Powers And Functions Of Various Authorities Under Disaster Management Act, 2005
The Author is Aparajita Jha, a penultimate year student of National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.
What is a disaster?
A disaster as per dictionary meaning is a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life and property.
As per Section 2(d), the given meaning of disaster under the Disaster Management Act states that it is a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes leading to substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to and destruction of property or degradation of environment…”
What is disaster management?
Disaster management is said to be a way by which humans try and put in efforts to control or at least reduce the harm of disasters caused, either man-made or natural. The meaning of disaster management is given under Section 2(e) of the Act.
Need and Purpose of Disaster Management
The important purpose of having disaster management is to deal with disasters and prepare for strategies to mitigate such happenings.
Various Authorities under the Disaster Management Act, 2005
The Disaster Management Act, 2005 came into force on 23rd December 2005. It was enacted with the main purpose of having an effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Under the Act, various authorities are vested with the powers and functions to fulfill the said objective and purpose of the act. The various authorities are divided into three levels, i.e., the National level, the State level, and the District level. These various authorities are:
- The National Disaster Management Authority
- The State Disaster Management Authorities
- District Disaster Management Authority
Powers and Functions of the National Disaster Management Authority
The powers and functions given to the National Disaster Management Authority are prescribed under Section 6 of the Act. The Section states that the National Authority has the responsibility for laying down plans and policies as well as guidelines that can help in dealing with the disasters timely and effectively.
Also, further emphasis has been given on the powers of the National Authority in terms of laying down policies for disaster management, approve national plan or plans prepared by ministries or government departments in accordance with such national plan, laying down guidelines for the state authorities to follow, coordinate the enforcement of policy or plan, recommend for provisions of funds to deal with the disaster, provide support to other countries affected by major disasters, take actions to prevent, mitigate or prepare for a disaster as it deems necessary and take any such other measures that it deems fit and necessary for disaster management.
Moreover, along with the above-given powers and functions, it has been specified that the Chairperson of the National Authority has the power to exercise all or any powers given to the National Authority, in case he/she feels there is an emergency and a dire need of such instantaneous action on his/her part. But this power of the Chairperson is subject to ex post facto ratification by the National Authority.
Powers and Functions of the State Disaster Management Authorities
Every state is supposed to have its own disaster management authority established according to the prescribed law. The powers and functions given to the State Disaster Management Authorities are prescribed under Section 18 of the Act.
The powers and functions of the State Disaster Management Authorities are more or less similar to that of the National Disaster Management Authority. As per the provision, the State Authority has the responsibility of laying down both policies and plans for the preparedness and mitigation of disasters.
Along with this main power, the State Authority has the responsibility of laying down disaster management policies for the state. Also, the State Authority is required to approve a State Plan which would be in accordance with the National Authority guidelines and approve such other plans for disaster management as prepared by various departments of the state government for the state. It can also lay down guidelines that different departments of the state government need to follow for the main purpose of the integration of measures for the prevention of disasters and mitigation in their development plans and also provide for required technical assistance if need be. State Authority also has the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of the State Plan and recommend provisions of funds for mitigation and preparedness measures. In addition to all these powers and functions, the State Authority has to review the development plans of different departments of the state government and ensure that proper and effective preventive and mitigation measures are integrated therein. And also, review the measures being taken for mitigation, capacity building and preparedness by the departments of the state government and issue any such guidelines that are required.
Just like the National Authority, the State Disaster Management Authority also has a specific power for the cases of emergency situations. This power is that the Chairperson of the State Authority in case he/she feels there is an urgent situation and need, has the power to exercise any of the given powers and responsibilities of the State Authority or all of them subject to an ex post facto ratification of the State Authority.
Powers and Functions of the District Disaster Management Authority
Section 30 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 prescribes the powers, functions and responsibilities of the District Disaster Management Authorities. The main function of the District Authority according to the provision is to act as a district planning, coordinating and implementing body for the disaster management and it is required to take all such measures for the purpose of handling such disaster in the district as per the guidelines laid down by the National and State Authority.
Along with this function, the District Authority has the power and function of preparing a disaster management plan which includes a district response plan as well, coordinating and keeping a check on the National Policy, State Policy, National Plan and State Plan. The District Authority also has the responsibility to ensure that the vulnerable areas of the district are identifies and measures for prevention and mitigation in such areas are taken effectively. Also, it has to ensure that the guidelines for prevention of disasters, mitigation of its effects, preparedness and response measures as given by the National and State Authority are followed by all the departments. The District Authority can also give directions to different authorities at local levels to undertake such measures for the prevention and mitigation of disasters as necessary. It can also lay down guidelines for prevention of disaster management plans by the government at district levels. With these primary responsibilities and powers, the District Authority also have the powers of review, monitor, organize and coordinate district level programs for awareness and management purposes. Also, the District Authority has to provide information to the State Authority related to different aspects of the Disaster Management process. Moreover, the District Authority is obliged to perform such any other function as the State government or State Authority may assign to it or it deems necessary and required for the disaster management in the District. The District Authority in consonance to these powers and functions have several other secondary responsibilities to fulfil in times of a disaster which are also given under Section 30 of the Act.
Disclaimer – The views expressed and information given in this article are solely of the author and do not represent in any way the views of or impose any liability on The Philomath, its employees or any other person or entity. We endeavor to maintain a quality check of the published articles but are in no way guaranteeing the accuracy of any information. Any legal opinion shared herein should not be used as an alternative to professional legal advice.