ‘core competency’ areas of each establishment giving its best in least time. The aim of the study is to examine the disaster relief mechanism existing in the country and analyze the interplay of various organizations in handling the disaster situation.
Justification for the Study
3. Over the past few years, the Government has introduced a paradigm shift in the approach to disasters. Corner stone of this approach is the realisation that disaster management has to be multi-disciplinary and spanning across all the sectors of development. As calamities evoke extraordinary response, the civil authority’s reliance on the Armed Forces has also ever increased. Due to their quick response, Armed forces have become a ‘mantra’ in the hands of the state to respond to such calamities spanning from Law and Order problems to large scale disasters. Despite our country being extremely vulnerable and prone to natural calamities, no detailed hazard and vulnerability assessments have been carried out either at the State or the National level  .
4. Is the country adequately prepared with infrastructure and strategy against various natural disasters? There are differences of opinion on this issue. According to some, there are certain limitations, but overall, the country is well equipped. Others, however point out that the country does not have detailed vulnerability assessments, forcing it to only respond to calamities and organise reconstruction  . It is in this context that this study assumes greater importance. It will analyse various facets of disaster preparedness, evaluate existing structures for disasters management and put forward its recommendations.
5. For the purpose of this study disasters related to war, civil disturbance and slow disasters (Like crop failure, famine etc) will be kept out. Natural disasters (Like floods, earthquake etc) and the response of armed forces in helping civil administration would be the focus of the study. The study is basically confined to the role of Armed forces, to include Air Force and Navy in providing assistance to the civil authorities in all natural calamities.
6. Method of Data Collection. Data and information has been collected from Military Papers, periodicals, newspapers and books. Disaster management setup of the country has been derived from NDMA 2005 & Ministry of Home Affairs documents on disaster management.
7. Organisation of the Dissertation. The research paper is covered under the following Chapters :-
(c) National policy on disaster management.
(d) Role of armed forces.
(e) International disaster relief system.
(f) Current concerns and recommendations.
NATIONAL POLICY ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Evolution of Disaster Management in India
1. Disaster management in India has evolved from an activity-based reactive setup to a proactive institutionalized structure; from single faculty domain to a multi-stakeholder setup; and from a relief-based approach to a ‘multi-dimensional pro-active holistic approach for reducing risk’. The beginnings of an institutional structure for disaster management can be traced to the British period following the series of disasters such as famines of 1900, 1905, 1907 & 1943, and the Bihar-Nepal earthquake of 1937. Over the past century, the disaster management in India has undergone substantive changes in its composition, nature and policy  .
Emergence of Institutional Arrangement in India
2. A permanent and institutionalised setup began in the decade of 1990s with set up of a disaster management cell under the Ministry of Agriculture, following the declaration of the decade of1990 as the ‘International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction’ (IDNDR) by the UN General Assembly. Following series of disasters such as Latur Earthquake (1993), Malpa Landslide (1994),Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Bhuj Earthquake (2001), a high powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. J.C. Pant, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture was constituted for drawing up a systematic, comprehensive and holistic approach towards disasters  . There was a shift in policy from an approach of relief through financial aid to a holistic one for addressing disaster management. Consequently, the disaster management division was shifted under the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2002 and a hierarchical structure for disaster management evolved in India2.
Organisation and Structure of Disaster Management
3. Disaster management division is headed by Joint Secretary in ministry of home affairs, who is assisted by three Directors, Under Secretaries, Section Officers, Technical Officer, Senior Economic Investigator consultants and other supporting staff. The upper echelon of the structure also consists of Secretary (Border Management), Home Secretary, Minister of State in charge and the Home Minister.
4. Shifting from the relief and response mode, disaster management structure in India started to address the issues of early warning systems, forecasting and monitoring setup for various weather related hazards. A structure for flow of information, in the form of warnings, alerts and updates about the oncoming hazard, also emerged in this framework. A high powered group was setup by involving representatives of different ministries and departments. Some of these ministries were also designated as nodal authorities for specific disasters3.
Disaster Management Act, 2005
5. This Act provides for the effective management of disasters in the country. NDMA provides institutional mechanisms for formulating and monitoring the implementation of the disaster management. It also ensures measures by the various branches of the Government for prevention and mitigation of disasters and prompt response during any disaster situation. The Act provides for setting up of National Disaster Management Authority under Chairmanship of the the Prime Minister, State Disaster Management Authorities under the Chairmanship of the Chief Ministers, District Disaster Management Authorities under the Chairmanship of Collectors/District Magistrates/Deputy Commissioners.
6. The Act further provides for the constitution of different Executive Committee at national and state levels. Under its aegis, the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) for capacity building and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for response purpose have been set up. It also mandates the concerned Ministries and Departments to draw up their own plans in accordance with the National Plan. The Act further contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as creation of funds for response, National Disaster Mitigation Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels for the purpose of disaster management. The Act also provides specific roles to local bodies in disaster management4.
National Level Institutions
7. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was initially constituted on May 30, 2005 under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister. The NDMA has been mandated with laying down policies on disaster management and guidelines which would be followed by different ministries, departments of central government and state government in taking measures for disaster risk reduction. It has also laid down guidelines to be followed by the state government authorities in drawing up the State Plans and to take such measures for the management of disasters, Details of these responsibilities are given as under :-
(a) Lay down policies on disaster management.
(b) Approve the National Plan.
(c) Approve plans prepared by various ministries or departments of the government of India in accordance with the National Plan for disaster management.
