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15th Finance Commission: need to increase focus on pre-disaster management

By IMPRI Team 

#IMPRI Center for Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainable Development (CECCSD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a distinguished lecture in collaboration with the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), the Ministry of Home Affairs on 28th October 2022. The deliberation was on the 15th Finance Commission and Disaster Risk Management, with Shri N. K. Singh, a Prominent Indian Economist, Academician and Policymaker, and the Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission of India being the speaker. The session was inaugurated by Ms Aanchal Karnani, a researcher at IMPRI by giving a brief introduction to the organizers and other guests.
The patron for the event was Shri Taj Hassan, IPS and Executive Director at the NIDM, New Delhi. The conveners were Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi; Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI; Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director at IMPRI; Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Associate Professor at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. Throughout the session, various works of Mr N. K. Singh were quoted to imply the prominence of his presence, along with other members and conveners, participants of the event.
Commencing the event, Prof Anil K Gupta formally invited Mr N. K. Singh and also proceeded to give his opening remarks for the event. He went on to brief the gathering about the aspects to be discussed in the event. He emphasized the need for an increased focus on pre-disaster management rather than just post-disaster management. He then put light on the various financial funds related to disaster management at various levels such as State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), along with some additional funds. Being a part of the National Institute of Disaster Management, he talked about various ways of tackling pre-disaster mitigations and areas under the same, quoting some work of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Followed by this, Mr N. K. Singh gave an opening regard to all the organizers for conducting the event. He began his talk by mentioning that the intensity of various disasters induced the 15th Finance Commission to have the issue of Disaster Management as one of its top priorities. In the past, disasters were mainly associated with natural disasters, typhoons and cyclones being a couple of them. However, over time, they have broadened into various other aspects such as epidemics and pandemics. He mentioned how the 15th Finance Commission has moved from its general 6-year report to a 5-year report regarding disaster management from 2021.
He then put forward several recommendations to the Disaster Management Act that have been made and emphasizing the primary concern regarding the areas of Global Warming and Climate Change and reviewing the responsibilities of the National Disaster Management Authority and State Disaster Management Authority, thus, placing further recommendations, especially addressing the issue of COVID-19. He further pointed out that several acts of the past which are not in line with the current issues of epidemics and pandemics have to be recalibrated- such as the Epidemic Act and Acts related to public health. In 2002, there were recommendations to include insurance for households and corporate sectors.
He highlighted the three large Global Frameworks namely, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and their aspects of mitigation, risk reduction, and resilience that have to be properly met by the state and civil society. About climate change, he talked about India’s initiative to launch the National Action Plan for Climate Change, covering various multilateral aspects such as solar energy, the Himalayan ecosystem, and agriculture to name a few proceeded by the State Action Plans.
He went on to talk about the steps taken by the government by introducing the National Adaptation Fund, covering areas of renewable energy, afforestation, energy efficiency, and urban development, and how these efforts have led to a significant reduction of carbon emissions in India over a decade as India stands to affirm its climate goals. He mentioned that the commission acknowledged different functions covering both relief and mitigation by creating the National and State Disaster Risk Management Fund. The fiscal allocation for centre-state contribution has been 75:25 except for north-eastern states which have 90:10.
He suggested that the Financial Instrument for Disaster Management needs to be diversified and further talked about various recommendations made by the 15th Finance Commission including maintaining union-state contribution, setting mitigation funds at both levels keeping in mind the state’s capacity for vulnerability, and allocation of funds based on previous expenditures while maintaining cost-sharing ratios and reconstruction and recovery facility alongside, prioritizing the vulnerable projects and the recommendations for proper implementation of the various schemes. He also mentioned the recommendation of an annual report showcasing all fund allocations and expenditures by the government.
He continued his talk by mentioning the various challenges faced in financing disaster risk management ranging from the issue of fund allocation to improper management of private capital and the puzzle relating to private contributors’ profit motive hampering their participation. Along with these challenges he mentioned the typical challenges of war, recession, and inflation that also have to be addressed. He concluded his speech with certain solutions to these challenges and stressed on properly laid out roles and responsibilities of different central banks, the importance of insurance policies and foreign investment, the fostering of technology, efficient use of data, the need for international and domestic regulations and incentivizing multiple tiers of governance.
Prof Anil K Gupta proceeded with the event by asking for insight regarding states’ responsiveness towards disaster management, from the point of view of mitigation. The question was quite intellectually responded to by Mr N. K. Singh, who suggested that similar seminars be organized with the states, to help them understand and prepare for such situations. Finally, Professor Anil K Gupta extended his vote of thanks to Mr N. K. Singh, emphasizing some key points that were made by the speaker. The speaker also gave some very valuable suggestions regarding future collaborations.
In the end, the event was concluded with a final vote of thanks by Ms Aanchal Karnani on behalf of #IMPRI Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD).
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Acknowledgement: Soham Biswas, a research intern at IMPRI


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