Prime Minister Narendra Modi started reinventing the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday, naming three disaster experts as members to the advisory body that had become a parking lot for retired bureaucrats under the UPA regime.
Modi approved names of Kamal Kishore, a disaster reduction expert at UNDP, Lt Gen (retd) NC Marwah and Dr DN Sharma, director of the health, safety and environment group at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
Kishore is the New York-based adviser for disaster reduction and recovery at the Union Nations Development Programme and is posted at its bureau for crisis prevention and prevention. He has been associated with formulation of post-disaster recovery framework in several countries including India and Pakistan.
Dr Sharma, on the other hand, has been working closely with the NDMA for several years, helping the body draft guidelines for safety in radiation-related areas. Lt Gen Marwah was the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee prior to his retirement.
Government sources said the three were selected from a list of 82 names received when the home ministry for the first time invited applications from subject experts.
The government had scaled down the rank of NDMA members a few months back to ensure that influential bureaucrats did not have an incentive to pull strings to get into the body. NDMA members hold the rank of secretary to the central government, not a minister of state any longer.
A senior government official said the idea was conceived by the task force headed by former agriculture secretary PK Mishra – now additional principal secretary to the PM – that was set up by the previous UPA government.
But the Manmohan Singh-led PMO sat on the file that proposed carrying out changes. Instead, Singh appointed former CBI special director K Salim Ali as an NDMA member in February this year.
Ali had to quit the NDMA along with other members when the BJP government came to power in May.