(d) Lay down guidelines for the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan.
(e) Lay down guidelines for the different ministries or departments of the government for the purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disasters and the mitigation of their effects in their development plans & projects.
(f ) Coordinate the implementation of the policy and plan for disaster management within the country.
(g) Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of disaster mitigation.
(h) Provide support to other countries affected by disasters on the recommendation of Central Government.
(j) Take other measures for the prevention of disaster, mitigation, preparedness and capacity building for dealing with the disaster situation .
(k) Lay down policies and guidelines for functioning of the National Institute for Disaster Management  .
8. Composition of NDMA. Besides the nine members nominated by the Prime Minister, Chairperson of the Authority, the Organisational structure consists of a Secretary and five Joint Secretaries including one Financial Advisor. There are 10 posts of Joint Advisors and Directors, 14 Assistant Advisors, Under Secretaries and Assistant Financial Advisor and Duty Officer along with supporting staff  .
9. State Disaster Management Authority ( SDMA ). The Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides for constitution of SDMAs in all the states and UTs. The Act envisages establishment of State Executive Committee, to be headed by Chief Secretary of the state Government with four other Secretaries of such departments as the state Government may think fit. It has the responsibility for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the National Policy, the National Plan and the State Plan.
10. District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). NDMA provides for constitution of DDMA for every district of a state. The District Magistrate/ District Collector/Deputy Commissioner heads the Authority as Chairperson besides an elected representative of the local authority as Co-Chairperson. The District Authority is responsible for planning, coordination and implementation of disaster management and to take such measures for disaster management as provided in the guidelines. The District Authority also has the power to examine the construction in any area in the district to enforce the safety standards and also to arrange for relief measures and respond to the disaster at the district level.
11. National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM). In the backdrop of the International decade of Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), a National centre of disaster management has been established at the Indian Institute for Public Administration in 1995. The Centre was subsequently upgraded and designated as the National Institute of Disaster management on 16th October 2003. Disaster management act , 2005 entrusts the institute with various responsibilities, such as to develop the training modules, undertake research and documentation for disaster management, organise the training programmes, organise study courses, conferences, and seminars to promote disaster management. It is also responsible for publication of journals, research papers and books on disaster management  .
12. National Disaster Response Force. The National Disaster Response Force has been constituted under Disaster management act, 2005 by up-gradation/conversion of eight standard battalions of central para military forces i.e. two battalions each from Border Security Force , Indo-Tibetan Border Police , Central Industrial Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force to build them up as a specialist force to respond to disaster or disaster like situations.
13. The eight battalions of NDRF consist of 144 specialised teams trained in various types of natural, manmade and non-natural disasters.72 of such teams are designed to cater to the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear(CBRN) calamities besides natural calamities. Each NDRF battalion consists of 1149 personnel organised in 18 teams comprising of 45 personnel, who are being equipped and trained for rendering effective response to any disaster situation, both natural and manmade. All these eight battalions are being trained in natural disasters while four of them are being additionally trained for handling CBRN disasters. Based on vulnerability profile of different regions of the country, these specialist battalions have been presently stationed at the following eight places :-
Chennai (Arakkonam). 
14. The Government of India has approved the raising of two additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force by upgradation and conversion of one battalion each of Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force to be located in the states of Bihar ( Bihata, Patna) and Andhra Pradesh (Vijaywada) respectively. The administrative approval for raising the two battalions was issued on 13-10- 2010  .
15. State Disaster Response Force. The states/UTs have also been advised to set up their Specialist Response Force for responding to disasters on the lines of National Disaster Response Force by the Ministry of Home Affairs . The Central Government is providing assistance for training of trainers. The state governments have been also advised to utilise 10 percent of their State Disaster Response Fund and Capacity Building Grant for procuring the search and rescue equipment and for training purposes of the Response Force  .
16. Role of Civil Defence. During times of emergencies, the CD organisation has the vital role of mobilising the citizens and helping civil administration for saving life and property, minimising damage, and raising public morale. 225 towns have been nominated as CD towns. Each town has nucleus of four Permanent Staff along with 400 CD Volunteers for a two lakh population. It is expected that each state will have one CD Training Institute with permanent strength of 36 personnel, five vehicles and other equipments. The District Magistrate is designated as a Controller for CD Towns. The present strength of CD volunteers is 5.72 lakhs, out of which 5.11 lakhs are already trained. The target strength of CD volunteers has been fixed at 13 lakhs based on the population of CD towns as per 2001 census  .
National Crisis Management
17. For effective implementation of necessary relief measures in the wake of a natural disaster, the Cabinet has established a Committee. On the constitution of this committee of the cabinet, the concerned Secretary will provide all the necessary information and data to and seek directions of the cabinet committee in all the matters concerning disaster relief. In the absence of this cabinet Committee, all matters relating to disaster relief will be reported to the Cabinet Secretary.
18. National Crisis Management Committee. A National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) has been constituted in the Cabinet Secretariat. The composition of the Committee is as under  :-
(a) Cabinet Secretary - Chairman.
(b) Secretary to Prime Minister - Member.
(c) Secretary (MHA) - Member.
(d) Secretary (MOD) - Member.
(e) Director (IB) - Member.
(f) Secretary (RAW) - Member.
(g) Secretary (Agriculture) - Co-opted Member.
(h) An Officer of Cabinet Secretariat - Convener.
