Interview with Lt Gen N C Marwah, Member, National Disaster Management Authority ,

Lt Gen N C Marwah, Member, National Disaster Management Authority shares with Kriti Rai his views about the role of NDMA in bringing about awareness and ensuring preparedness to handle any calamity.

How effective is India’s disaster management authority ?

Right from its inception in 2005, NDMA has evolved as per its vision and charter to make India disaster resilient. Various mitigation measures and guidelines for their implementation have been laid down by NDMA for betterment of people. On similar lines as NDMA, at State level also there is State Disaster Management Authority which plays a key role in creating awareness and ensuring preparedness to handle any calamity. A large number of Mock Exercises are planned based on request from States and accordingly an annual calendar is prepared. These exercises are conducted considering vulnerability like Seismic Zone IV and V for earthquake, cyclones etc. About 166 exercises have been undertaken in last 4 to 5 years pertaining to earthquake alone. States and District Disaster Management Authorities, Civil Defence, Fire Services, Home Guard, NGOs and NDRF participate in such exercises.

2. During Uttarakhand floods, the armed forces have worked tirelessly to help flood victims, but why was the NDMA’s role so unsatisfactory?

Indeed armed forces were involved in large number by virtue of their deployment, purely in terms of numbers, the size of NDRF involvement cannot be compared. However, the role of NDMA was significant. One of NDMA Members with a team of officers were based at Dehradun and alongwith State Government were deeply involved in evacuation of people, distribution of relief material etc.

3. What was NDMA’s role in Nepal earthquake ?

NDMA’s role in mobilizing NDRF in short time i.e. within 2 hours of disasters striking Nepa our Teams had reached Hindon IAF Base. As a result, within 4 hours an aircraft loaded with relief material was air-borne. NDMA was responsible for coordinating with various agencies, ministries for despatch of relief material, which was a herculean task. A new Helpline 4 digit number 1078 was installed with 15 lines in our control room where people called from all over India and abroad and these calls were recorded and information conveyed to concerned departments. Since our States (Bihar, U.P, West Bengal and Sikkim) were also affected so NDRF responded to requirements of States.

4. What is disaster management mechanism if Delhi turns out to be epicentre of Earthquake ? Why Delhi still lacks a disaster response fund ? What about of standards of buildings ?

As per media reports, at State and district levels Delhi Government has started review of their Disaster Management Plans. Focus on capacity building measures to evaluate risk vulnerability of buildings are steps in the right direction. After Nepal earthquake, people are more aware and government is also undertaking various measures to mitigate effect of such disasters in close association with NDMA.

5. What other action NDMA is planning in future ? Why not awareness programmes organized at colleges and schools ?

NDMA has been working hard to undertake awareness programme focussing on schools, hospitals and its extension in remote areas too. Since Civil Defence personnel have wider reach of mass, conduct of such programme by them is helpful. Right now we are proposing to train instructors who train NCC boys and girls. In this regard, a large number of NGOs are also working in close cooperation with us.