National Disaster Management Authority

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Relevance: G.S III- Disaster and Disaster Management.

National Disaster Management Authority


Disaster management

  • For far too long disaster management in India was marginalised as an issue of providing relief and rehabilitation to the people affected by natural calamities. While in the Central Government it occupied a place in the Ministry of Agriculture, in the States it was a concern of the Revenue or Relief Departments, and in the districts, it was one of the many crisis management functions of the Collectors.
  • However, the country now has a national vision ‘to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for Disaster Management.
  • This will be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters.
  • The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations.
  • This is also in line with the Hyogo Framework of Action 2005–15 – Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.

About NDMA

  • The Government of India (GOI), in recognition of the importance of Disaster Management as a national priority, set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in August 1999 and also a national committee after the Gujarat earthquake, for making recommendations on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggestion effective mitigation mechanisms.
  • The Tenth Five-Year Plan Document also had, for the first time, a detailed chapter on Disaster Management. Similarly, the Twelfth Finance Commission was also mandated to review the financial arrangements for Disaster Management.
  • On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.

NDMA Vision

  • The aim of the National Disaster Management Authority is to build a safer and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for disaster management.
  • This has to be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation, and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters. This national vision inter alia aims at inculcating a culture of preparedness among all stakeholders.

Organisation Structure

  • The National Disaster Management Authority has been constituted under the Disaster Management Act 2005, with the Prime Minister of India as its Chairman-; a Vice-Chairman with the status of Cabinet Minister, and eight members with the status of Ministers of State.
  • With well-defined functional domains for each of its members and concern to carry out the mandated functions, NDMA has evolved into a lean and professional organization that is IT-enabled and knowledge-based.
  • The skills and expertise of the specialists are extensively used to address disaster-related issues. A functional and operational infrastructure has been built, which is appropriate for disaster management involving uncertainties coupled with desired plans of action.
  • Conceptually the organization is based on a 'disaster divisions-cum-secretariat' system. Each member of the Authority heads disaster-specific divisions for specific disaster and functional domains.
  • Each member has also been given the responsibility of specified states and UTs for close interaction and coordination.
  • The NDMA Secretariat, headed by a Secretary, is responsible for providing secretarial support and continuity.
  • The Secretariat deals with mitigation, preparedness, plans, reconstruction, community awareness and financial and administrative aspects.
  • NDMA also has the National Disaster Management Operations Centre which will be equipped with state-of-the-art resilient and redundant communication systems, NDMA also carries out the tasks of capacity development, training and knowledge management.

National Executive Committee (NEC)

  • A National Executive Committee is constituted under Section 8 of DM Act, 2005 to assist the National Authority in the performance of its functions.
  • Union Home secretary is its ex-officio chairperson.
  • NEC has been given the responsibility to act as the coordinating and monitoring body for disaster management, to prepare a National Plan, monitor the implementation of National Policy etc.

National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)

  • NIDM has the mandate of human resource development and capacity building for disaster management within the broad policies and guidelines laid down by the NDMA.
  • National Disaster response force (NDRF)
  • NDRF is the specialized force for disaster response which works under the overall supervision and control of NDMA.

State-level Institutions

  • State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA)
    • Headed by the Chief Minister of the respective state, SDMA lays down the policies and plans for disaster management in the state.
    • It is responsible to coordinate the implementation of the State Plan, recommend the provision of funds for mitigation and preparedness measures and review the developmental plans of the different departments of the state to ensure integration of prevention, preparedness and mitigation measures.
  • State Executive Committee (SEC)- Headed by the Chief Secretary of the state, SEC has the responsibility for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the National Policy, the National Plan and the State Plan as provided under the DM Act.

