The 15th finance commission has started examining and analysing the scope and need for expanding the gamut of a country’s disaster management laws with a view of preparing the country to face future health emergencies. The finance commission is examining the existing laws to save if they can cover pandemic situations more thoroughly.

Commission chairman NK Singh held a virtual meeting with officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Thursday. The objective was to seek feedback on the adequacy of the recommendations on disaster risk management made in the commission’s report for 2020-21, and get suggestions for the next five years with a special focus on Covid-19, officials said.

The commission had recommended allocation of Rs 28,983 crore to the State Disaster Response Fund, out of which the Centre recently released Rs 11,092 crore as its share of the first instalment for 2020-21. The fund, the Centre had said, could be used for cluster containment, quarantine and purchase of personal protective equipment for frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. The commission is now finalising its recommendations for its report for the next five years, to be submitted before October.

Experts have started demanding that even as the Covid-19 situation was being handled, Parliament must review the disaster management laws to create a comprehensive legal regime to effectively tackle any future public health crisis.