Congratulations, it is an eye opener to other states that are thinking of such schemes.
In Hyderabad, the government...
Thanks. You have raised a very pertinent issue. My family is a great lover of Makhana and we use it in different ways. Slowly...
The Disaster Management Bill has been introduced in the Parliament. The bill's preamble notes that, "The government has decided to enact a law on disaster management to provide for requisite institutional mechanisms for ... undertaking... prompt response to any disaster". The preamble gives an impression that the country has no established method to tackle disasters.
But nothing could be far from the truth. Most regions of the country do have elaborate systems to tackle calamities. For example, there are district-level plans for disaster-prone areas. Moreover, most disaster-mitigation efforts of the past have been coordinated efforts that involved the Union cabinet secretary, state chief secretaries and district magistrates.
This is not to extol the merits of past efforts. Indeed, these efforts rarely accorded importance to the long-term rehabilitation of the disaster-affected. The government departments were only concerned with immediate relief. The proposed legislation could change this state-of-affairs. It aims to make parliament and state legislatures active participants in disaster management and mitigation. This could ensure that resources pooled in by different government and non-government agencies are used in long-term rehabilitation.
And that is not all. There is no provision to link the state disaster management committees with a national authority. The bill does state that chief secretaries would head disaster management committees in their states. But there is no mention of a similar head at the national level. The proposed legislation merely mentions that the Union home ministry will service the national disaster authority. Pray how? The bill would have done well to state that the cabinet secretary or an officer of equal seniority would be the chief executive officer of the national disaster mitigation authority.
The bill abounds with the use of words such as 'may' and 'might'. This leads one to doubt the seriousness of the new ideas introduced in it. And with little civil society participation, the bill has virtually ensured that there is no social audit of the disaster-alleviation efforts.
The bill provides for lots of funds to alleviate disasters at the national, state and district levels. This is heartening, particularly because paucity of funds has often hindered rehabilitation work after disasters. But the bill makes no mention of how the new finances would be linked to the chief minister's and the Prime Minister's relief funds or the Calamity Relief Fund. And then, what about the funds collected by all and sundry after a calamity? Newspapers, television channels, temples, churches and many other institutions go into a fund-collecting overdrive after every tragedy. But what happens to the money they collect? Is their utilisation monitored? This author strongly feels that the proposed legislation should have some measures to regulate such initiatives.
A national disaster mitigation act should have a method to quantify the help accorded by the community. Bringing the community into the ambit of the act would ensure greater participation in disaster alleviation. It would also help in drawing up an accurate assessment of needs.
The author is a retired IAS officer and chief coordinator, Emergency Food Security, Network Ahmedabad. Gujarat. The views expressed are his alone