Crowd Disaster Management

Disaster management and especially crowd disaster management is a very pertinent topic for the UPSC exam as every year in India at least one disaster occurs which could have been prevented had there been better crowd management. Hence, this topic assumes greater importance for the IAS exam. Also, IAS officers are frequently charged with the duty of controlling and managing large crowds as part of their jobs. 

What is a Disaster?

Disaster management means a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing measures that are necessary for:

  • Prevention of danger or threat to any disaster
  • Mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or consequences
  • Capacity-building
  • Preparedness to deal with any disaster
  • Prompt response to any threatening disaster
  • Assessing the magnitude or severity of effects of any disaster
  • Evacuation, rescue and relief
  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction

The point to note here is that our organization for managing droughts, ‘ National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has formulated effective guidelines for almost all disasters, however w,e still are in the process of devising a proper strategy for this newly termed crowd disaster. Although crowd disasters are not a new phenomenon, however, they were thought to be of localized nature and hence were not given their due importance. However with the ever increasing population of India, the instances of large masses gathering at places such as shopping malls, religious destinations, railway stations etc. on a daily basis, and the realization that immense amount of destruction of life and national property happen in these mishaps, it has become imperative to devise a national policy in this regard. In this regard, crowd management guidelines have also been shared by the NDMA recently. Crowd disasters are man-made disasters which can be prevented by proper policy making, planning, execution along with well-trained personnel.

1Causes of disasters

According to the NDMA, there are six categories into which these causes can be classified:

  1. Structural failures
  2. Fire/ Electricity
  3. Crowd Control
  4. Crowd Behaviour
  5. Security lapses
  6. Lack of Coordination among different stakeholders

2NDMA Guidelines for Crowd Management UPSC

Planning the strategy for management

  1. Understanding visitors
  2. Understanding stakeholders
  3. Crowd Management strategies
    • Capacity planning
    • Understanding Crowd behavior
    • Crowd disaster process
    • Crowd control
    • Stakeholder approach
  4. Risk analysis and preparedness
    • Identify threats or causes
    • Risk assessment
    • Planning
    • Develop course of action
  5. Information management and dissemination
  6. Safety and security measures
  7. Medical Emergency Services

3Role of Media

Broadly we can categorise the role of media in the following way:

  1. Educational
  2. Critical
  3. Suggestive

Before a disaster:

  1. Bring to the attention of the authorities
  2. Prepare the community and making them aware of Do’s and Don’ts
  3. Keeping a watch on anti-social elements, thereby helping in maintaining the law and order situation

During a disaster:

  1. Broadcasting accurate information to stop rumours and hence reduce panic
  2. Make people aware about their Do’s and Don’ts to reduce further damage of a probable secondary risk
  3. Can assist the authorities in reaching out to the victims and their families
  4. Facilitate resource mobilization (funds) for relief operations

After a disaster:

  1. Informing the people about the post-disaster rehabilitation measures for putting pressure on the authorities
  2. Provide aid in investigating the causes of the disaster
  3. Can help generate expert opinion through debates/discussions for better preparedness levels in future

Role of Science and Technology Disaster Mitigation and Prevention

  1. Geographic information system
  2. Radio frequency identification
  3. Radio, Television, SMS etc.

These all including other technologies and methods help in creating early warning systems, information dissemination, search and rescue, insurance processing etc.  

Legal Provisions

  1. Disaster Management Act, 2005
  2. The Police Act, 1961
  3. Kerala Police Act, 2011
  4. UP Melas Act, 1938
  5. Cinematograph Act, 1952
  6. Delhi Cinematograph Rules, 1953

Approach for Civil Services:

General Studies 1: Impact of crowd disasters on the society General Studies 2: Policy of the government for management of crowd disasters

Keywords: Disaster Management, NDMA, Crowd disaster

Disaster Management UPSC Question

What are attitudinal issues related to public safety in India? Do you think administrative apathy alone is responsible for man made disasters in India. Critically Examine.


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