India’s Fight Against Health Emergencies – Disaster Management Act, 2005

Our present reality is centred around a global pandemic, one which has no cure yet. World Health Organization pronounced a Public Health Emergency of Intentional Concern on 31st January, 2020 and on 11th March, 2020 announced it a worldwide Pandemic.  The world reacted to this pandemic with procedures, reaction plans and disaster management policies most appropriate to each province. India is fighting against the Corona Virus with the two ballista which are significant and reasonable apparatuses in specific Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005 is an act which helps take precaution and gives direction in order how to fight a deadly epidemic like COVID-19. The Disaster Management Act 2005 is the most intellectual brain child of the government of India, amendment made by Shri Feroze Varun Gandhi M.P in 2015 is helping us fight back the wide spread of COVID-19. Under Sec.10 of the act, it is exclusively mentioned that all the governmental levels should be prepared for any disaster for the purpose of responding to any threatening occurrence. It also mentions intact guidelines to various departments of the government to follow in time of distress[1].

There are various strategies and national plans executed during such period. All these plans and strategies are created by National Executive Committee (NEC), and are approved by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and put in work by the NDMA. The NEC is the authoritative body which monitors and implements the plan. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India pronounced a wide lockdown to contain the spread of Corona Virus on 11th March, 2020. This is the first occasion when that the arrangements of National Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA) were conjured[2].

Wide running forces have been agreed to the functionaries under the DMA, including confining or controlling traffic, individuals’ development, making accessible vital assets, requiring specialists and experts in the field of catastrophes to give exhortation and help to protect and alleviation, procuring exclusive or particular utilization of luxuries, arrangement of military powers, planning with different nations and universal associations, and so forth. The Home Secretary as Chairperson of the National Executive Committee of and the Prime Minister is the head of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) who gave guidelines for the National lockdown for 21 days. The principle aspect of the uniform lockdown was ‘Social Distancing’ through the summon of Sec.144 of IPC which expresses that a get-together of at least four individuals is denied in the concerned territory. Whenever discovered then the people could be charged for revolt, In chapter X[3] of the Disaster Management Act. There is also provision under sec. 53 for those who do not use the government fund as per the guidelines[4].

The goal and reason for DMA is to oversee disaster, including readiness of alleviation systems. The sky is the limit from there to make our country prepared for any such disaster. It made the institutional and coordination instrument for compelling disaster the board, at the National, State, District, and local level. This made NDMA just as SDMA (State Disaster Management Authorities). It has four phases, to be specific: avoidance, readiness, reaction and recuperation. We have seen these four perspectives being brought out through curfews, lock down, testing the readiness of clinics, isolation of officers and clinical guide for recuperation. It has been a mammoth endeavour requiring coordination and prompt action between the Centre, States, NGO, people, and residents on the loose. We have accomplished a great deal however we still have long way to go.

In the Federal set up of India, the primary responsibility of disaster management is vested within the State Government because the plan laid down by the Central Government has to be implemented and modified according to the conditions of the particular state. For example all over India, Maharashtra had the most cases of COVID-19, therefore the Chief Minister of Maharashtra had to take some more serious steps to control the situation.

National Institution of Disaster Management (NIDM) is an institution which has the mandate of human resources development and capacity building for disaster management within the broad policies and guidelines laid down by the NDMA. We all know that India is in a better position on a global level and the government is able to control the situation today. This is only because of the NIDM as the institution has built a very strong infrastructure to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.

As we all known that implementing the lockdown is a very crucial part of the management for the world wide spread epidemic, the Government was blamed for inappropriate implementation of the lockdown. It was abrupt, in spite of information on a similar route back in February. It caused incredible problems to numerous individuals and the most influenced were the transient workers and their battle goes on. Demise identified with the equivalent have additionally been accounted for which were because of long strolls, hunger, thirst. Endeavours were made to get Indians from remote nations, yet poor people workers were left with no assistance at that point and had to battle for themselves.

The predicament of these poor workers is pitiable. Legitimate arranging and execution could have helped in maintaining their pride and giving them appropriate and safe offices to get back home. In any case, the Nationwide lockdown is seen by the Opposition and numerous others as a subjective demonstration of an Executive without contribution of the Parliament.

One could see absence of coordination and on occasion a situation even turned savage during this period, despite the fact that proper coordination has been maintained. Maharashtra pronounced lockdown augmentation till 30th April and the Centre till 3rd May. Despite no limitations on individuals going out to exercise or purchase fundamentals, numerous older people were captured, badgered, ruthlessly beaten, and some even surrendered to death due to no empathy.

