Disaster Management- The Development Perspective

31 Dec 2007


The document outlines India’s experience in disasters, highlighting institutional and financial arrangements for disaster management, and focuses on areas of improvement. It also reiterates the need to view disasters from a development perspective.

Five Year Plan documents have, historically, not included consideration of issues relating to the management and mitigation of natural disasters. The traditional perception has been limited to the idea of “calamity relief”, which is seen essentially as a non-plan item of expenditure. However, the impact of major disasters cannot be mitigated by the provision of immediate relief alone, which is the primary focus of calamity relief efforts. Disasters can have devastating effects on the economy; they cause huge human and economic losses, and can significantly set back development efforts of a region or a State. Two recent disasters, the Orissa Cyclone and the Gujarat Earthquake, are cases in point. With the kind of economic losses and developmental setbacks that the country has been suffering year after year, the development process needs to be sensitive towards disaster prevention and mitigation aspects. There is, thus need, to look at disasters from a development perspective as well. Further, although disaster management is not generally associated with plan financing, there are in fact a number of plan schemes in operation, such as for drought proofing, afforestation, drinking water, etc., which deal with the prevention and mitigation of the impact of natural disasters. External assistance for post-disaster reconstruction and streamlining of management structures also is a part of the Plan. A specific, centrally sponsored scheme on disaster management also exists. The Plan thus already has a defined role in dealing with the subject. Recently, expert bodies have dwelt on the role of the Planning Commission and the use of plan funds in the context of disaster management. Suggestions have been made in this regard by the Eleventh Finance Commission, and also the High Powered Committee on Disaster Management. An approach on planning for safe development needs to be set out in the light of these suggestions.

This manual reflects the considerations outlined above. It briefly outlines the global context and the Indian experience of disasters, sets out the institutional and financial arrangements for disaster management and the response towards these in the country, looks at directions for improvement, and concludes with a strategy to facilitate planning for safe national development in the 10th Plan period.

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