19. Calamities Relief Fund. The government has earmarked two funds i.e. Calamities Relief Fund and National Fund for Calamities. The nodal agency for recommending release of these two funds is the Crisis Management Group in the Ministry of Agriculture, which is headed by Central Relief Commissioner. The allocation for the all the states under these funds is done by the Finance Commission for a duration of five years, based on the vulnerability of the states to Natural calamities and average expenditure. National Fund for Calamities is additional fund besides Calamities Relief Fund ; while 75 percent of CRF is contributed by the centre, the allocation under National Fund for Calamities is entirely by the centre and more or less discretionary  .
Forecasting & Warning
20. Forecasting about climate change is pre requisite for taking preparedness measure to respond to the disaster is the most important element of disaster management. The Ministry of Environment & Forest , Ministry of Earth Sciences , Ministry of Science &Technology, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Non-conventional Energy, Defence Research & Development Organization, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Space Research Organization and Indian Meteorological Department promote and undertake climate and climate change related research in the country  .
(a) Atmosphere Watch Stations. A network of 10 Global Atmosphere Watch Stations consisting of Allahabad, Jodhpur, Kodaikanal, Minicoy, Mohanbari, Port Blair, Pune, Nagpur, Srinagar and Vishakhapatnam, is maintained by IMD as per WMO protocols and standards since 1974 to generate data and information on the exchange of trace materials between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, making atmospheric turbidity and air quality measurements to quantify trends and acid rain threats.
(b) Atmospheric monitoring. There are 25 types of atmospheric monitoring networks that are operated and coordinated by the IMD. This includes meteorological, climatologically, environment, air pollution and other specialized observation of atmospheric trace constituents.
(c) Cyclone Warning. The IMD has established an observation network for detecting cyclones through 10 cyclone detection radars along the coasts. The detection range of these radars is 400 km. INSAT-1B satellite also monitors cyclonic movements. Ships and commercial radars are also utilized for cyclonic warnings. About 260 merchant ships have meteorological observation systems.
(d) Flood Forecast. The Ministry of water resources has an effactive flood forecast system with 157 flood forecasting centres covering 62 river basins. Along with IMD, they monitor rainfall & water levels in the reservoirs. India has also developed radars which give accurate estimate of rainfall up to 200 km around the radar site.
(e) Tsunami warning. Post tsunami dated 26th December, 2004, Ministry of Earth Sciences has established the Indian National Tsunami Warning System at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. The Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS) was made operational on 15th Oct 2007. This agency has developed a protocol for issue for Tsunami Watch, Alert and Warnings. The Centre gives information to all responders about the origin, time, location of the epicentre, magnitude and depth of an earthquake inside the ocean and accordingly issues bulletins.
(f) Avalanche Warning . DRDO’s network of more than fifty laboratories is deeply engaged in developing Defence technologies. Centre for Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) is one of the laboratories of the DRDO located at Chandigarh with its primary function to do research in the field of snow and avalanches and to provide avalanche control measures and forecasting support to Armed forces.
ROLE OF VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS
21. The role of voluntary organisations is to help people overcome the problems created by natural calamities by providing relief services to the people. They also works as the eyes and ears by acting as the intermediary between the masses and the government agencies to avoid duplication, ensure proper distribution of resources and organise vigilance groups for preventing of misuse of resources.
22. Some of the activities under taken by voluntary organisations are:-
(a) Establishing free food distribution centres, distributing blankets, clothes and medicines to prevent epidemics.
(b) Organising necessary relief camps, first aid centres,and immunisation camps.
(c) Organisation relief teams and sending them to far-flung affected areas to provide relief and monitor relief programmes.
(d) Organising awareness programmes about different relief activities initiated by Government and Non Government Organisations.
(e) Generating employment opportunities in the affected areas.
(f) Adoption of families of the affected areas.
ROLE OF ARMED FORCES
1. The armed forces of any nation are probably best organised to provide support for establishing a various of public services like public works, communications, transport, medical services, search & rescue, and support activities. They are able to react quickly in a self contained, self sufficient and mobile fashion. Armed forces personnel are well trained in the skills necessary to perform their professional activities and can function under an integrated / flexible management system. So there is an enormous potential inherent in them to provide enormous capability to restore emergency services.
2. During the natural calamities, when many parts of the country are affected by them and it is beyond the capability of local administration to organise the rescue and relief, armed forces may be called upon to provide / organise relief measures. Armed Forces may also be called upon to provide assistance to other friendly countries, in case this has been requested for. One such example is that of Bangladesh. In 1991, when it was hit by worst cyclone in the history of the country the US armed forces , carried out relief operations . In addition Indian Air Force also sent six helicopters for airlifting relief material to the affected areas.
3. Each year Armed Forces are called upon on several occasions for rendering assistance to civil administration throughout the nation during monsoon season for providing rescue and relief during the floods. The role of the armed forces during relief, rescue operations after Uttarkashi earthquake, Latur earthquake in Maharashtra, Chamoli earthquake and Floods in Orissa are well known.
4. Assistance Provided by Armed Forces. The Armed Forces may be called upon to render following type of assistance during natural calamities:-
(a) Infrastructure for Command and Control.
(b) Medical Aid.
(c) Transportation of Relief Material.
(d) Establishment of Relief Camps.
(e) Construction and Repair of Roads and Bridges.
(f) Maintenance of Essential Services.
(g) Evacuation of People to Safer Areas.
(h) Stage management of International Relief.
