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Disaster Management Act

Topics Covered: Disaster and disaster management.

Disaster Management Act

What to study?

For Prelims: Key provisions, powers given to the centre and states under the act.

For Mains: Significance and relevance of these measures, need for and implications.

Context: In the 68 days since the nationwide lockdown was imposed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Home Ministry on an average, issued 1.3 orders a day.

The orders were issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, invoked for the first time in the country since the legislation was drafted after the tsunami in 2004.

Relevance of DM Act in this pandemic:

COVID-19 is the first pan India biological disaster being handled by the legal and constitutional institutions of the country.

The current lockdown has been imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act).

Under the Act, the States and district authorities can frame their own rules on the basis of broad guidelines issued by the Ministry.

  • The legal basis of the DM Act, is Entry 23, Concurrent List of the Constitution “Social security and social insurance”.
  • Entry 29, Concurrent List “Prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting men, animals or plants,” can also be used for specific law making.

 A notified disaster:

Central government has included the Covid-19 outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”.

About the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

The stated object and purpose of the DM Act is to manage disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.

It came into force in India in January 2006.

The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.

The Act enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC) to assist the National Authority.

All State Governments are mandated to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).

Powers given to the Centre:

  • Power bestowed by DM Act on Central Government and NDMA are extensive.
  • The Central Government, irrespective of any law in force (including over-riding powers) can issue any directions to any authority anywhere in India to facilitate or assist in the disaster management.
  • Importantly, any such directions issued by Central Government and NDMA must necessarily be followed the Union Ministries, State Governments and State Disaster Management Authorities.
  • In order to achieve all these, the prime minister can exercise all powers of NDMA (S 6(3)). This ensures that there is adequate political and constitutional heft behind the decisions made.



Prelims Link:

  1. What is DM Act?
  2. Bodies established under this act.
  3. Composition of NDMA.
  4. Powers of states and centre under DM act.
  5. What is a notified disaster?
  6. Functions of NDRF.

Mains Link:

Is the Disaster Management Act, 2005, ill-suited to be the main economic law of the country? Analyse the need for a pandemic law in the current situation facing the world.

Sources: the Hindu.