Environment & Biodiversity

How State Assistance Works During Natural Disasters

  • Following natural catastrophes, states frequently seek aid from the federal government.
  • Himachal Pradesh’s chief minister recently requested a special disaster aid package and recommended that the incident be declared a ‘national disaster.’

Mitigation of Natural Disasters in States

  • Legal foundation: The Disaster Management Act of 2005 establishes the legal foundation for dealing with natural and man-made disasters.
  • It defines a “disaster” as an incident that causes significant loss of life, human suffering, property damage, or environmental degradation that exceeds the community’s coping capacity.
  • The Act established the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which is chaired by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs), which are led by Chief Ministers. In India, these bodies, together with district-level administrations, comprise an integrated disaster management framework.
  • The Act resulted in the formation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which consists of multiple battalions or teams responsible for on-the-ground relief and rescue operations in several states.

The National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF): An Overview

  • Mentioned in Act: The NDRF is mentioned in the Disaster Management Act of 2005 and plays an important role in disaster relief.
  • SDRFs (State Disaster Relief Funds): States have their own SDRFs, which are the principal money available for disaster response. The Central Government gives 75% to general states and 90% to northeastern and Himalayan states to SDRFs.
  • SDRFs are used for emergency relief operations following registered calamities such as cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, fires, floods, and tsunamis, among others.
  • Central help: In the event of a major disaster where state SDRF funds are insufficient, the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) can give additional central help.

Who decides what constitutes a Severe Calamity?

  • System: Each state has its own system for classifying a tragedy as “severe.” This entails filing a memorandum outlining sector-specific damage and funding requirements. On-site, an inter-ministerial central team examines the damage.
  • Committee Approval: These assessments are reviewed and reported on by certain committees. The NDRF’s emergency relief sum must be approved by a High-Level Committee.
  • Criteria: The designation of a tragedy as “severe” takes into account variables such as intensity, scale, and aid requirements, among others.

Additional Funds for Disaster Mitigation

  • Fund Allocation: Funds for NDRF and SDRFs are budgetary allocations for preparedness, mitigation, and reconstruction.
  • The 15th Finance Commission introduced a new methodology for state-wise allocations that takes into account factors such as historical expenditure, risk exposure, hazard, and vulnerability.
  • Utilisation: NDRF and SDRF funding are normally released in two equal installments, with requirements such as Utilisation Certificates. However, in an emergency, these rules can be relaxed.
  • State Disaster Mitigation money (SDMF): This money helps with things like forest restoration and public awareness. It received a Rs 32,030 crore grant from the 15th Finance Commission.
  • The National catastrophe Mitigation Fund (NDMF) is a Rs 13,693 crore fund dedicated to national catastrophe mitigation measures.
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