5. Since the civil administration remains ill equipped for undertaking quick response to major disasters, the armed forces has been the primary option. As one of the most dedicated, professional, and modern armed forces in the world, the Indian armed forces respond to any disastrous situation with all their might. It is due to their technical competence, trained manpower, and logistical capabilities that they are always ready to rapidly undertake any kind of disaster-related rescue and relief operations.
6. They are also located in most remote areas where natural calamities are frequent. For instance, when the tsunami hit the Indian coast on December 26, 2004, the Indian armed forces, co-coordinated by the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), efficiently handled relief, rescue, and evacuation work under Operation Sea Wave, including extending aid to Sri Lanka and Maldives under Operation Rainbow and Operation Castor, respectively.
7. Whether, it was the Kashmir earthquake of 2005, the tropical cyclone in Bangladesh in, 2007, the fire at Burrabazar in Kolkata in 2008, the serial blasts at Bangalore and Ahmedabad in 2008, or the Mumbai attack of November 2008, the roles played by the armed forces are numerous. In August 2010, when Leh, was hit by flash floods which killed many people and left many other injured, the Indian Armed forces’s response brought the situation under control since the formation in Leh had sufficient logistic backup. Further, during the Sikkim earthquake of September 2011, the armed forces showed extraordinary dedication to the call of the hour.
8. However prolonged deployment of military logistics may wear out the equipment meant for the primary task of fighting wars. Since the military equipment has a specific lifespan, maintenance is necessary and replacement takes time. The long-term engagement of armed forces in disaster management also hampers its war fighting capability. Over-reliance on the armed forces has blunted the initiative of civil authorities. When areas vulnerable to natural disaster are well known, the civil administration at local, tehsil, district, and state levels must establish integrated disaster plans.
ROLE OF ARMED FORCES IN FLASH FLOOD OF LEH & LADDAKH
9. On August 6, 2010, there were flash floods due to cloud burst in Leh. The civil hospital of Leh was badly damaged and rendered ineffective. The rescue and relief work was led by the Indian Armed forces, along with the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The Indian Armed forces activated the disaster management system immediately, which is always kept in full preparedness as per the standard Armed forces protocols and procedures.
10. The runway of Leh airport was operationalised within a few hours after the disaster so that speedy inflow of supplies. The work to clear the roads operational was started soon after the disaster. Army engineers had started rebuilding the collapsed bridges by the next day. The army communication system was the main and the only channel of communication for managing and coordinating the rescue and relief operations.
11. Mass Casualty Management. All casualties were taken to the Military Hospital, Leh. Severely injured people were evacuated from distant locations by helicopters. In order to increase the medical staff, nurses were flown in from the Super Specialty Army Hospital (Research and Referral), New Delhi, to handle the flow of casualties by the third day following the disaster. National Disaster Cell kept adequate medical teams ready in Chandigarh in case they were required.
12. Shelter and Relief. Due to flash floods, many houses were destroyed. The families were sent to tents provided by the Indian Army and government and non-government agencies. The need for permanent shelter for these people emerged as a major task.
13. Supply of Essential Items. The Armed forces maintains an inventory of essential items in readiness as a part of routing emergency preparedness. The essential non-food items were airlifted to the affected areas.
14. Water. Water was stagnant and there was the risk of contamination by mud or dead bodies buried in the debris, thus degrading the quality of drinking water . Therefore, water purification units were installed and established. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) airlifted a water storage system, which could provide 11KL of pure water. Further, super-chlorination was done at all the water points in the Armed forces establishments. Anti-fly measures were taken up actively and intensely.
15. Food and Nutrition. There was an impending high risk of hunger and malnutrition. The majority of food supply came from the plains through the routes Leh-Srinagar and Leh-Manali national highways. These routes were non-functional for most part of the winter. The local agricultural and vegetable cultivation has always been less due to cold weather. The food supplies took a further setback due to the unpredicted heavy downpour. Food storage facilities were also destroyed. Government agencies, NGOs, and the Indian Armed forces immediately established food supply and distribution system in the affected areas from their food stores and airlifting food supplies.
16. Natural disasters cause a large-scale displacement of population and loss of life, along with loss of property and agricultural crops leading to severe economic burden. The disaster management operations by the Indian Armed forces in the natural disaster offered several lessons to learn. The key lessons were:-
(a) Response time. Response time is a critical aspect in effective disaster management. There was no delay in disaster response by the Indian Armed forces. The relief operations could be started within 1 hour. This was made possible as the Armed forces had disaster and emergency preparedness plans in place; stocks of relief supplies and were available; and periodic training and drill of the Armed forces personnel and medical corps was undertaken as a routine.
(b) Prompt activation of disaster management plan with proper command and coordination structure is critical. The Indian Armed forces could effectively manage the disaster as it had standard disaster preparedness plans and training, and activated the system without any time lag.
(c) Hospitals are the important link in the chain of disaster response and are assuming greater importance as advanced pre-hospital care capabilities lead to improved survival rate. Role of hospitals in disaster preparedness, especially in mass casualty management, is important.
(d) Standard procedures and disaster preparedness plans need to be prepared for the civil administration and the health systems with focus on Quick Response Teams inclusive of healthcare professionals, rescue personnel, fire-fighting squads, police detachments, ambulances, emergency care drugs, and equipments. These teams should be trained in a manner so that they can be activated and deployed within an hour following the disaster.
