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HPC on disaster management plans

Background, Approaches, Strategies and Prospects

Why a High Powered Committee?
India is one of the most disaster prone countries, vulnerable to almost all natural and man made disasters. About 85% area is vulnerable to one or multiple disasters and about 57% area is in high seismic zone including the capital of the country. There is an enormous loss of life and property every year by these calamities. UN declared 1999-2000 as IDNDR – and the focus of decade was that all countries should have their disaster management plan at national, state and district level.India also has a Contingency Action Plan at a national level. We have disaster relief manuals at state level and disaster plans at district level but these plans are not updated and mainly focus only on relief and now the Government’s focus is on preparedness and mitigation.

The High Powered Committee (HPC) was constituted in August 1999 under the chairmanship of J.C.Pant. The mandate of the HPC is to prepare comprehensive model plans for disaster management at the national, state and district levels. This is the first attempt in India towards a systematic comprehensive and holistic look at all disasters.

Terms of reference of HPC are:

  • Review of existing arrangements for preparedness and mitigation of natural and manmade disasters.
  • Recommendations for strengthening existing organizational structures.
  • Preparation of model disaster management plans at the national, state and district levels.

Important aspects for consideration of HPC are:

  • Measures for efficient forecasting and warning.
  • Existing system of response mechanism in the wake of natural and man-made disasters at all levels of government and steps to minimize the response time through effective communication and measures to ensure adequacy of relief operations.
  • Development programs related to mitigation of disaster management in different areas and priorities and strategies for inclusion of disaster reduction components in the on-going plan/non-plan schemes.
  • Measures for intensive training for building human resources to improve awareness and capabilities.
  • Public awareness programs to build up society’s resilience to disasters.
  • Pro-active measures for disaster preparedness and mitigation – administrative, financial, legislative and techno-legal.
  • Measures and programs to harness the state – of art IT for effective communication network.
  • Networking mechanism by government/non government organization
  • Updating of codes, manuals, disaster management plans, items of relief, norms of assistance of State Governments.
  • Examining house -building practices/codes and mechanisms for hazard zonation surveys.
  • Structural measures for disaster mitigation and preparedness – improving design of check dam’s rising, relocation of flood-prone villages, renovation/de-silting of ponds, improved emergency draining systems.
  • Any other matters incidental or related to natural and man-made disasters.

Planning components – subgroups set up by HPC

  • Efforts towards integration of concerned agencies departments/Ministers, NGOs, professional institutions like IIT’s, IIM’s,CSIR Labs, and educational institutions like NCERT, COBSE,NOS,AIU
  • Subgroups:
    1. Water and climate related hazards
    2. Geological hazards
    3. Chemical/Industrial/nuclear disasters
    4. Accident related disasters
    5. Biological disasters

Planning process

  • The trigger mechanism has been conceptualized as an ’emergency quick response mechanism’ which sets into motion the required prevention and mitigation measures without any loss of time with the primary objective of reducing to the extent possible, the human misery and loss of resources.


Concept of trigger mechanism

  • A committee has been set up to discuss the concept of trigger mechanism under the chairmanship of Director General, Civil Defense.
  • The committee will consider the trigger mechanism in preparedness and mitigation for disasters.

Networking of knowledge based organizations

  • A workshop was organized at DMI Bhopal from 14-15 July 2000, in which various scientific and other technical institutions (50) participated. They discussed the effective way of networking of this base and integrate scientific knowledge with traditional wisdom and use it in the disaster management.

Mapping mission

  • A committee has been constituted on mapping mission under chairmanship of Ramesh Chandra, exchairman CWC, to deliberate on mapping of vulnerabl;e zones for different types of disasters.
  • Microzonation of multiple hazard zones in the country.

PSU participation

  • A workshop of PSUs was organized at NCDM, IIPA, New Delhi from July 26-28, 2000 to identify their role in disaster management and to discuss trigger mechnism.
  • PSUs have resources, which can be used in relief, rehabilitation, preparedness/HRD and mitigation.
  • More PSU workshop planned.

Thirty odd disasters are identified by HPC, which can be grouped into five categories
based on generic considerations.

  1. Water and climate
    • Floods
    • Cyclones
    • Tornadoes and hurricanes
    • Hailstorms
    • Cloudburst
    • Heat wave and cold wave
    • Snow avalanches
    • Droughts
    • Sea erosion
    • Thunder lightning
  2. Geological
    • Landslides and mudflows
    • Earthquakes
    • large fireDam failures and dam bursts
    • Mine fires
  3. Biological
    • Epidemics
    • Pest attacks
    • Cattle epidemics
    • Food poisoning
    • Chemical, industrial and nuclear

  4. Chemical, industrial and nuclear
    • Chemical and Industrial Nuclear
  5. Accidental
    • Forest fires
    • Urban fires
    • Mine flooding
    • Oil spill
    • Major building collapse
    • Serial bomb blasts
    • Festival related disasters

    • Electrical disasters and fires
    • Air,road,and rail accidents
    • Bomb capsizing
    • Village fire

NGO consultation

  • NGOs play a major role in disaster relief and rehabilitation.
  • Their role and responsibilities in disaster preparedness and mitigation should also be identified and documented in specific plans.
  • HPC is planning a nationwide network of NGOs for greater synergy.
  • National level NGO consultation held at IIPA on April 21-22,2000.
  • Four NGO meets planned in east, west, north, and south to cover NGOs of the country.
  • The first meet at Ahemedabad from August 18-19,2000 was attended by more than 75 participants.
  • The second meet at Shanti Kunj (August 24-26, 2000) had more than 50 participants. The third meet is being held at Kanyakumari followed by Narendrapur on September 20-22, 2000.
  • Two meetings are planned for Himalayan and North-Eastern regions.

Disaster management planning:
concerns of HPC

  • Four levels of plan preparation
  • Provision for immediate action following the declaration of level is imperative.
  • Creation and management of an intelligent integrated database, which should be updated for a focused, measured and fine-tuned information for quick and effective response in a disaster situation.
  • Knowledge-based learning process should be encouraged for better information:
    – Traditional and local knowledge
    – Advanced scientific information
  • The response mechanism of the Civil Defense set-up can be utilized for disaster response and mitigation.
  • Examination of the scope and possibilities of disaster insurance.
  • The effort of the HPC is not to develop a plan de novo but to ensure constant consolidation, upgradation, updating, and rehearsal.

Emerging action points of HPC

  • Model State Disaster Management Act
  • Draft of a National Disaster Management Act is to be drawn up with participation of LBSNAA and HPC.
  • Model district plan involving all states and districts to be prepared within six months.
  • Sub-groups at the state level for state disaster management plans.
  • Preparation of source book
  • Involvement of private sector: Involvement of FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII, Chambers of Commerce mooted.
  • International dimensions in disaster management plans:
    – Bilateral/mutual sharing of information
    – Cooperation
    – HRD

Focal Issues

  • Prevention and mitigation – direction towards reduction:
    – Preparedness – Response

Focal concerns

  • Equity
  • Quality of relief
  • Non-discrimination between recipients
  • Attention to vulnerable sections of society – geriatric age group, physically or otherwise challenged people, women and children etc.

The four levels of planning
Level 0: Developmental phase of monitoring and preparedness.
Level 1: Disasters that can be handled at the district level.
Level 2: Higher intensity disasters that have to be handled at the State Government level.
Level 3: Very severe disasters where intervention of the Center becomes imperative.