In the last six months, the city has seen a record enrolment of more than 3,500 volunteers in the Civil Defence as manpower is required to sustain this programme. In an upgradation mode, they will be coming out with facilities like their own control room number, at the same time hoping to strengthen their units for assisting in calamities and natural disasters.
Anyone who wishes to lend a hand may do so with the Civil Defence, according to Om Prakash, IPS, the Director of Civil Defence . He adds, “Citizens have an important role to play in the defence of their homes, their neighbourhood, the city, country and themselves.”
Presently, Civil Defence is very active in Bangalore with a strength of over 10,000 wardens spread across the city, covering all the 104 Police Stations. “We are also present at Kaiga Nuclear Plant in Mallapur of Uttar Kannada District and at Raichur Thermal Plant in Raichur District,” says Om Prakash.
“The objectives of Civil Defence are threefold — to save lives and minimise damage to property, to maintain continuity of production and to keep up the morale of the public during emergencies. The most harmful elements that affect morale are panic, rumours, rowdy behaviour and enemy propaganda as well as psychological warfare.
Disaster Management Act 2005 mandates Civil Defence to prevent and mitigate sufferings during disasters, either natural or man made, and to assist police and other law enforcement agencies in maintaining peace.
The services of well educated citizens with a passion to serve the country are required in Civil Defence. “Companies, organisations and residential welfare associations can motivate their employees to enroll as Civil Defence Volunteers as part of their CSR or ERT initiatives,” says Om Prakash.
The warden is the friend, philosopher and guide of the people in his sector. He is the eyes and ears of the Civil Defence authorities in an area.
He advises people on various aspects of Civil Defence and protection and has to gain cooperation through his personality rather than by a show of power.
Civil Defence Wardens were the first to rush relief and rescue operations during floods in north Karnataka and carried out sustained operations in the remotest villages of this region. “They took part in evacuation of fire victims in the Carlton Tower fire tragedy. They also rush to assist fire and emergency services during most of fire emergencies in Bangalore on a 24x7 basis while they are also on the spot during other disasters like building collapse, tree fall, urban flooding, major accidents, drowning and gas cylinder leaks. Helping the police on night beats and patrolling, they further assist them in crowd control during festivals and mass gatherings. Wardens are been trained on a war footing for various skills at the Civil Defence head quarters,” explained Om Prakash.
Civil Defence and background
During Disasters, Civil Defence is the defence of civilians by civilians, not by regular armed forces. According to the Civil Defence Act, 1968, Civil Defence includes any measures not amounting to actual combat for affording protection to any person, property, place or thing in India or any part of the territory thereof against any hostile attack and to assist law enforcement agencies to maintain peace.
Civil Defence in India, was established with a name CERO in 1936 but took an organised form after the Chinese aggression in November 1962 and the Indo-Pak conflict of September 1965. However, during the war with Pakistan in 1965 and December 1971, the contribution and importance of Civil Defence was noticed.
For the first time in the history of Indian elections, Civil Defence personnel were deployed as ‘Special Police Officers’ during Karnataka General Elections-2013. “This is the only organisation to deploy women in the operation, and was much appreciated for it,” says Om Prakash, adding, “Civil Defence played a lead role along with district administration, National Disaster Management Authority and other agencies during bomb blast mock drill held at Forum Mall and Yeswanthpur Railway Station along with nine other stake holders. Civil Defence ensured mass evacuation, first aid, triage, transportation, ambulance management, crowd control and traffic management.
Civil Defence, Bangalore has made rapid strides in all spheres and achieved greater success by reaching out to wardens on the grass-root levels and motivating them to serve. “Few highlights of our activities are mock drills, parade and community capacity building, participating at parades during Independence Day and Republic Day," says Om Prakash.
Community Capacity Building
Civil defence organises training and awareness programs in several colleges and residence welfare associations, Lions Clubs, Rotary clubs and other social organisations to create awareness among first responders.
"By actively involving in community capacity building, we could attract large applicants to join Civil Defence in Bangalore," adds Om Prakash.
Quick Response Team (QRT)
Bangalore Civil defence is known for its Quick Response Team, a team of civil defence wardens who have undergone specialised training.
Awards and recognitions
They have consistently won Independence Day and Republic Day parade marching contingent awards from the Governor and Chief Minister. “For the first time in the history of Karnataka Civil Defence, 10 Civil defence Wardens were awarded the Chief Minister’s medal for meritorious service. On August 15, Officer Commanding and Chief Warden Dr PRS Chetan was awarded the President of India’s Medal for meritorious service in Civil Defence and he was also the first person from Karnataka to be awarded the Commendation Disk from Ministry of Home Affairs,” reveals Om Prakash.
Over 3,600 people have been enrolled in the last six months, which is an all time record, achieved through meticulous planning and awareness among the general public. “We are time and again trying to upgrade the services and planning. Right now our emergency number is operated through the Fire Station. Soon, we plan to have a control number for Civil Defence. Apart from that we have requested the state government to give us equipments like helmet with a torch, gloves, boots, some cutters, small fire fighting equipment.