Tamil Nadu on Friday announced a Disaster Management Policy 2023 to build a safe and disaster resilient Tamil Nadu through inclusive development and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into the sustainable development ethos of the State

Over the past century, over 50 cyclones have battered the TN coast at various locations, posing a constant threat to people living in the coastal districts. Apart from the cyclones, other frequent disasters in the State are floods, landslides, droughts, sea erosion and sea water incursion, heat waves, thunderstorm and lightning, industrial & chemical disasters, fire accidents and forest fires

Addresssing disaster risks

The 2004 Tsunami was a major disaster that adversely affected people in many ways (7,995 deaths). Few pockets of the State are vulnerable to earthquakes. The State is also vulnerable to health-related hazards, epidemic and pandemic prone diseases such as chikunguniya, dengue, COVID-19 and other vector and waterborne diseases.

The State government is aware of these challenges and recognises the importance of devising a disaster management policy that takes into account the present and emerging challenges with a long-term value based vision. The policy reflects the priority of protecting human and animal lives, livelihoods, public and private properties by addressing disaster risks and transforming risks to resilience.

Policy objectives

The policy’s goal is to reduce the negative impact of all types of disasters with the help of strong disaster management machinery, so that loss of life, property, and damage to critical infrastructure is minimised, and economic and development benefits achieved by the State are not lost during such calamities/disasters.

The policy’s objectives include replacing the existing approach of reactive relief by a proactive approach of mitigation and risk reduction; develop a new culture of prevention, preparedness and quick response for management of disasters and reduce the vulnerability of the community through proper risk assessment and essential measures of risk mitigation.

On sourcing of funds for mitigation measures, the policy document says that it will be sourced mainly from the State Disaster Mitigation Fund and National Disaster Mitigation Fund and Special purpose funds created by the Centre.

The 15 Finance Commission has provided ₹2,500 crore for Reducing the Risk of Urban Flooding in seven most populous cities. An allocation of ₹500 crore is to be provided to Chennai at the rate of ₹100 crore per year in five years.

To take up drought mitigation programmes, Tamil Nadu has been provided with ₹100 crore. This will be provided at the rate of ₹20 crore over a period of 5 years.

An allocation of ₹750 crore has been provided for Managing Seismic and Landslide Risks in Ten Hill States. The Centre will be approached to provide allocations to Tamil Nadu in view of the recurring landslides in The Nilgris District and emerging landslide related risks in the hill areas of Theni, Dindigul, Salem, Thirupatthur districts.

An allocation of ₹5,000 crore has been provided under NDRF – Capacity Building Component for modernising the fire services of the country. The State will prepare a perspective plan for modernisation of fire services to avail funding support from the Centre.

While the recommendation of 15th Finance Commissions are applicable for the period from 2021-2026, the Government will urge the Centre to continue to provide special support for disaster management more particularly to disaster mitigation, the policy document says.