National Disaster Management Authority should publish Annual Reports on Disaster Management Plans

Supreme Court: In the writ petition seeking implementation of Disaster Management Act, 2005 as many States were not fully prepared to deal with a disaster and therefore necessary directions ought to be given by this Court for proper implementation of the Act, the Court said that it is absolutely necessary for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) constituted at the national level and the State Disaster Management Authority at the State level to be ever vigilant and ensure that if any unfortunate disaster strikes there should be total preparedness and that minimum standards of relief are provided to all concerned.

The writ petition was filed after the unprecedented flood and landslide disaster that occurred in Uttarakhand in 2013 and it was alleged that the adverse impact of disaster could have been mitigated had there been effective implementation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and adequate preparedness by the State Government of Uttarakhand. The Court, hence, sought affidavits from Central and State Governments and after showing some laxity at first, the Union Government, on 25th February, 2016 sent a communication to the Chief Secretaries of all the States by the Joint Secretary (Policy and Plan) of the NDMA and asked them to frame minimum standards of relief for victims of disaster.

Regarding the obligation to establishment of an Advisory Committee, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said that Section 17 of the Act does not make it mandatory and it is really for the State Disaster Management Authority to constitute one or more Advisory Committee as and when it becomes necessary to do so on different aspects of disaster management.

The NDMA also submitted that all States except Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have prepared a State Disaster Management Plan which is very much in place and that the District Disaster Management Authority has been constituted in every district under Section 25 of the Act and out of 684 districts in the country, a District Disaster Management Plan is in place in 615 districts while it is under process in the remaining districts.

Considering the above submissions by the NDMA, the Court noticed that there has been sufficient compliance with the provisions of the Act, however, it would be advisable for the NDMA to regularly publish its Annual Report to review and update all plans on the basis of experiences and to make its website multilingual so that all concerned may benefit. [Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 550, decided on 08.05.2017]

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