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Himachal Pradesh Appeals for National Disaster Declaration Following Monsoon Devastation


Himachal Pradesh has urgently appealed to the Indian Prime Minister for the declaration of the extensive damage caused by heavy rains in the state as a National Disaster. The region has incurred losses amounting to Rs 10,000 crore, and there have been unfortunate casualties with around 418 people losing their lives in rain-related incidents during the Monsoon of 2023. In such grave calamities, the state seeks additional Central assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund.


GS III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Assisting States During Natural Disasters
  2. National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)
  3. Severe Calamity
  4. Procedure for Disaster Relief in India

Assisting States During Natural Disasters:

No Defined “National Disasters” Category:

  • There is no specific, officially defined category of “National Disasters.”

Definition under Disaster Management Act 2005:

  • Natural disasters fall under the purview of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • The Act defines a “disaster” as a significant event arising from natural or man-made causes, accidents, or negligence.
  • It results in substantial loss of life, human suffering, property damage, or environmental degradation.
  • Such events must exceed the coping capacity of the affected community.

Role of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):

  • The Act established the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), led by the Prime Minister.
  • The NDMA plays a central role in coordinating disaster response at the national level.

State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs):

  • The Act also mandates the creation of State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs), each headed by the respective Chief Minister.
  • SDMAs oversee disaster preparedness and response within their states.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF):

  • The Act led to the formation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • NDRF comprises multiple battalions or teams responsible for on-ground relief and rescue operations in various states.

National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)

  • National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) is established under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • Managed by the Central Government, it serves to provide financial resources for emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation in the wake of threatening disaster situations or disasters.
Funding and Management:
  • The NDRF is placed in the “Public Account” of the Government of India (GOI), categorized as “reserve funds not bearing interest.”
  • It is intended to supplement the funds available in State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) when a severe disaster occurs, and the state’s resources are inadequate.
Eligibility Criteria:
  • NDRF provides financial assistance for natural calamities such as cyclones, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack, cold wave, and frost.
  • These calamities must be of severe nature as determined by the Government of India (GoI), requiring expenditures beyond what a state’s SDRF can cover.
Claiming Assistance:
  • States submit a memorandum detailing sector-wise damage and funding requirements to the Centre.
  • The Centre assesses the damage and decides whether to grant additional funds from NDRF.
  • NDRF funds are for immediate relief, not compensation for property or crop loss. They cover emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation efforts.
Decision Authority:
  • The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) takes decisions regarding the utilization of funds from the NDRF.
Sources of Financing:
  • NDRF is financed through a cess (levy) on specific items subject to excise and customs duty.
  • The cess amount is approved annually through the Finance Bill.
  • If NDRF resources are insufficient, additional funds are allocated from the general budgetary resources.
  • NDRF plays a critical role in enabling prompt and effective response to disasters, ensuring that states have access to financial resources beyond their SDRF capacities.
  • It exemplifies the cooperative federalism approach where the Central Government supports states during times of severe crises.

Severe Calamity:

  • A severe calamity is a catastrophic event or disaster of significant magnitude and intensity.
  • It results in widespread damage, loss of life, and disruption of normal life.
  • When a calamity is declared to be of severe nature, it triggers a specific procedure for disaster relief and financial assistance.

Procedure for Disaster Relief in India:

Memorandum Submission:

  • The state government submits a memorandum detailing the extent of damage caused by the disaster and its financial requirements for relief operations.

On-Spot Assessment:

  • An inter-ministerial central team conducts an on-the-spot assessment of the damage and financial requirements for relief efforts.

Assessment Review:

  • Committees review the assessment reports, and a High-Level Committee must approve the amount of immediate relief to be released from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

Support and Monitoring:

  • The Disaster Management Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs provides support and monitors the utilization of funds.

State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF):

  • SDRF is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters.

National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF):

  • If the resources in the SDRF are insufficient, additional assistance may be considered from the NDRF, which is fully funded by the Central Government.

Budgetary Allocations:

  • Funds for the NDRF and SDRFs are allocated by the government as part of budgetary allocations.

Relief Measures:

  • Relief measures may include providing relief in the repayment of loans or offering fresh loans to affected individuals on concessional terms.

Finance Commission Recommendations:

  • Funds for immediate relief are recommended by the Finance Commission, which adopts a methodology for state-wise allocations based on factors like past expenditure, risk exposure (area and population), and hazard and vulnerability of states.

Central Contributions:

  • Central contributions for disaster relief are released in two equal installments, contingent upon the submission of utilization certificates and reports on activities undertaken by state governments.

-Source: The Hindu

April 2024