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SC issues notice over enforcing Disaster Management Act

SC issues notice over enforcing Disaster Management Act

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central government, disaster relief agencies, the meteorological department and some states on a PIL seeking implementation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in "letter and spirit".

The states that have been issued notice include Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar. Besides these states, the National Disaster Management Authority, National Disaster Response Force, and the India Meteorological Department were also issued notice.

The apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar issued notice and tagged the public interest litigation with another pending matter, after counsel Ravi Mehrotra told the court that laws enacted by parliament should be implemented.

The non-government organisation Foundation For Restoration Of National Values, in its PIL, said: "Woeful and alarming situation and ground realities in respect of disaster management brought to the fore by the recent unfortunate and tragic event in Uttarakhand, are mirrored by the almost complete negation of the intention and avowed objectives, as envisaged by parliament, behind the enactment of the Disaster Management Act...."

The failure to put in place "the necessary infrastructure and manpower, mobilisation and utilisation of technology, as also the all-important coordination among various stakeholders and agencies" reflects on the ineffectiveness of the National Disaster Management Authority and State Disaster Management Authority, the PIL said.

All this has reduced the "exalted goal of disaster prevention and mitigation in India to a myth", the petition said.

"The non-functionality of the disaster management authorities, both at the centre and in the states, and the critical gaps in the level of preparedness for various disasters, was very apparent when a series of events, which were nothing short of a national calamity, unfolded June 16 in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand", the petition said.

"The state of neglect in disaster management and disaster preparedness in India was pointed out by the CAG in its report that was tabled in parliament April 23," it said.

"India is one of the 10 worst disaster-prone countries in the world," it said.

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