Why Union Budget 2022-23 falls short in addressing gaps to build disaster resilience

News: The budgetary allocations under relief on natural calamities and MGNREGA are not up to mark. This can affect India in building disaster resilience.

Why is the allocation provided under disaster resilience is not enough?

According to the World Meteorological Organizations ‘State of the Climate in Asia” report, India lost Rs 65 lakh crore in 2020 alone because of tropical cyclones, floods, and droughts. But, still, the allocation under relief operations for natural calamities has been decreased to Rs 1,511.93 crore in 2022-23 from Rs 1,538.03 crores in 2021-22. The ActionAid India recent citizens report, also indicated that  India needs more resources at ground level.

This allocation is not sufficient as between 1991 and 2021, India covered only 8% of the total losses and there is a protection gap of 92% during this period.

Why there is a need to review the disaster funds?

First, the list of items and norms of assistance from SDRF and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for 2010-15 and 2015-20 is outdated, so needs to be revised.

Second, Some of the compensation listed in the norms is highly inadequate. For example, Under the 2015-20 guidelines, Rs 3,200 is given as compensation for partially damaged kuchcha houses and Rs 95,100 for fully damaged kuchcha houses. However, no one gets Rs 95,100 as compensation and Rs 3,200 is highly inadequate for restoring even a kutcha house.

What steps should the government adopt in its disaster relief activities?

The state allocations for SDRF are not enough, so need to increase them.

– Need to bring uniformity of compensation across the country.

– Need to present disaster-risk reduction (DRR) component in all the departments which will help in prioritizing the life of people living in coastal regions, within 5 km of the sea, building disaster-resilient houses in for ecologically sensitive zones, etc.

– Government should allocate financial resources to formulate community-level disaster management plans. It should map the blocks and Gram Panchayats which are susceptible to disaster and fund them to operationalize their DRR plan.

– More focus should be on Vulnerable population groups such as women, children, elderly and disabled people.

– Allocation provided under National Coastal Mission and MoEFCC should be used to protect the livelihoods of fisherfolk and also the mangroves in the Sundarbans. The West Bengal government has already set up a mangrove resource centre to study and raise mangrove forests.

What should be the way forward?

Achieving SDG 13 requires urgent actions to combat climate change. This requires reevaluating grant infrastructure projects in ecologically fragile areas. The focus should shift to villages, towns, and other locations in states which are affected by disasters every year.

There is a need to speed up relief distribution and rehabilitation, and also enhance compensation amounts. To add to this, disaster-resilient houses and social security safety nets should be built.

Source: This post is based on the article “Why Union Budget 2022-23 falls short in addressing gaps to build disaster resilience” published in the Down to Earth on 8th February 2022.

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