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Disaster Management in India and Differently Abled

Dr. Sanjay Sharma
Disaster is generally understood as an event causing loss of
life, destruction of infrastructure and creating social stress.
Disaster renders people disabled in large numbers. But
what about the person who are already disabled? Disaster
management is expected to recognise that differently able
cannot respond to disaster as quickly as other can.
Therefore, disaster preparedness, mitigation, response,
recovery, rehabilitation should be inclusive of needs of
differently abled. This paper deconstructs the various
dimensions of policy framework and institutional structure
of disaster management in India from the hitherto under
researched perspective of differently abled. It also suggests
potential reforms in this direction.
Defining Disaster
Disaster is generally considered as a phenomenon having a
catastrophic impact on human life. One finds an interesting
definition of disaster in the Disaster Management Act, 2005
of India. It says that "disaster means a catastrophe, mishap,
calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from
natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence
which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering
or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or
degradation of, the environment, and is of such a nature or
magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the
community of the affected area."[ Gazette of India (2005):
Disaster Management Act, New Delhi: Government of India,
p.1.]On the other hand, the World Bank[ World Bank (1989):
Operational Directive OD 8.50 Emergency Assistance Work
System, Washington D.C.] has defined disaster as a natural
phenomenon of limited span, but causing severe
destruction to a country's economy.
Management of Disaster: Analysis of Framework

disaster management is a late entry in the governance of natural crises and calamities. and rehabilitation.Mitigation. it is crucially important to simplify disaster management as concepts and programmes of action. Therefore. . i. an advance outlay of resources. i. In other words. 2.e.e. which can reduce the loss of sufferings. development. mitigating the causes responsible for disaster. There was hardly any coordinating agency and regulatory institution regime to standardise policy and secure execution. 3. It is a stage in planning that either checks the causes of disaster or reduces the effects. the stage of alert to cope with the actual occurrence of disaster. restoring infrastructure and communications. assessment. i. in a way. different forms and types of disasters were treated generally in terms of research. disaster management includes anticipation. disaster management is a multistage process of: 1.e. and normalising life as soon as possible. and the management of "shocks" in isolation. saving lives.Rehabilitation. both human and infra structural.Management of Disaster: Analysis of Framework Until recently. It is a continuous process requiring multi-dimensional and multiinstitutional activities aiming to rehabilitate the affected people and reconstruct the affected region. In fact.Infra-structural preparedness. In brief. and to provide immediate rescue and relief to victims once disaster actually occurs. Reconstruction and Resettlement. It stands for the integrated activities undertaken both by the government and voluntary agencies aiming to avoid disaster. This involves administrative and economic preparedness.

Disaster Vulnerability of India India is one of the most disaster prone countries. 12 per cent of land is vulnerable to flood and soil erosion. and massive rain led flood in Chennai 2015 are believed to be climate change induced natural calamities. geo-climatic conditions are primarily responsible for it. needs of differently abled require special attention in policy formation and its execution. 76 per cent coastline is prone to cyclone and tsunami.3. [ Comptroller Auditor General (2013): Performance Audit of Disaster Preparedness in India. According to an estimate 59 per cent land in India is prone to earthquake. Besides. New Delhi: Government of India. Biological.]Under the backdrop of India's vulnerability to disaster one cannot deny the fact that differently abled are most vulnerable in the event of disaster.29 million hectare of forest area is prone to forest fire. p. Therefore. Industrialisation and unplanned urbanisation in India are primarily responsible for manmade disasters. Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) disasters (CAG Report: 2013). around 78. India is also vulnerable to Chemical. Besides. climate change is also increasing the frequencies of natural calamities. It undertook a comprehensive study on various aspects of disaster management in India. Flood in Jammu and Kashmir 2014. Disaster does not find any place in any of the three lists of the 7th schedule of the Indian constitution. such as nature and type of . It was as late as 1999 that the Government of India for the first time constituted a High-Powered Committee on Disaster Management: It was perhaps the first official attempt to systematically approach the issue of disaster management. India's large population. Himalayan Tsunami of Uttarakhand 2013. High Powered Committee on Disaster Management Disaster management is a late entry in India. 68 per cent cultivable area is prone to draught.

