The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Disaster Management Authority to regularly publish its Annual Report, to review and update all plans, and to make its website multilingual, “so that all concerned may benefit”.
The Court was hearing two Petitions, one filed by Mr. Gaurav Kumar Bansal and the other by the Foundation for Restoration of National Values. The Petitions were filed in the aftermath of the Uttarakhand flood and landslide disaster that had occurred in 2013. These had contended that the adverse impact of the 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 Petitions had further alleged that many other States were not fully prepared to deal with a disaster, and therefore necessary directions ought to be given by the Court for proper implementation of the Act.
During the pendency of the Petitions, the Court noted that the State Governments were initially lax in filing their responses. Thereafter, in February, 2016, the Centre had sent a communication to the Chief Secretaries of all the States, requiring them to frame minimum standards of relief for victims of a disaster. Meanwhile, the Court had also directed the Chief Secretaries to formulate guidelines on minimum standards of relief for food, water, sanitation, medical cover to be provided to persons affected by a disaster, and also make special provisions for widows and orphans.
Subsequently, the Court was informed last month that the NDMA has constituted a National Advisory Committee under Section 7 of the Act, and a National Executive Committee under Section 8 of the Act. It was further apprised of the fact that a National Plan as well as the guidelines for minimum standards of relief have been placed on NDMA’s website.
Furthermore, the Court noted that a State Disaster Management Authority has been constituted in all the States and Union Territories. It was informed that all States, except Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have a State Disaster Management Plan in place.
Thereafter, on review of all steps taken by the NDMA, the Bench comprising Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta opined that there has been sufficient compliance with the provisions of the Act.
“All we need say is that it is absolutely necessary for the 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 Bench thereafter observed, and dismissed the Petitions.
Read the Judgment here.