Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the destruction caused by heavy rains in the state a national disaster.
In a post on X on September 10, he said: “Had the privilege of addressing the grave aftermath of torrential rains in Himachal Pradesh during my conversation with Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi Ji after our G20 Summit dinner. I also requested a special disaster relief package and emphasised the need to designate this calamity as a ‘national disaster’, highlighting the urgency of the situation.”
States affected by natural disasters often make such requests to the Centre. Demands for special relief packages are also made. What is the basis of such demands and how does the Centre determine the scale of assistance that it provides?
First, why is Himachal Pradesh demanding assistance?
Sukhu has said that Himachal Pradesh suffered losses of Rs 10,000 crore due to rain-related incidents this monsoon. He demanded that the calamity be declared a national disaster and a special disaster package be announced, PTI reported.
According to the state emergency operation centre, 418 people have died (265 in rain-related incidents and 153 in road accidents) since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 9, while 39 are missing.
How are states assisted during natural disasters?
There is no official or defined category of “national disasters”. Disasters of this nature come under the 2005 Disaster Management Act, which defines a “disaster” as “a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area”.
The Act saw the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), to be headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers. Together with district-level authorities, an integrated Disaster Management setup was to be created in India.