District level Institutions

  • District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA)
    • Section 25 of the DM Act provides for the constitution of DDMA for every district of a state.
    • The District Magistrate/ District Collector/Deputy Commissioner heads the Authority as Chairperson besides an elected representative of the local authority as Co-Chairperson except in the tribal areas where the Chief Executive Member of the District Council of Autonomous District is designated as Co-Chairperson.
    • Further, in the district, where Zila Parishad exists, its Chairperson shall be the Co-Chairperson of DDMA.
    • The District Authority is responsible for planning, coordination and implementation of disaster management and to take such measures for disaster management as provided in the guidelines.
    • The District Authority also has the power to examine the construction in any area in the district to enforce the safety standards and to arrange for relief measures and respond to the disaster at the district level.

Functions and Responsibilities

  • NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure a timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:-
  • Lay down policies on disaster management.
  • Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan.
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan.
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects.
  • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management.
  • Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation.
  • Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government.
  • Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary.
  • Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

NDMA Policy
  • The National Policy framework has been prepared after due deliberation and keeping in view the National Vision to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for DM.
  • This will be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response during disasters. The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations.
  • In order to translate this vision into policy and plans, the NDMA has adopted a mission-mode approach involving a number of initiatives with the help of various institutions operating at the national, state and local levels. Central Ministries, States and other stakeholders have been involved in the participatory and consultative process of evolving policies and guidelines.
  • This Policy framework is also in conformity with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Rio Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals and the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015. The themes that underpin this policy are:-
  • Community-based disaster management, including last-mile integration of the policy, plans and execution.
  • Capacity development in all related areas.
  • Consolidation of past initiatives and best practices.
  • Cooperation with agencies at the national, regional and international levels.
  • Compliance and coordination to generate a multi-sectoral synergy.
  • From the national vision and the theme mentioned earlier, the objectives guiding the policy formulation have evolved to include:
  • Promoting a culture of prevention and preparedness – by centre-staging DM as an overriding priority at all levels and at all times.
  • Encouraging mitigation measures based on state-of-the-art technology and environmental sustainability.
  • Mainstreaming DM concerns into the development planning process.
  • Putting in place a streamlined institutional techno-legal framework in order to create and preserve the integrity of an enabling regulatory environment and a compliance regime.
  • Developing contemporary forecasting and early warning systems backed by responsive and fail-safe communications and Information Technology (IT) support.
  • Promoting a productive partnership with the Media, NGOs and the Corporate Sector in the areas of awareness generation and capacity development.
  • Ensuring efficient response and relief with a caring humane approach towards the vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Making reconstruction an opportunity to rebuild back better and construct disaster-resilient structures and habitats.

Achievements of Disaster Planning in India

  • Cyclone Fani was one of the worst cyclones to hit India in the last two decades.
  • Odisha’s preparedness, efficient early warning system, timely action, and well-planned large-scale evacuation strategies helped 1.2 million people move safely into nearly 4,000 cyclone shelters, thereby saving the lives of vulnerable populations in the sensitive coastal region.
  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and other organizations have hailed government and volunteer efforts that have ensured the levels of destruction to keep minimum.
  • Similarly, Andhra Pradesh demonstrated an equally excellent evacuation strategy for millions during cyclone Hudhud in 2014.
  • There has been a significant reduction in mortality rate from the loss of over 10000 lives in 1999 during Super Cyclone in Odisha to a mortality of 16 in 2019 during cyclone Fani.
  • NDMA runs intensive earthquake and extreme weather events awareness campaigns and provides guidelines regarding natural and man-made disasters.
  • NDMA has released Guidelines on School Safety, Hospital Safety and Minimum Standards for Shelter, Food, Water, Sanitation and Medical Cover in Relief Camps. The Authority worked closely with the States in mitigating the impact of the Heat Wave and the number of casualties came down drastically.
  • NDMA conducts mock exercises for better crisis management during a disaster situation.