(e) Effective communication system is of paramount importance in coordination of relief operations. In the present case , although the main network with the widest connectivity was extensively damaged , the Armed forces's communication system along with the other private mobile network tided over the crisis. It took over 10 days for reactivation of the main mobile network through satellite communication system.
(f) Disaster management involves a number of departments/agencies spanning across various sectors of development. The National Disaster Management Authority of India, set up under National Disaster Management Act 2005, has developed disaster preparedness and emergency protocols. It would be imperative for the civil administration at the state and district levels in India to develop their disaster management plans using these protocols and guidelines.
(g) Training is an integral facet of capacity building, as trained manpower respond much better to calamities and is able toappreciate the need for preventive measures. Training of healthcare professionals in disaster management holds the key in successful activation and implementation of any disaster management plan.
(h) Building confidence of the public to avoid panic situation is critical. Community involvement and awareness generation, needs to be emphasized . Increased public awareness is necessary to ensure an organized and calm approach to disaster management. Periodic mock drills and exercise in disaster management protocols in the general population can be very useful.
17. In view of the fact that the disaster management system of the civilian administration is yet to become operational, the civil authorities will continue to depend on the armed forces for disaster response. Hence, a defined role for the armed forces in disaster management is required and the following recommendations may be considered:
(a) The Indian armed forces deal with disasters relief without any database of the resources, skills, and services essential for effective response in quick timeframe. There is a need to establish a centre for excellence in disaster management for the Indian armed forces. It could impart the much needed training for disaster management to enable commanders to facilitate effective response. It also needs to be noted that learning from previous major disasters have not been recorded or consolidated. There is a requirement for necessary staff expertise in disaster response and relief operations
(b) Since, the field formations are unlikely to be equipped with the latest equipment to deal with disasters, the field formations in the disaster-prone areas need to be provided brick formations (logistics) specifically for disaster response at the earliest. This would ensure that the military equipment meant for war is not used for other tasks.
(c) Efforts should be made for utilising the expertise of the armed forces for bolstering the capability of the civil authorities, including the disaster response forces. It would enable them to achieve self-reliance and thus reduce their dependence on the armed forces. Enhancing capability for risk reduction in urban as well as rural areas and having suitable legislative and regulatory mechanisms to promote safe buildings should be encouraged as part of the civil–military relations programme. Specialised workshops and seminars also need to be conducted at the various command levels.
(d) A separate budgetary allotment should be made to procure equipment for ‘disaster bricks’ and disaster management related expenditure.
18. Disaster preparedness is vital, particularly in natural disasters.. The Indian armed forces never fail to respond in a timely andeffactive manner, but without adequate data on local resources, equipment, essential services and skill. Hence, there is a need for the armed forces to be trained in the field of disaster management to deal with various natural calamities. Reassessing India’s disaster management preparedness and the role of the armed forces could enhance the capability of the armed forces to respond to such unconventional threats.
1. Booklet on Disaster Management in India by MHA.
4. Disaster Management Act 2005.
6. Booklet on State level Programmes for Strengthening Disaster Management in India
INTERNATIONAL DISASTER RELIEF SYSTEM
1. Disasters - natural or manmade are common throughout the globe. Disasters continue to happen without any warning and are perceived to be on an increasing trend in their magnitude, frequency and economic impact. Calamities pose danger to people and assume significance in the developing and under developed countries with dense population. During the second half of the previous century, more than 200 worst natural disasters occurred in various parts of the world and claimed the lives of around 1.4 million people. Losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater in the developing countries than in developed one. Asian continent tops the list of casualties due to natural disasters.
2. There have been numerous natural, as well as, human-made disasters. Records of natural calamities can be traced way back to 430 B.C. when the Typhus epidemic was reported in Athens. Ten deadliest natural disasters recorded in the world history are dated back to 1556 AD, when an earthquake in Shaanxi province of China occurred on 23rd January, 1556 and 8,30,000 casualties were recorded.
3. Due to actual and potential consequences of disaster, the concept of international disaster relief mechanism is changing from mere relief to the victims after disaster to cover entire gamut of necessary issues involved from prevention to rehabilitation. The major actors in the International Relief System can be grouped into four general categories:
(a) The Governments.
(b) International Organisation.
(c) Voluntary Agencies.
Role of Government
4. The people of the disaster stricken country manually provide the largest amount of relief assistance. The government inevitably bears the prime responsibility for the administration of relief operation. Usually the responsibility for executing the various sectors of the relief programme is transferred to the appropriate ministry. However, the methods used by governments to administer disaster relief vary greatly from one government to another.
Role of International Agencies
5. At international level, relief assistance may be provided in the following manner:-
(a) Bilateral inter-governmental contributions. This is processed through diplomatic channels.
(b) Voluntary Agencies such as Red Cross and contribution from charitable organisation such as OXFAM.
(c) Aid through United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation (UNDRO) and other United Nations Organisation.
UN Role in Disaster Management
6. The UN General Assembly recognised the need for Global action to reduce the occurrence of natural disasters and their impact and has declared 90’s to be the decade as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.(IDNDR). The objectives underlined in the UN resolution number 44/236 are as follows:-
(a) To improve the early warning and assessment damage capabilities as also to improve capacity to mitigate effects of such disasters.
(b) Guidelines for application of scientific and technological knowledge for this purpose.
(c) Disseminate existing and new technical information with regard to assessment, prediction and mitigation of natural disasters.
