Discuss the challenges arising due to the increased frequency of disasters in India. What are the various legal and institutional measures in place to deal with disaster management?


  • Introduce your answer by elaborating on the increasing frequency of disasters in India.
  • In the body, mention various challenges arising due to the increased frequency of disasters and elaborate on the legal and institutional measures in place to deal with disaster management.
  • Conclude your answer appropriately.

Model Answer:

India’s unique geo-climatic conditions and high socio-economic vulnerability to calamities are responsible for the increased frequency of natural disasters. According to a report by the Centre for Environment, India witnessed some form of natural disaster every day in the year 2022 during a time span of nine months. This includes disasters from heat and cold waves, cyclones and lightning to heavy rains, floods and landslides. The frequency of extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves is further projected to rise manifolds in India due to climate change.

Challenges arising due to the increased frequency of disasters in India can be seen as:

  • Economic challenges: Disasters lead to significant economic losses due to the devastation of properties, residential areas, and infrastructure. Due to rising temperatures and heavy rainfall, India may have to spend 2.8 per cent of its GDP. Therefore, natural disasters not only adversely affect human and physical capital but also pose a serious threat to India’s economic development.
  • Impact on the environment: Disasters have the potential to modify the natural environment, leading to habitat loss for numerous plant and animal species, and inducing ecological stress that may culminate in a loss of biodiversity. Geophysical changes caused by disasters can also lead to soil erosion and an increase in vector-borne diseases.
  • Challenges for the local population: Due to natural calamities, human life is badly affected. According to the World Bank’s assessment, climate change and resulting hazards affect people living at low levels more. It has a severe impact on almost half of India’s population.
  • Challenges for the agriculture sector: According to the estimates of the government of India, there is a loss of 4.3 and 4.1 per cent in the income of farmers during the Kharif and Rabi crop seasons due to extreme temperature changes. Hence, natural disasters also increase farmer distress and are responsible for farmer suicides to a great extent due to crop damage.
  • Increased displacement: The displacement burden on India due to extreme weather events and resulting hazards is on the rise. For e.g.: heavy floods and cyclones triggered around 2.5 million internal displacements in India in 2022.
  • Degradation and destruction of resources: Disasters lead to large-scale destruction of resources such as infrastructure, livestock, crops and property. After disasters, natural resources such as food and water also become scarce, leading to food and water scarcity.

Legal and Institutional measures in place to deal with disaster management include:

  • Disaster Management Act 2005: The Act provides an effective disaster management system for the whole of India, in case of natural and man-made disasters. It provides for the constitution of the following institutions at national, state and district levels:
    • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA): Major roles that the NDMA is expected to perform are: policy making, approving national Disaster Management plans, formulating guidelines to be followed by central ministries and state authorities, and stretching its helping hand to other countries affected by major disasters.
    • At the state and district levels, State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) are established.
    • National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM): It is a premier institute for training and capacity development programs for managing natural disasters in India, on a national as well as regional basis.
    • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): It has been formed to ensure specialised response at times of threatening disaster situations with the help of trained professionals, which includes medical staff, engineers, technicians, dog squads, rescuers, etc.
  • At the national level, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal Ministry for all matters concerning disaster management. The Central Relief Commissioner (CRC) in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal officer to coordinate relief operations for natural disasters.
  • Crisis Management Group (CMG): The CMG’s functions are to review every year contingency plans formulated by various Ministries/Departments/Organizations in their respective sectors. It also looks after the measures required for dealing with natural disasters and coordinates the activities of the Central Ministries and the State Governments in relation to disaster preparedness and relief.  
  • National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC): Cabinet Secretary heads the NCMC. The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary.
  • Contingency Action Plan: A National Contingency Action Plan for dealing with contingencies arising in the wake of natural disasters has been formulated by the Government of India and it has been periodically updated. It facilitates the launching of relief operations without delay.