Disaster Management: Is India Really Prepared To Deal With Catastrophes?

By Anush Garg:

It is the poor and underprivileged that are worst affected by natural disasters and even the man-made disasters which cause mass destruction, therefore it was very important for the government of India to take steps to create a legislative Act for the same.

Emergency drill

A disaster or catastrophe could be natural or man-made and destroys our civilisation. After the drafting of the Constitution, it took the parliament 58 long years, 6 recorded earthquakes and approximately 3,13,500 deaths to get the government moving to enact a Disaster Management Act in 2005. Even though the act was in place, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook the region of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and caused massive loss of life and property. This could have been minimised if we had planned enough and created enough awareness so people could be ready to face a disaster such as this.

An academic and practical body of learning and practise is needed in order to teach people as to what they should do in case of a disaster and how to prepare for one. One such body does exist in India and it is the National Disaster Management Authority. The NDMA’s job is to run drills with the entire populace so they know what to do, should a natural disaster occur.

Clearly, we need more than what is already being done as the average man is not aware of what he should do if an earthquake or flood strikes. If we properly plan and organise ourselves before any of the natural or man-made disasters happen, we will be able to control the loss of lives and as well as damage to public property in a much better way. The management also provides us with the essential warnings before any calamity strikes. But, because of the high rise in our nation’s population, it is not easy for the management to evacuate inhabitants and supervise the limited escape routes.

Mock drills can be an effective tools to fight the catastrophe, as they prepare the locals to act patiently while nature engulfs lives, provided they are done diligently and regularly, which currently, they are not. In addition, mock drills should be administered in various cities, towns and remote areas in accordance with the threat they impose. For instance, tsunami drills can be administered in the coastal shores of the country. Flood mock drills can be conducted in the areas of Ganga basin like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam. Earthquake mock drills can also be take place in the western side of the country where the tectonic plates cause devastation on a large scale. These mock drills have to be evolved as the population rises, new and effective methods have to be implemented to provide large scale temporary shelters to the affected inhabitants.

A list of major executive actions which are involved in responding to the natural disasters should be prepared and revised with the passage of time. Necessary measures for the preparedness, response and relief are required to be taken and their objective should be to ensure that all concerned ministries, departments and organisations of the government of India, state governments and district administrations act responsibly.

The only answer to the natural disasters is the right amount of awareness and preparedness. The more the practise by the administration and by the local people, the more number of lives can be saved.

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  1. Charumati Haran

    This is a very timely article considering the recent mock drills held in Delhi, which proved that the government is woefully ill-prepared to deal with any disaster. Until the government takes the threat seriously, there is not much hope of change.

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