7. For the above purpose a Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) was established with the aim of implementing programmes in this sphere amongst member countries. Some of the salient aspects of the charter of STC are:-
(a) Identification of Disaster Prone Zones. To conduct scientific study of such areas, collate data and arrange for exchange of such data to countries requiring them.
(b) Vulnerability and Risk Assessment. To provide vulnerability and hazard information so as to provide estimated losses occurring from the natural calamity.
(c) Monitoring, Prediction and Warning. To establish an observation network to include meteorological, hydrological and seismological warning.
(d) Relief Agencies. To be under the UN and on request of the host country.
(e) Awareness at Levels of Decision-Makers. Indicate the cost / benefits of predisaster interventions as compared to post disaster relief measures for the information of Decision-Makers.
(f) Long and Short Term Preventive Measures. Provide technical advice on the planning and construction of disaster proof structures.
(g) Early Intervention Measures. The co-ordination of inter organisational effort to modify, alter, suppress or mitigate damaging effects of disasters.
8. Methodology for Assistance. When the government of a disaster-stricken country makes a request for relief assistance from UNDRO, this requirement is regarded as an appeal to the UN system in general. If the requirements for relief assistance are made directly to UNICEF, WHO, or FAO, UNDRO is still consulted and advised of the action taken. UNDRO also informs the agencies involved, actions taken so far, that would modify or satisfy the request made to the agencies concerned. It co-ordinates each agency’s response with other relief donors and informs the disaster stricken government through UNDP field office. UNDP Resident Representative, co-ordinates relief activities at the field level. To summarise, the UN disaster relief system is characterised by two types of the focal points- one at headquarters and another is the field.
The Role of Voluntary Agencies
9. Voluntary agencies, because of their greater organisational flexibility and tendencies to work more closely with "grass roots" level, provide welfare and relief services according to specific needs of the people. It acts as intermediary between the people and the government. They play two major roles: -
(a) Alerts the public and provides an individual response to concern generated by the media.
(b) Filling gaps in long-term development programmes or alternative relief distribution system.
10. Red Cross. Today the Red Cross is the principle non-governmental network for mobilising and distributing international assistance in times of disaster. It has three basic organisational elements: -
(a) The International Committee of the Red Cross. Independent, Geneva based body, mainly concerned with victims of armed conflict.
(b) The National Societies. Found at present in 125 countries. They conduct programmes and activities directed towards the particular needs of their own countries. In some Muslim countries, they operate as Red Crescent Society and in Iran as the Red Lion and Sun Society.
(c) The League of Red Cross Societies (LORCS). LORCS is the federation if the 125 national societies with secretariat in Geneva. It acts as the international spokesman of the national societies, co-ordinates their relief activities.
The Role of the Media
11. The media plays an important role in the disaster management. Usage of satellite communication facilitates speedy transmission of information around the globe, and this provide tremendous power in the hands of media to influence global public opinion. Since disasters are a significant piece of news and capture the attention worldwide, the media render tremendous visibility to disaster-related issues and, if this is used properly, can aid the process of disaster management in the following ways:
(a) Increased lobbying.
(b) Aid prioritization of disaster risk issues.
(c) Facilitate creation of early warning systems.
(d) Increase international donations.
(e) Improve coordination of risk assessment activities.
8. Booklet on Disaster Management in India by MHA.
1. Booklet on Disaster Management in India by MHA.
4. Disaster Management Act 2005.
6. Booklet on State level Programmes for Strengthening Disaster Management in India
CURRENT CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. The trend of occurrence, of disasters is increasing and will increase in future. Disasters like tsunamis and,earthquakes, which have been the most destructive, along with the floods and droughts that arise, from extreme weather conditions, are expected to get worse due to adverse impact of climate change. In the 21st century, the 2001 Bhuj, earthquake; the 2004 tsunami; the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir; heavy rainfall in Mumbai in 2006 when nearly 1 m rain fell in a single day; the 2008 Bihar Kosi disaster; the August, 2010 cloud burst in Leh; and, most recently, the September 2011 Sikkim earthquake have seen the armed forces, as first responders.
2. ,Hence, as India, urbanises, risks are also increasing. In sum, the future will be more marked by various disasters. In India, the level of preparedness for disaster management at the centre and in the, states is extremely uneven and requires considerable strengthening. The concept of handling disasters with appropriate programmes on disaster management based on the fundamental elements of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, relief, and, recovery is of recent origin. Significantly, with frequent occurrence of disasters, there is an increasing consensus amongst, the states for setting up an effective disaster management mechanism at the state level.
3. However, although, the responsibility for coordinating, disaster response and relief operation is that of the, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, it is the armed forces under the Ministry of Defence that are called out to assist and manage the situation. Generally, the armed forces respond to, disasters as a part of their mandate to aid civil authorities during calamities. Their involvement, however, was meant to work on the principle, of being the ‘last to enter and the first to leave’. Conversely, in most post-disaster operations, the armed, forces have been the first to enter and the last to leave. Reassessing India’s Disaster Management Preparedness and, the Role of the Indian Armed Forces.
4. Prolonged deployment, of military logistics may wear out the equipment meant for the primary task of fighting wars. Since the military, equipment has a specific lifespan, maintenance is necessary and replacement takes time. The long-term engagement of armed forces in disaster management also hampers its war fighting capability. Over-reliance, on the armed forces has blunted the initiative of civil authorities. When areas vulnerable to natural disaster, are well known, the civil administration at local, tehsil, district, and, state levels must establish integrated disaster plans.
