Varying climatic conditions and changing patterns are making India susceptible to disasters, be it natural or man-made. Floods, cyclones, landslides, and earthquakes, among others, are some of the natural disasters that beset the country from time to time, while unforeseen events such as accidents and now, the global pandemic COVID-19 take place, resulting in loss of lives and huge humanitarian impact.
The approach towards disaster management has changed to that of a collaborative and proactive one, thereby enabling holistic management. These disasters impact all sectors of socio-economic life, including the corporate sector, inflicting heavy economic losses, as well as property and lives. Hence, focussed attention has been given to risk mitigation to systematically reduce the vulnerabilities. Corporates in every country play a pivotal role in disaster relief, rehabilitation and recovery efforts in the affected areas.
With a direct membership of over 9,000 enterprises, CII has been leading many national disaster management initiatives. CII was the first industry organisation to form a Disaster Management Committee in May 2001 in the aftermath of the earthquake in Bhuj, Gujarat, to advise its member industries in planning and initiating disaster risk reduction steps to protect them from natural and man-made disasters. Currently, CII’s Disaster Management Division works towards involving the Indian industry in schemes under the National Disaster Management Plan.
The CII Foundation was set up in 2011 to instil inclusive development in the country through various developmental and charitable activities. These include community support and rehabilitation work along with skill development and livelihood projects, establishing health and education facilities and generation of environmental awareness in the eco-sensitive zones.
CII has undertaken extensive relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work following the tsunami in 2004, Odisha cyclone, floods in Jammu & Kashmir and Kerala, and other calamities. Adopting villages and helping in restoring social and community assets, it has stayed connected with affected communities with a view to rebuilding livelihoods and provide support in rehabilitation.
The recent outbreak of Coronavirus, a global pandemic, has once again mobilised CII into action to alleviate suffering and loss. To temper the speed of the spread of the Coronavirus, the entire nation has been in lockdown since 25th March, 2020. This has had an enormous impact on the economy.
CII has worked on multiple fronts in the wake of this disaster. To restart the economy in a safe and calibrated manner, CII provided policy inputs and made recommendations regarding support for industry. It put together coalitions for manufacturing of ventilators, masks and personal protective equipment, facilitating production of 60,000 masks and 40,000 PPE a day and almost 16,000 ventilators by more than 70 manufacturers.
The CII Foundation, partner organisation Young Indians (Yi) and affiliated associations SIAM and ACMA are providing relief and rehabilitation across 28 states in India. As on 25th May, over 77 lakh people have directly benefitted from the measures, and 65 lakh protective & hygiene materials (1.35 lakh PPEs, 22.95 lakh masks, 12.65 lakh gloves, and 28 lakh sanitizers/soaps ) have been distributed. Community kitchens have been set up across many cities and distribution of cooked food and dry ration kits is being undertaken on a regular basis.
The organisation has started a COVID fund to provide immediate relief to vulnerable communities, including economic challenges faced by these sections. It has also actively supported various government departments, healthcare workers, and front line workers in their relief efforts.
The most recent natural disaster, Amphan Cyclone, ravaged Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal on 20th May, 2020. CII formed a task force to work closely with the State government and mobilised relief work in the affected areas. It has helped in distributing urgent requirements like food items, personal hygiene products, solar lanterns, tarpaulins, polymer roofing sheets, polymer water tanks etc.
Natural as well as man-made disasters leave a tremendous social, human and developmental impact on industrial growth, stability and prosperity in the affected regions. CII has been directing industry efforts to build resilience in the community and encourage adoption & integration of disaster risk reduction good practices and mitigation measures.
- Chandrajit Banerjee
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has recommended direct cash transfers of Rs 2.0 lakh crore to the Jan Dhan accounts of the poor to help them tide over this crisis. This should be done in addition to Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus already announced. It should be ensured that migrant labourers receive money in their accounts so that they are encouraged to return to the workforce.
Businesses are dealing with a cash flow crunch, and it is difficult to lend wage support to workers. To avoid job losses, enterprises need immediate support. CII has recommended a provision of Rs 2 lakh crore for additional working capital to help enterprises in meeting wage requirements and interest payments for the next three months. Banks should provide enhanced limits, equivalent to April - June wage bill of the businesses, backed by a Government guarantee, at 4-5 per cent interest, with a refinance guarantee from RBI. A similar carve-out could be provided for the April – June interest obligations of the stressed sectors.
CII has also provided ways to finance the stimulus package to ensure a stable macro-economic environment. It has suggested Rs 4 lakh crore support from the subscription of government paper by the RBI as a possible measure to monetise the government borrowings. An equivalent amount can be curtailed from Government expenditure bills.