The Chennai floods of 2015: urgent need for ethical disaster management guidelines

Suresh Mariaselvam, Vijayaprasad Gopichandran

Abstract

India has suffered several natural disasters in recent years. The super cyclone of Orissa in 1999 and the tsunami on the southeastern coast in 2004, both led to major developments in disaster management abilities in the country. Almost a decade after the last major disaster that hit south India, the recent floods in Chennai in 2015 brought to the fore a whole set of ethical considerations. There were issues of inequity in the relief and response activities, conflicts and lack of coordination between the government and non-government relief and response, more emphasis on short-term relief activities rather than rehabilitation and reconstruction, and lack of crisis standards of care in medical services. This paper highlights these ethical issues and the need for ethical guidelines and an ethical oversight mechanism for disaster management and response.

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