National Disaster Management Authority
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National Disaster Management Authority – Indian Polity Notes

Disaster Management Preparedness emerged as national priority after Gujrat Earthquake, National Committee was appointed in 2001 to make recommendations on this issue. But legislation on this took definitive turn post Indian Ocean Tsunami and it’s aftermath. Recognising the immediate need to have a national plan on such disasters, The Disaster Management Act 2005 was passed by Parliament.

This act provides for three levels of disaster management authorities: National, State and District.

National Disaster Management Authority was envisaged to be apex authority to spearhead, coordinate and implement integrated approach of disaster management in India. It is apex body for disaster management works under Ministry of Home Affairs.

Institutional Framework:

Under section 3 of The Disaster Management Act 2005, the NDMA is comprised of:

  • A Chairman and other members not exceeding 9.
  • The Prime Minister is ex-officio chairman of the NDMA.
  • Other members are nominated by the Chairman.
  • Among the members, one member is designated as Vice Chairman by the Chairman.

Functions and Responsibilities:

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has responsibility of laying down policies, plans for ensuring timely and effective response to disaster.

  1. Making the policies on disaster management,
  2. Approving the National Plan,
  3. Approving plans by other ministries and departments,
  4. Laying down guidelines for State Authority, ministries and departments, 
  5. Coordinating enforcement and implementation of a plan for disaster management,
  6. To recommend funds for mitigation,
  7. To provide support to other countries affected by such disasters,
  8. To take other measures for prevention, mitigation, preparedness and capacity building for dealing with such disasters,
  9. Making guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

State Disaster Management Authority:


Section 14 of the Act authorises the establishment of the State Disaster Management Authority. It will consist of the members as follows-

  • The Chief Minister of the State or the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territories as an ex-officio Chairperson of the State Authority,
  • Other members not exceeding eight to be nominated by the Chairperson of the State Authority,
  • One of these nominated members to be designated as Vice-Chairperson of the State Authority,
  • The Chairperson of the State Executive Committee is the Chief Executive Officer of the State Authority. 


Section 18 of the Act specifies the powers and functions of the State Disaster Management Authority like –

  • Laying down the state policy on disaster management,
  • Approving the state plan, and plans by other departments, 
  • Laying down guidelines for different departments of state,
  • Monitoring the implementation of the state plan for disaster management,
  • Recommending funds for mitigation measures,
  • Reviewing the developmental plans of different departments of the state,
  • Review the measures taken for mitigation, capacity building and preparedness by the departments of the state and issue necessary guidelines. 

District Disaster Management Authority:

Section 25 of the Act authorises the establishment of the District Disaster Management Authority. 

It shall consist of the following members-

  • The Collector or District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner of the district as an ex-officio Chairperson of the District Authority,
  • The elected representative of the local authority as the Co-Chairperson,
  • The Chief Executive Officer of the District Authority,
  • The Superintendent of Police,
  • The Chief Medical Officer of the district,
  • Not exceeding two other district-level officers, to be appointed by the state government.  
  • In the case of tribal areas, as referred to in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the Co-Chairperson will be the Chief Executive Member of the district council of an autonomous district. 

Functions of District Disaster Management Authority:

Under Section 30 of the Act, the powers and functions of the District Authority were laid down. Some of them are-

  • Preparing a disaster management plan for the district,
  • Monitoring the implementation of plans and policies,
  • Identifying the areas vulnerable to disasters,
  • Giving directions to district authorities and laying down the guidelines,
  • Assessing the state of capabilities for responding to any disaster and the preparedness measures,
  • Examining the construction in the district to check the standards for the prevention of disaster, and if have not been followed, directing the authorities to take action,
  • Identifying buildings or places which can be used as relief centres or camps at the time of the disaster,
  • Establishing stockpiles of relief and rescue materials and ensuring preparedness,
  • Organising specialised training programmes for officers or voluntary rescue workers,
  • Facilitating community training and awareness programmes, etc. 

India’s Efforts in Disaster Management:

  • National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF): Establishment of NDRF has which has been at forefoot at rescuing people in such disasters has been biggest achievement. The NDRF in its various operations has saved more than 1.3 Lakh human lives.
  • International Rescue Operation: India has sent battalions of NDRF not only to domestic locations but to other countries too. During Nepal Earthquake 2015, NDRF was first to respond, India had sent battalions of NDRF to rescue civilians. 
  • India under its Foreign Policy has donated significant money as aid to countries in our neighbourhood to deal with Disasters.
  • India has shown preparedness to adopt to climate change, which also brings the changed form of Disaster. India has been at forefront of gathering global consensus on this issues.

Issues and Challenges:

  1. Scare Resources: The NDMA lacks the resources which would be helpful in disaster situation like equipments, use of emerging technologies in disaster management etc.
  2. Overlapping of Functions: Though the Disaster Management Act 2005 created three levels of authorities for better coordination but due to overlapping of functions, they face difficulties in coordination.
  3. Act doesn’t notify disaster prone zone in adequate time so as to make for arrangements for probable disasters.
  4. Act provides District Response Fund and District Mitigation Fund which has not been operationalised in majority of Districts.
  5. There are several instances wherein due to various reasons the act is not implemented in letter and spirit.

Way Forward:

The Disaster Management Act 2005 needs to be amended to make changes as per changing times. It shall also incorporate the best practices on disaster prone countries like Japan etc.

Redundancy in the functions of three level authorities need be addressed. A mechanism shall be put in place which will ensures that all agencies work in synchronisation when disaster occurs to minimize human lives lost and damages to property.


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