Shortcomings and challenges
  • There are significant gaps in preparedness on various aspects of risk management, particularly for catastrophic disasters like major earthquakes and floods.
  • Though all of India’s states have departments of disaster management or relief and rehabilitation, they are still poorly prepared to lend support in times of disasters, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
  • In a number of recent disasters, 2010 mudslides in Leh, the Sikkim earthquake in 2011 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013, the level of preparedness were inadequate, leading to high levels of mortality and displacement of people.
  • Facilities such as emergency operations centres, emergency communications, and search and rescue teams are being made available but these systems and facilities need to be strengthened.
  • In India, Disaster management is yet to be seen as an essential part of good governance and integral to development planning.
  • The preparedness at various levels is not people-oriented.
  • India’s capacity to manage disaster risk is challenged by its size and huge population. The country is likely to have the greatest exposure of any nation in the world to extreme weather and natural disasters by 2030.
  • The northeast region is most at risk from earthquakes and lacks seismically secure infrastructure and buildings. It is also vulnerable to landslides, floods, and erosion.
  • Flooding on the country’s plains is a regular occurrence, and although communities are resilient, the intensity of floods has reduced their capacity to adapt.
  • The local adaptation efforts driven solely by communities are no longer sufficient and additional, scientifically planned adaptation is needed, which will require government support.
  • The division of responsibilities under the Disaster Management Act is not very clear, resulting in its poor implementation. There also exists an overlap between the implementing agencies
  • Intense public and media scrutiny after disasters automatically leads to a higher priority being given to respond, rather than risk reduction.
  • Furthermore, where risk-reduction activities are described, State Disaster Management Plans (SDMPs) do not institutionalize accountability mechanisms to ensure that departments follow these considerations in their own planning.
  • As a result, risk-reduction activities are driven by schemes and external projects, rather than by guidelines in SDMPs.
  • Because risk-reduction needs are locations specific, this gap is an opportunity for stronger, locally-led risk-reduction planning by Strengthening disaster risk management in India


  • A clearer demarcation of national and state-level responsibilities is needed, especially regarding who is responsible for risk-reduction activities.
  • It is vital for state disaster management authorities to focus on the continued capacity-building of district disaster management authorities and CSOs that are responsible for managing disaster risk.
  • Capacity-building should support the planning and implementation of actions across the full disaster management cycle.
  • There is a need to revise the SDMPs to include a much greater emphasis on risk reduction, rather than just preparedness and response.
  • Existing rules and regulations that impede the inclusion of measures for risk reduction need to be amended.
  • Build partnerships with and draw lessons from forerunner states such as Bihar and Gujarat on how to include risk reduction in plans more effectively.
  • Accountability mechanisms need to be specified. This will ensure that departments follow disaster risk-reduction considerations in their own development planning.
  • There is an urgent need to put the National Disaster Mitigation Fund and state disaster management funds into operation. States such as Bihar, which are leading in this regard, should share lessons on how to realize this at the state level.
  • States should have decision-making power regarding whether state disaster management authorities control funds for risk reduction, or whether these are distributed to government departments.
  • Public-private partnerships should be looked at more seriously as alternative modes of financing. Models such as the Surat Climate Change Trust, a collaboration between the private sector and the urban local body in Surat, Gujarat, should be studied and, if suitable, replicated.
  • Risk-transfer mechanisms and insurance should be scaled up to support risk reduction.
  • States should include downscaled climate projections into SDMPs, so that future and evolving risks can be taken into account.
  • Using data that are already being uploaded onto platforms such as the Open Government Data Platform can help to synthesize a clearer understanding of vulnerability.
  • There is a need to expand capacity-building activities on disaster management within departments so that they include all stages of the disaster cycle, rather than the current emphasis on emergency response.
  • It is important to ensure the participation of nodal officials from all key state government departments while revising SDMPs; working with technical institutions and NGOs to train nodal officials is also useful.
  • The needs of women and other marginalized groups must be considered across all types of disaster risk management activity, rather than only response and relief activities, as is currently the case.
  • Publicly available census data on sex, age and disability need to be included in vulnerability analyses.
  • Clearer guidelines need to be issued for the genuine participation of vulnerable communities in processes to develop district disaster management plans.
  • Officials from state disaster management authorities should be trained in gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming.
  • Collaboration with state and central scientific institutions would help state disaster management authorities to track changing risk and risk of losses through modelling, rather than only measuring disaster impacts.
  • The National Disaster Management Authority should prepare guidelines and/ or a framework to support subnational governments in aligning with the Sendai Framework.

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