What is a disaster according to the Disaster Management Act?


Section 2(d) of the Act defines “disaster” – means 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;
3 S K Swami, presentation as ‘Organisation of Disaster Response in India at Central and State Government Levels’, Annual Conference of Relief Commissioners, 2001.
In the popular belief, a disaster is usually associated with a natural calamity such as a cyclone or an earthquake, the disaster management act, 2005 also defines it similarly. But unfortunately, it does not specifically describe an infectious disease like the plague of 1720, cholera outbreak of 1820, the Spanish flu of 1920 or the recent most, Corona virus pandemic of 2020. It’s an ambiguous situation for the officers and the executives as how to pursue it, and thus, to address the current epidemic outbreak, the Central government has stated the corona virus outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”.

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