Many imprudent residents also disrupted the norms and interfered with the police work force who were offering enormous support to the Nation without paying any heed to the very purpose of the lockdown. Beating and badgering of clinical staff, specialists and medical attendants was barbaric. Due to the absence of PPE, sick social insurance laborers, underfunded service providers and a crashing economy have added to the burdens of residents. The DMA accommodates corrective measures: Sec. 51 to 60 sets down punishments for explicit offenses. Anybody discovered impeding any official or worker from playing out their obligation will be detained for a term which may stretch out to one year or fined, or both. On the off chance that such a demonstration of hindrance prompts loss of lives or inescapable threat, at that point the individual can be imprisoned for as long as two years. Be that as it may, it isn’t the arrangement. Proper planning and timely execution could have helped abate the circumstance to some extent. (is he saying we should’ve executed people?)

The Central Government is blamed for passing an Order of Lockdown under DMA and by doing so has violated the State Government’s authority as Law and Order and Public Health are State Subjects. As a matter of first importance on 14th March, the Home Ministry pronounced the Corona Virus episode as ‘widespread epidemic’ ‘basic ailment or pandemic circumstance’ along these lines bringing into play the arrangements of the Disaster Management Act. Thusly u/s 35 of DMA the Central Government is offered forces to take measures “(1) Subject to the arrangements of this Act, the Central Government will accept every such measure as it regards fundamental or practical with the end goal of calamity the board” and Sec. 38 of DMA throws an obligation on the states to follow the bearings of NDMA. The DMA engages the Central Government for setting up a National Disaster Management Authority under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of India and not in excess of 9 individuals designated by him.

Another issue that grabbed the eye of many is the formation of a Prime ministers Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund on 28th March 2020 after which there is a comparative store called PM national Relief Fund (PMNRF). Despite the fact that this may have been done with good motivations to help lighten the wretchedness of poor people and their upliftment, it most likely causes a commotion and can be a fantastic door to more tricks. Yet, without questioning the well-meaning goals and shrewdness of the pioneers we just would like to see it being utilized with most extreme consideration for the reason for which it was set up. Talking about help measures, it is in reality wretched to see that guide has not arrived to each family unit. The ones who endure the most are poor people and the helpless daily breadwinners.

Indeed, despite the fact that many have gotten pitiful measures of rice, wheat, sugar and dal (which isn’t adequate) many have been forgotten about because of no Ration Card, and so on. However, one can’t get by on this by itself. Certain measures of money are required for milk for youngsters, tea, masala, gas, vegetables, beats, and so forth. In reality the incontinence caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has indicated the darker side of mankind and ineptness for a calamity of such nature. The designation of assets as imagined by the DMA u/s 35(c) is by all accounts deficient and not appropriately overseen. Despite the fact that numerous philanthropists have figured out how to take care of the hungry, the residents admire the Government to deal with them as everyone deserves the privilege to live with nobility, Right to Nourishment and Right to Life as cherished under Article 21 of the Constitution

Different issues that the Government needs to deal with which are of most extreme significance for better wellbeing of the people. The SC ordered complementary testing as the sum for testing was about Rs. 4500/ -. In what capacity can a needy individual who is living hand to mouth in critical conditions have the option to get tested? There is a requirement for equivalent access to medicinal services. We have seen that without legitimate testing, the lockdown doesn’t fill the need completely. Besides, more emergency clinics and clinical offices are required with the goal that people can be dealt with. House to house help given to the poor by method for nourishment and cash. Another basic issue is that numerous laborers are not given their due wages and many have lost their positions as the businesses have stopped their administration.

The Disaster Management Act 2005 has been a great help in the battle against the COVID-19, but as we all known that to improve is to change and so we need to update the act and make amendments for health emergency which will effectively help us fight out such viruses. The amendments which will be made should be effective in managing such situations and make positive government intervention possible. Law and order is the only weapon we have to fight such situations.


[1] The Disaster Management Act, 2005, No. 53 of 2005

[2] http://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32191675/

[3] The Disaster Management Act, 2005,No. 53 of 2005

[4] Bill No. LV of 2005 introduced in the Rajya Sabha

Harsh Mangesh Upadhyay from The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda

You can find him here

EDITOR: VATSALA SOOD

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