new culture of disaster management. It writes "Disaster mitigation strategies aimed at reducing the scale of destruction need to focus on the section of the population that is vulnerable and at a greater risk of being exposed to the adverse impact of disasters. vulnerability profile. cultural practices etc. Women. women. organisational framework. The act lays down the procedures for constitution of National and . aged and the disabled. and planning and finance. (iii) a culture of strategic thinking (the creation of a knowledge network).] HPC. (ii) a culture of quick response (to promote an appropriate response to the crisis). p."[Government of India (2002): Report of the High Power Committee on Disaster Management. It aptly described its objective as framing a new culture of disaster management. and (iv) a culture of prevention (instilling a culture of prevention in disaster managers and all communities). At the same time equity of relief distribution amongst beneficiary groups must be maintained (HPC: 2002)." Disaster Management Act 2005 It is in this backdrop that Disaster Management Act 2005 has been enacted that aims at a vibrant management of disaster. This act provides a broad framework for disaster management to be followed by Union and States. focus should be placed on the special needs of the vulnerable population that is. under the chapter Needs of Special Group. children. characterised as: "(i) a culture of preparedness (presence of a well-functioning warning system and the preparedness of vulnerable communities). children. aged and the disabled are termed as the dependent population though facts are much different than what are projected otherwise.disasters. covered disabled and aged in common heading.4. Socio-economic." It suggests that "When addressing the relief requirements of the disaster victims. have made them weak and have put them in a disadvantaged position. New Delhi: Ministry of Agriculture. one of its objectives of disaster management says "Ensuring efficient response and relief with a caring humane approach towards the vulnerable sections of the society. However. despite the recommendations of High powered Committee there is no provision or guidelines for differently abled in the Act. viewed on 2 May. the Union government constituted the National Disaster Management Authority in 2005. NDMA has prepared "Handbook for Training and Capacity Building of Civil Defence and Sister Organisation" in 2012. . ndma.] The Policy recognises that differently abled are a vulnerable section and exposed to higher risks in the event of National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM) 2010 The NDMA adopted a "mission-mode approach" towards the formation of the National Policy on Disaster.State Disaster Management Authorities. In one of the case study on Jagannath Puri Stampede it also received the suggestion that doctors/paramedics/volunteers should be sensitized and trained to give physical and emotional support to distressed people including differently abled. In line with the above principles. tune with the recommendation of High Power Committee."[ Guidelines of National Policy on Disaster Management. also recognises that in community based disaster preparedness the needs of differently abled require special attention. National Policy on Disaster Management . establishment of National and State Disaster Response Force and setting up of National and State Disaster Response Funds and National and State Disaster Plans. In this handbook it maintains that in Community Based Disaster Management priority should be given to the most vulnerable that includes differently abled. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Based on the recommendation of the High Powered Committee and provisions of National Disaster Management Act 2005 .

under chapter 10 on Gender Issues and Vulnerability of Weaker Section. poster and slogan competition on the occasion. Its para 7.12 suggests that "Minimum standards of relief should be developed to address the requirements of food. provides for the constitution of the National Institute of Disaster Management by the Central government.  Launched a 5-day training programme for teachers of special schools  Developed a massive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) awareness campaign framework for school children with disabilities  Pursued the participation of schools with disabled children in the DRR Day next year and similar such activities. children.. in chapter 7. water and sanitation shelter requirements. Focus should be placed on the special needs of the vulnerable population that is. . it recommends that rescue and relief operation of disaster management should focus the most vulnerable group including physically challenged. Second Administrative Reform Commission "Crisis Management: From Despair to Hope" is the third report of Second Administrative Reforms Commission. the elderly and the physically challenged (SARC: 2006)." Furthermore. It has organized following training programs for inclusive disaster management  A five-day training programme on Persons with Disabilities in Disasters for the government stakeholder was conducted in July 2011.  NIDM had observed the Disaster Risk Reduction Day on 12th October 2011 and schools for children with disabilities also participated in painting. NIDM believes in inclusive disaster risk reduction framework. health.National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) Disaster Management Act. women.1.

2005 In 2013 Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted a "Task Force to review the Disaster Management Act. Working groups.Second ARC has also conducted several regional workshops. have given many valuable suggestions. and the weaker sections. the disabled. the state government has to comply with it by taking the necessary legal measures to manage disasters. Wheel Chairs and special toilets for physically challenged at relief camps." In its report the task force has mentioned the views received by stakeholders during consultation.." On the basis of this suggestion the task force has recommended that the DM Act. therefore stakeholders suggested that "The Act should specifically mention women. and the weaker sections. children. It has powers to lay down framework legislation. One of the views is that Disaster Management Act does not mention vulnerable group. the disabled. Powers are distributed vertically. inclusion of differently abled in the central legislation will trickle down to the state laws and institution. 2005. Though the Union government has the power to issue directions. Therefore. at regional workshops. children." Conclusion What emerges from the above discussion is that the disaster management is principally a constitutional obligation of the Union government. so that they receive special attention during relief and rehabilitation in the context of disasters. provision of food supply and pension for physically challenged and elderly persons are some of the suggestions that have emerged from these workshops. accordingly. Task force to review the Disaster Management . its role is mainly confined to laying down policy guidelines and coordinating the activities of the state/local authorities in the management of disasters. Task Force on Disaster Management Act. 2005 should be amended and besides other things "There should be a specific mention of protection of the interests of women.

it can be suggested that inclusion of differently abled should not only take place in paper rather it is required to be followed in letter and spirit. Besides. The Commission also received the views that in relief camps accessibilities of basic amenities like toilets and mobility (absence of Wheel Chair) are not differently abled friendly. Therefore. Second Administrative Commission also suggests that relief and recovery work should focus on vulnerable groups including differently abled.Act also recognises the fact that at present there is no provision related to differently abled in the Act and therefore it requires amendment in which concerns of differently able along with other vulnerable groups are clearly mentioned. .