ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Disaster Management : Beyond Financial Assistance

In the context of the Gujarat earthquake, the union finance minister observed in his budget speech that a natural calamity of this magnitude has “highlighted the need to set up permanent institutional arrangements for the management of national disasters”. Evidently recognition is dawning on the central government that it is not enough for it to be satisfied with providing additional finance assistance and support to a state when it is faced with a natural calamity.

In the context of the Gujarat earthquake, the union finance minister observed in his budget speech that a natural calamity of this magnitude has "highlighted the need to set up permanent institutional arrangements for the management of national disasters". Evidently recognition is dawning on the central government that it is not enough for it to be satisfied with providing additional finance assistance and support to a state when it is faced with a natural calamity.

The Tenth Finance Commission (TFC) had gone on record that "special arrangements may become necessary to provide not only financial, but also physical assistance to a state, particularly when faced with natural calamity of rare severity". The Eleventh Finance Commission (EFC) went a step further to emphasise that there was "a need to develop a system in which it should be possible to take suo motu recognition of the occurrence of calamities of rare severity by the central government". Of course, when the latter commission recommended the establishment of a National Centre for Calamity Management, it did not quite explain why, when dealing with calamities like cyclone, earthquake and fire along with drought, flood and hailstorm, the proposed institutional arrangement to monitor natural calamities was to be set up by the ministry of agriculture and not by an organisation that was capable of addressing problems and difficulties beyond those which the ministry of agriculture would have the experience and capability of addressing. The finance minister, while recognising the need for an institutional arrangement to tackle national disasters has also not elaborated how the capability of a permanent institutional arrangement of the type envisaged was proposed to be built up from the top to the bottom.

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