5. The provision of relief in the wake of natural calamities has largely been left to the initiatives and policies of the State Governments. Development programmes, which go to meet the capabilities of areas and population to meet natural disasters, have been left to the general exercise of planning. Therefore, measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters have not received the focus; they deserve particularly in view of the fact that 85 percent of the country is prone to one form of disaster or the other. It is, necessary that some of the issues relating to natural disaster management would have to receive specific attention at the national and sub-national levels. Broadly in the context of IDNDR, it will be appropriate to highlight these concerns in natural disaster management with the view to creating an opportunity for translating them into specific action points. The current concerns broadly relate to: -
(a) Disaster Relief Execution Capability. In the long term, specific human resource development programmes would have to be continuously implemented to ensure appropriate initiatives at different levels of the relief machinery, the availability of experienced personnel would speed up the relief effort at any point of time. Presently, the State Government machinery depends on current personnel for most of the relief effort, whether they have necessary skills or not. It would, therefore, be necessary to introduce the system of maintenance of reserves of experienced personnel in different spheres such as logistics, health, rescue and relief. The building up of such database encompassing hazard, vulnerability and resource endowment is the crying need of the hour. Such database would have to be updated continuously at the local and state level.
(b) Preparedness Aspects. The Government of India has asked States to formulate contingency plans at the district levels for dealing with different types of disasters. Such contingency action plans could clearly delineate the responsibilities of different organisations and agencies and also identify the triggering mechanism for various agencies. The continuous updating of the contingency plan in the context of earlier experience would have to be ensured through annual exercise. Reassessment of the contingency plan for an area could be made more effective by the association of personnel who dealt earlier disasters in that area.
(c) Sustainability Aspect. Public awareness and non-government participation in disaster mitigation effort is crucial for disaster preparedness to meet natural disasters. Apart from the association of medical personnel in the relief effort, there are other groups of people, whose help could also be mobilised in a planned manner for dealing with emergency operations in times of disasters. For example, the Amateur Radio Operators Association rendered signal service in providing effective communication on a real time basis in the recent cyclone and earthquakes witnessed by the country. One of the major difficulties encountered in ensuring effectiveness of non-governmental action is the problem of co-ordination and direction. In the case of sudden disasters during the initial phases, intervention by non-governmental bodies has always tended to duplicate effort or result in misappropriation of resources.
(d) Development Thrusts. Substantial resources are currently spent in alleviating the impact of natural disasters and in the process of alleviation, community assets and infrastructure gets reinforced. The disaster mitigation effort could improve capabilities of disaster prone area to avail of development opportunities. Many of the development programmes improve the resilience of areas and population to vagaries of nature.
(e) Multi Disciplinary Cell. At the state and national levels, disaster management comes to the centre stage in times of crisis and as the sit improves there is no machinery to take care of the need of Perspective Planning and formulation of initiatives for long term disaster reduction. The disaster management concerns do not figure high in the priority list in the planning bodies of the nation. There is a need for multi disciplinary cell in the State level to appraise the occurrence of disasters and the relief effort as also continuously work on programmes to be under taken from time to time.
(f) Other Concerns.
(j) Unity of Control of Operations. Presently relief is managed by adhoc organisations and agencies with little or no training in their respective fields. At present the system lends itself to little or no accountability on the part of such organisations. Relief/ Disaster management is a specialised job and should be organised accordingly. Command and Control of entire relief operation should be vested with one authority.
(ii) Theatre Reserves of Resources. Time lag between occurrence of disaster and relief provided is unacceptably long. Amongst the various causes for this are lack of manpower, equipment and essential supplies. While manpower and equipment could be made available from a dedicated organisation, the minimum essential quantity of perishable supplies of food and medicines must be held centrally as reserves on the lines of "War Wastage Reserves " of the Armed forces for a particular period, which can be turned over periodically to ensure serviceability.
(iii) Publicity. Lack of Publicity of the disaster results in lack of sympathy and assistance from neighbouring states. States must overcome the inhibition of such exposures so as to involve the entire nation/ country to mitigate such disasters.
(iv) Communications. Inadequate communications have always posed a hindrance in timely intimation of such impending disasters as also in the rendering of timely assistance to these areas. Spread out and intensive network of secure Satellite/ Microwave communication centres and helipads/ landing strips are imperative to provide timely assistance.
6. Recent Initiatives. The 11th five year plan document gave impetus to mainstreaming disaster risk reduction as one of the priority initiatives in the development planning process and disaster management. As mentioned in the report of the working group on Disaster Management for the 11th plan and also in the various initiatives towards this effort, the way forward can be divided in the following major areas –
Policy guidelines that would inform and guide the preparation and implementation of disaster management and development plans.
Building in a culture of preparedness and mitigation.
Operational guidelines of integrating disaster management practices into development, and specific developmental schemes for prevention and mitigation of disasters.
Having robust early warning systems along with effective response plans at district, state and national levels.
Building capacity of all stakeholders, Involving the community, NGOs, CSOs and the media at all stages of Disaster management.
Recommendation for Effective Disaster Management
7. The National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM) should be of capacity development. A strategic approach to capacity development can be addressed effectively only with the active and enthusiastic participation of the stakeholders. This process will comprise of awareness generation, education, training, research and development (R&D) etc. It should put in place an appropriate institutional framework, management systems and allocation of resources for efficient prevention and handling of disasters. The approach to capacity development should include :-
According priority to training for developing community based DM systems for their specific needs in view of the regional diversities and multi-hazard vulnerabilities.
