NDRF to get 4 new battalions for disaster response

The country's premier disaster response force NDRF will soon have four more battalions totalling about 4,000 personnel for better reaction and effective reach during calamities.

Published: 04th August 2017 06:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2017 06:18 PM   |  A+A-

Fire brigade and NDRF personnel carrying out a search and rescue operation following a building collapse at Ghatkopar in Mumbai on Tuesday. (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The country's premier disaster response force NDRF will soon have four more battalions totalling about 4,000 personnel for better reaction and effective reach during calamities.

NDRF Director General (DG) Sanjay Kumar said the decision to raise and base the new battalions in four north Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh is under consideration of the government and final modalities are being worked out.

"The government wants to induct these new battalions in the NDRF as early as possible. However, the sanctioned time for this is till 2019," the DG told reporters here.

The entire manpower and battalions of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are seconded by the paramilitary forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and Assam Rifles and the new contingents are expected to come from these organisations.

Responding to a question on the 12-battalion strong force getting an independent air wing, the DG said the proposal is in the "preliminary stages and all aspects are being looked into".

He added that presently they get "fantastic response" from the Indian Air Force (IAF), which deploys its helicopters and aircraft to airlift NDRF teams to a disaster struck areas.

The DG, who recently took charge of the 2006-raised force, said the floods and heavy rains situation in maximum parts of the country including Gujarat and Rajasthan is "getting normal" and is "not alarming".

"We had unprecedented floods in Gujarat and we deployed the maximum teams there on the requisition of the state government. But things are getting better now. The situation in Rajasthan is also not alarming now.

"We, however, are on the standby and our teams are prepositioned in various parts of the country to undertake a quick relief and rescue task," Kumar said.

He added that four teams are still stationed in Rajasthan while 18 are working in Gujarat. "The worst, we assume, is over," he said indicating to disasters emerging out of heavy rains and floods. The DG said the force is trying to cut down response time as much as possible and hence has deployed a number of small regional response teams in various regions of the country for fast response.

"We are also educating the community about disaster preparedness and we aim to prepare a resilient society against disasters.

"We are trying to build up capacity against both man-made and natural disasters by training the state forces and are asking those who do not have state disaster response forces to raise their own," the DG said.

An official data said the force rescued 1,837 people, evacuated 9,984 disaster victims, 40 live stock and retrieved 19 bodies as part of its operations conducted across the country this year.

The force has also got trained over 530 of its personnel in slithering and commando skills by the elite NSG, a task where rescuers come down on the ground from a low hovering helicopter and directly reach a calamity-hit area.

The force will be also host the annual Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) disaster management exercise in the national capital region in October this year, with the participation of the seven member countries.

The NDRF is the national force mandated to respond to disasters in any part of the country. It has 12 battalions with 1,149 personnel each and they have been located in various states across the country. Each of its battalions have domain experts and teams of engineers, paramedics, technicians, electricians and canine handlers along with trained rescuers.

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