As the government mobilises resources to deal with floods in Jammu and Kashmir, the top disaster management body, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was facing critical vacancies after the NDA government secured resignations of its vice-chairman and seven other members who were appointed by the earlier UPA regime.
According to sources, these vacancies are likely to be filled only after the government carries out a total revamp of national disaster management structure.
The government is planning to amend the Disaster Management Act on the basis of recommendations made by a task force headed by PK Mishra, the then agricultural secretary, in March 2013.
Mishra is now additional principal secretary to the Prime Minister. The task force found many gaps in the working of the NDMA.
Its report stated that the biggest problem with the NDMA was that it had no representation of the home ministry, which coordinates the disaster response.
The NDMA has been tasked with laying down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management to ensure timely and effective response to calamities.
However, even after the creation of NDMA, older structures to deal with disasters, like the high level committee (HLC) — which consists of Union home, finance, agriculture ministers — continued to exist, creating an overlapping structure.
The task force said most of these old structures should be subsumed by the NDMA or abolished. It has been recommended that the Union ministers of home, finance, defence and agriculture should be ex-officio members of the NDMA.
Rest of the vacancies should be filled with domain experts.