Conceptualisation of community based DM systems at the national level through a consultative process involving the States and other stakeholders with the state and local level authorities in charge of implementation.
Identification of knowledge-based institutions with proven performance.
Promotion of International and Regional cooperation.
Adoption of traditional and global best practices and technologies.
Laying emphasis on table-top exercises, simulations, mock drills and development of skills to test the plans.
Capacity analysis of different disaster responder groups at State, District, and local levels.
8. Developing a Centralised Database. In collaboration with the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) an integrated Centralised Disaster database requires to be developed. Data collection on standardised format should be the responsibility of the concerned state government. Such database would facilitate researchers and decision makers to undertake range of analyses to better understand the linkages between disaster management and other sectors that would help in taking up informed risk reduction activities as well as to understand the impact of disasters on economy.
9. Early Warning Systems. Early Warning Systems and Communication and Connectivity up to the Last Mile Early warning systems vary for the different types of disasters. Due to recent unprecedented devastation unleashed by tsunami, often early warning gets linked with tsunami, overshadowing the importance of early warning against other forms of disasters. Hazard- specific efficient ‘early warning systems’ is the need of the hour and it has to be put in place permanently, so that useful information flows throughout the year and is easily understood by the local community. This needs to be coupled with the National Emergency Communication Plan to ensure real time dissemination of early warnings and information to the ‘at risk’ community and the local authorities.
10. Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs). EOCs in the country could play a critical role in coordinating emergency activities as well as in providing information to various stakeholders. Effective functioning of these EOCs during emergencies continues to be a major challenge. "State of the art" EOCs at state and district levels with access to satellite based imageries need to be planned and established.
11. Use of GIS Technology. GIS technology can provide the user with necessary information on the pin point location of an emergency situation. This would prove very useful as less time is spent trying to determine where the trouble areas really are. GIS can be used as a guide for emergency response to point out available evacuation routes, assembly points and other necessary evacuation matters.
12. Emergency Management Systems (EMS). Emergency management systems are technical aids that will facilitate the effective management of disasters situations. EMS technology can assist in several disaster situations that are critical to effective disaster management, such as:
Drafting and testing of necessary evacuation and general disaster plans (Evacuation Plans).
Establishment of required shelters as well as informing the public about shelter locations, items that should be taken to the shelter and general "shelter behaviour".
Training personnel in shelter management, first aid and other "response" skills (Manpower).
Establish a warehouse at national levle and ensure that it is adequately stocked with items for survival in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, before the arrival of overseas help.
Setting-up effective communication systems, such as, the traditional two-way CB-type radios sets.
Putting evacuation and transportation plans in place, which should include air transportation to enable air-lifts and rescues, delivery of necessary food supplies to severely affected areas which are cut-off from vehicular traffic and comprehensive damage assessment activity (Transportation).
13. Capacity Development. A realistic National Capacity Development Programme, commensurate with the intensity and extent of the hazard in India needs to be evolved and implemented, keeping in view the available resources. This programme of resource enhancement should encompass all institutions, organizations and individuals that have a role in any part of the disaster management cycle.
14. Capacity Gaps in Disaster Management. To mitigate the impact of disasters, there is a need to work collectively through multidimensional channels combining the efforts, resources and expertise of the government, non- governmental organisations and civil societies. Managing such incidents holistically is a highly specialised and skilled job which cannot be approached in
an ad hoc manner.
15. Target group. In the field of capacity development, priority should be given to training of DM officials, functionaries, trainers and elected representatives and community representatives. Due importance requires to be given to DM training and orientation of professionals like doctors, engineers and architects apart from those engaged in response and relief. DM training further
requires to be included in curricula of educational institutions at all levels of schooling and should include practical instructions as well.
16. Training of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). Capacity Building of PRIs is extremely important as they are the local authorities at the grassroot levels.
17. Awareness Campaigns. Launched a number of public awareness campaigns through electronic and print media to focus on building an appropriate environment for DM and creating a high level of impact on the target audience.
18. Incident Response System (IRS). The incident response system is a standardised method of managing disasters, which will be flexible and adaptable to suit any scale of natural as well as manmade emergency/incidents.
19. Disasters, manmade or natural are on increase. There is also increased awareness of this problem and of the need for a co-ordinated approach to the disaster management at national/international level. India, a nation aspiring to play major role in international arena cannot afford to put up poor performance in handling of disasters. Notwithstanding this, for welfare of its own people, India needs to give priority for disaster management in its planning and policies. The points that merit attention can be summarised as under:-
(a) Need for a single co-ordinator / Director at each level with adequate resources and authorities to control all relief agencies. Thus the need to create organisation for this purpose as recommended.
(b) Integration and co-ordination of functions of various organisation/Government departments involved in this process.
(c) Warning systems must be integrated and updated. Need for creating data network in future.
(d) Continuous studies, evaluation, review of disaster management process by NDO.
(e) Need to educate community to play its part in disaster management.
20. The Indian armed forces never fail to respond in an effective manner, but without adequate data on various local resources, essential services, skills and equipment. Hence, there is an immediate need of the armed forces to be trained in disaster management . Reassessing India’s Disaster Management Preparedness and the Role of the Indian Armed Forces could augment the capability of the armed forces to respond to such unconventional threats.
1. Booklet on Disaster Management in India by MHA.
4. Disaster Management Act 2005.
6. Booklet on State level Programmes for Strengthening Disaster Management in India