The Disaster Management Acts & Laws: Claims, Reliefs & Cases under Indian Law

disaster management laws and acts

The Disaster Management Acts & Laws: Claims & Reliefs at the time of Natural Calamities & Hazards

BY LAWNN INTERN: AISHWARYA AGRAWAL

  1. Introduction

A disaster is a sudden calamitous event which results in serious disturbance to the functioning of a society or community. It also causes human, material, economic and environmental losses. Such losses usually exceed ability of the community or society to cope using its own resources. Natural disaster can be of any kind: Earthquakes, floods, Volcanic eruptions, Tsunami, Avalanches & Landslides, Sinkholes etc.

One of the well established laws related to disaster management are The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and National Disaster Management Policy. Along with it, other laws like Air act 1971, Water Act 1984, Environment Act, 1986, Indian Penal Code, 1860, etc. though have provisions for prevention of disaster as a result of some specific activities but lack provisions dealing with these disasters and various related matters with it.

 

2.  Acts and Laws

 

The Disaster Management Act, 2005, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 28 November, and by the Lok Sabha on 12 December 2005. It received the assent of The President of India on 9 January 2006. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has 79 sections in set of 11 chapters. The Act extends to the whole of India. The Act provides for the effective management of disasters and for matters related with it.

The act provides formation of the following to combat disaster:

  • National Disaster Management Authority,
  • State Disaster Management Authority,
  • District Disaster Management Authority.

 

National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM), 2009 came into force October 22, 2009. The policy aims to have a safe and disaster resilient India.

It provides for developing a proactive, holistic, multi-disaster facet and technology driven strategy through a culture of

  • preparedness,
  • prevention,
  • mitigation, and
  • response

for the same.

 

 

III. Relief That A Government Provides And That Which A Victim Can Claim

 

Relief can be provided through following ways:

 

Food:

Food supplies are frequently part of the Red Cross/Red Crescent response to emergencies.. In every instance it is necessary to ensure that food donations are culturally and nutritionally appropriate for the affected population and that the costs or their purchase, transportation, storage and distribution is kept to a minimum.
Shelter:

Shelter is a critical determinant for survival in the initial stages or a disaster. Shelter is necessary for personal safety and security, protection from the elements and resistance to ill health and disease.
Non-food items:

When people have lost everything in a disaster, they require basic and culturally appropriate goods and supplies to maintain their health, privacy and dignity, to meet their personal hygiene needs. To these might include clothing, blankets, bedding. Stoves and kitchen sets, water containers and hygiene products.

 

Tracing and restoring family links:

The separation or family members in natural disasters are a critical humanitarian concern. Often the primary need of affected family members is to restore family links.
Psychological Support:

Psychosocial care deals with a broad range or emotional and social problems and helps in restoring social cohesion as well as the independence and dignity or individuals and groups. It prevents pathologic developments and further social dislocations.

 

  1. What National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM), 2009 provides?

As in National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM), 2009, Central response follows two types of reliefs to Disaster Management. They are:

The primary relief functions of the Central Government are concerned with:

  • Forecasting and operation of waning system:
  • Maintenance of uninterrupted communication;
  • wide publicity to warnings of impending calamity, disaster preparedness and melier measures through TV, AIR and Newspapers;
  • Transport with particular reference to evacuation and movement of essential commodities and petroleum products; etc.

The secondary relief functions of the Central Government would relate to:

  • flood/inflow forecasts from the Central water Commission;
  • Relief, rehabilitation and restoration through military aid to civil authorities;
  • Contingency plans for crops, cattle preservation nutrition and health measures;
  • Technical and technological inputs for provision or drinking water; etc.

 

  1. Supreme Court On Disaster Management

A bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik sought response from the Centre, the states and the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands on a PIL alleging that governments have failed to implement in true spirit the act which was passed in 2005.
The six other states issued the notice are Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat.

 

Recently, in Gaurav Kumar Bansal versus Union of India & Ors on 8th May 2017, the apex court criticized the lax approach of many courts in taking adequate steps for preparing to disasters.

Also, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been asked by the Supreme Court to be extra-vigilant and ready to deal with disasters.

 

 

Aishwarya Agrawal is a student pursuing B.A.LL.B from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and is passionate towards the field of Law. 

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