Context:

The Ministry of Home Affairs  informed the Supreme Court that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recommended the payment of ₹50,000 each as ex gratia assistance to the next kin of those who died of COVID-19, including those who succumbed to the virus while involved in relief operations and preparedness activities.

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management, GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Centre-State Financial Relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
  2. About Disaster Management Act, 2005
  3. National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)
  4. About State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)
  5. Terms and Conditions for Ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 50k

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

  • National Disaster Management Authority, abbreviated as NDMA, is an apex Body of Government of India, with a mandate to lay down policies for disaster management.
  • NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India in 2005. Hence, NDMA is a Statutory body.
  • NDMA is responsible for framing policies, laying down guidelines and best-practices for coordinating with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management.
  • It is headed by the Prime Minister of India and can have up to nine other members. Since 2014, there have been four other members.
  • The tenure of the members of the NDMA shall be five years.
  • The phrase disaster management is to be understood to mean ‘a continuous and integrated process of planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures, which are necessary or expedient for prevention of danger or threat of any disaster, mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or severity of its consequences, capacity building, preparedness to deal with any disaster, prompt response, assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster, evacuation, rescue, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction’.

About Disaster Management Act, 2005

  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005 extends to the whole of India and provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.” The Disaster Management Act allows the Centre to issue guidelines, directions or orders to the States for mitigating the effects of any disaster.
  • The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and also 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).
  • According to the Act, 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 definition of ‘disaster’ under the Act is quite broad and, literally speaking, would include a pandemic too.
  • 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.

National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)

  • The National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, supplements SDRF of a State, in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in SDRF.
  • NDRF is defined in the Disaster Management Act, as a fund managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • NDRF is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.
  • The financial assistance from SDRF/NDRF is for providing immediate relief and is not compensation for loss/damage to properties /crops.
  • In fact, the hitherto existing National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) was renamed as National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) on 28 September 2010 with the enactment of the Disaster Management Act in 2005 and consequent changes in the design and structure of disaster management in India.
  • The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority takes decisions on the expenses from National Disaster Response Fund.

About State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)

  • The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • It is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters.
  • The Central Government contributes 75% of SDRF allocation for general category States/UTs and 90% for special category States/UTs (NE States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).
  • The annual Central contribution is released in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • SDRF shall be used only for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims.
  • Disasters covered under SDRF are – Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves.
  • Local Disaster: A State Government may use up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF for providing immediate relief to the victims of natural disasters that they consider to be ‘disasters’ within the local context in the State and which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs subject to the condition that the State Government has listed the State specific natural disasters and notified clear and transparent norms and guidelines for such disasters with the approval of the State Authority, i.e., the State Executive Authority (SEC).

Terms and Conditions for Ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 50k

  • The financial aid would be given, provided that the cause of death is certified as COVID-19.
  • The money would be provided by the States from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
  • The disbursement of the amounts would be carried out by the District Disaster Management Authority/district administration concerned to the families.

-Source: The Hindu

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