Corporate Role in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
By
Mr. Nirankar Saxena, Director, FICCI and
Mr. Surender Kr. Verma, Deputy Director, FICCI



Indian industry accounts for 27.6% of the GDP and employs 17% of the workforce. In the context of the contribution of the corporate sector to the economy, any disaster be it rapid-onset like cyclones and tsunamis, or slow-onset like droughts has wide-ranging economic implications. From loss of property, raw materials, assets, human resources, business continuity to loss of markets and exports, the corporate sector faces huge losses each time a disaster strikes, which takes years or even decades to recover. In India, the natural disasters eroded 2% of the GDP during 1996-2001 and consumed 12% of the government revenue. A study reveals that 43% of the industries experiencing a disaster never re-open and 29% close for good within two years even if they mobilize resources to restart their operations.

Repeated occurrence of disasters every year has brought about a paradigm shift in the approach. This paradigm shift operationalised primarily by changing the nodal ministry from Agriculture to Home Affairs, passing of the DM Act, 2005 and setting up of various institution and agencies. Creation of NDMA brought in a subtle change in the disaster management scenario in India. The change in paradigm is operationalised by the systematic development and application of policies, guidelines, strategies & practices to minimize vulnerability and disaster risks throughout society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (preparedness and mitigation) adverse impact of hazards, within broader context of sustainable development. NDMA has brought out many National Guidelines on various kinds of disasters to counter their effects and manage them to minimize vulnerability.

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has been organising Conferences, seminars and Workshops on Chemical Disaster Management in the country. FICCI has collaborated with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India, Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), State Governments and many reputed Knowledge Partners & Technical Institutions in the Country to give impetus to these programmes. More than 17 conferences have been organized on Chemical (Industrial) Disaster Management (CIDM) throughout the Country.

These awareness programmes were epoch making events where participants from chemical sector, petroleum, petroleum products, oil & gas industry, institutions, regulatory authorities, medics, para-medics, NGOs, media participated to compare and emulate their existing safety and security network with best practices in technology and management as observed elsewhere in the world. This will also help to reduce, through better emergency planning, the menace of on-site incidents and accidents associated with handling, storage, warehousing and transportation of chemicals/oil & gas/petrochemicals leading to off-site emergencies. Mock Drills are also being organized in relevant industries to give participants a hands-on-experience of the coordination exercise among the employees of the company (On-site) with the off-site emergency responders and district administration.

FICCI is also promoting products and technologies manufactured/developed by companies through these conferences on Safety, Occupational Health & Environment, Fire Fighting, Rescue/Relief Equipment, Gas Storage, Distribution, Gas Leakage/ Detection, Recording, Monitoring, Control, Alarming Instrument Suppliers, Personal Protective Equipment/Clothing, Medical Electronic Equipment, Anti-Fire Chemical, Fire Resistant Material Manufacturers etc. FICCI has also set up a Centre for Technology Commercialization to promote technologies developed by Innovators across the Nation, including the innovations of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the research arm of Ministry of Defence, Government of India.

Since, Bhuj earthquake in 2001, FICCI through corporate efforts have been providing response to disasters or to reduce their counter effects - FICCI in partnership with CARE set up ‘FICCI-CARE Gujarat Rehabilitation Project’ (FCGRP) for Rehabilitation of Earthquake Affected Families in the Kutch Region of Gujarat : Reconstructed 23 villages – Built 5000 Houses, 15 Schools, 11 Community Centre, 21 Anganwadi, Centres, 12 Panchayat Ghars, 5 Sub Health Centres, laid Pipelines for Water Supply & Sewage. During Indian Ocean Tsumani in 2004, FICCI contributed substantially to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. FICCI and NDMA had also taken initiative to send relief materials directly to the affected during J&K Earthquake and Bihar-Kosi Floods.

Corporate sector involvement in disasters in India have focused largely, if not totally, on disaster response. Recent high impact disasters saw considerable corporate responses in the form of food and medicines aid, cash aid, medical camp, tents, construction materials etc. While this is commendable, it is also important that pre-disaster preparedness and mitigation activities are also taken up. It is only by enhancing the resilience of the communities before disaster strikes, that the risk of disasters can be reduced and the business continuity can be maintained. Some initiatives taken by Indian Corporate Groups to supplement the efforts by the government to create a holistic development under Public Private Partnership (PPP) are:

Group / Organisation Name Trust / Centre / Foundation Sector(s)/ Specific Projects towards DRR, Community Development, Awareness
Birla Group Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development Projects on Capacity Development through Self Help Groups. Infrastructure Development - Creation of Dams, Roads, Community Centres, Water Channels and Culverts
The Bajaj Group Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha (JBGVS) formed in 1987 Development and Awareness Activities of 44 villages around Bajaj Auto Plants in Pune, Aurangabad, Drought Prone Area Development Project of Zilla Parishad in 7 villages of Pune
The Reliance Group Reliance Rural Development Trust (RRDT) Created 760 Facilities - 247 roads, 465 Anganwadies, 38 Drinking Water Facilities, One Panchayat Office, 2 Community Halls, 7 Check Dams, Awareness on Solid Waste Management
The Tata Group Tata Chemical Society for Rural Development, Tata Steel Rural Development Society, Tata Council for Community Initiatives, Tata Consultancy Services Health Education, Women-Children Welfare, Adult Literacy Programmes, Social Development, Community Awareness & Education
Bharti Enterprises Bharti Foundation To help Underprivileged Children and Young People, Education & Awareness Programmes, Public Libraries
ITC Ltd. Mission Sunehra Kal Rural Capacity Building Programme fostering development of Water & Forests Resources, Enhance Farm Productivity
INFOSYS Infosys Foundation Health Care - Hospitals, Rural Upliftment & Social Rehabilitation Projects, Relief Shelters, Disaster Relief Material
ONGC   Education, Health & Community Welfare Programmes, Socio-Economic Developemnt during Disasters near Plant Sites
ICICI Bank Ltd. Social Initiatives Group (SIG) To Build Capacities of Poorest of Poor, Early Child Health, Elementary Education, Micro Financial Services
Mahindra & Mahindra K C Mahindra Education Trust Grants, Scholarships and Loans for promoting Education (Nanhi Kali Project to help Underprivileged Girl Child)
Dalmia Cement Limited   Water Resources, Rain Water Harvesting, Tree Plantation
Goodearth Education Foundation GEF Primary Education
Hindustan Construction Company   Health, Education, Disaster Management & Environment (by providing Construction Equipment)
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Limited Construction Skill Training Institute (CSTI) Construction Training Free of Cost to Poor and Rural

The ever-increasing role of civil society has started to put pressure on corporate to act in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. The companies are facing increased pressure for transparency & accountability, being placed on them by their employees, customers, shareholders, media and civil society. There is an umbilical bond between sustainable development & disaster risk reduction and the business organizations are recognizing it so. Integration of risk management measures has to be an all-pervasive activity by the corporate across the industrial spectrum and must not remain a one-off activity. It would seek minimization of expenditure on rehabilitation & reconstruction to obviate dissipation of precious developmental resources and help interweave a culture of safety and preparedness in every walk of national life and more so in the corporate sector so that the development efforts are socially safe, commercially viable and sustainable.

Business does not operate in isolation and there is today, an increased realization that not only can companies affect society at large, but they are also in a unique position to influence society and make positive impact. The corporate perceptions, attitudes, pre-conceived notions and mindsets about the way the things are approached towards risk reduction, disaster preparedness and management is changing in a positive direction which would definitely bring in more economic prosperity along with safe, sustainable and continuous business.