- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) invoked the Disaster Management Act, after several states, including Delhi, cried foul over the shortage of medical oxygen.
- Political leaders even accused neighboring states of blocking the supply of oxygen at a time when India is battling the second wave of Covid-19 infections.
GS-III: Disaster Management (Disaster Management, Government Policies & Interventions)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Disaster Management Act, 2005
- Where does Disaster Management stand in the Lists?
- What does the recent MHA order say?
Disaster Management Act, 2005
- The Disaster Management Act, 2005, (23 December 2005) received the assent of The President of India on 9 January 2006.
- The Act extends to the whole of India.
- The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.”
- The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
- The Act enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC).
- All State Governments are mandated under the act to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
- The Chairperson of District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will be the Collector or District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner of the district.
- The Act provides for constituting a National Disaster Response Force “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under a Director General to be appointed by the Central Government.
- Definition of a “disaster” in the DM Act states that a disaster means a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes.
- The objective of the Act is to manage disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
- The Act contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as the creation of funds for emergency response, National Disaster Response Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels.
- The Act also devotes several sections various civil and criminal liabilities resulting from violation of provisions of the act.
So, what exactly does the Disaster Management Act do?
- The Disaster Management Act allows the Centre to issue guidelines, directions or orders to the States for mitigating the effects of any disaster.
- The definition of ‘disaster’ under the Act is quite broad and, literally speaking, would include a pandemic too.
Where does Disaster Management stand in the Lists?
- Disaster management as a field of legislation does NOT find mention in either List II or List III, nor does any particular entry in List I specifically deal with this.
- Thus, the Disaster Management Act could only have been enacted by Parliament in exercise of its residuary powers of legislation under Article 248 read with Entry 97 of List I.
- One of the most glaring inadequacies in the Act is the absence of a provision for declaration of ‘disaster- prone zones’.
- Almost all disaster related legislations in the world have mapped out disaster- prone zones within their respective jurisdictions.
- The state cannot be expected to play a pro- active role unless an area is declared ‘disaster- prone’. Classification helps in determining the extent of damages as well.
- The Act portrays every disaster as a sudden occurrence and completely fails to take into account that disasters can be progressive in nature as well.
- The Act calls for establishment of multiple- national level bodies, the functions of which seem to be overlapping, making coordination between them cumbersome.
- The local authorities, who have a very valuable role to play in the wake of any disaster as first responders, barely find a mention at all. There are no substantive provisions to guide them, merely a minor reference to taking ‘necessary measures’.
- Added to that, delayed response, inappropriate implementation of the plans and policies, and procedural lags plague the disaster management scheme in India.
- Inadequate technological capacity for accurate prediction and measurement of the disaster result in large scale damage.
What does the recent MHA order say?
- In its order, the MHA said no restriction shall be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the states.
- The MHA order also says no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state/UT in which they are located.
- Free movement of vehicles carrying oxygen must be enabled in cities without any restriction of timing, while also enabling inter-city supply without any restrictions.
- No authority shall attach the oxygen carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas for making supplies specific to any particular district(s) or area.
- Supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the Government, is prohibited with effect from April 22 until further orders.
- Slates/UTs shall strictly abide by the supply plan of medical oxygen prepared by Empowered Group ll and as revised from time to time.
-Source: The Hindu