NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel has expressed concern over the "huge gap" between the sanctioned and existing equipment in the inventory of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and asked the government to procure these items without any delay.
The committee on estimates observed this and suggested recommendations in its 13th report submitted to the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The panel of parliamentarians is headed by Pune BJP MP Girish Bapat.
"The committee, when examined the details of authorised and existing number of various disaster response equipment under different categories, is surprised to note that there has been a huge gap in large number of such items like brick hammer, chipping hammer bits pointed, chipping hammer bits flat, multi para monitor, oxygen concentrator, pulse oximeter and nebuliser," the committee said in the report.
The committee said it found that "about 10 items, which are authorised for NDRF, does not form part of it."
It adds that there has been "a huge shortage of almost all the items authorised to NDRF."
The committee asked the Union Home ministry, under which the force functions, to "understand the gravity of adverse impact of such a big shortage of equipment on disaster relief management in the past and future too."
"The committee strongly recommends that shortage of equipment under different categories may be reviewed in a time bound manner and the remaining equipment procured without further delay," it said.
The panel, during its review, also found that forest fires are not included in the list of disasters tackled by the specialised force.
It was informed that this matter was "reportedly under consultation with stakeholders concerned."
"Forest fires is a growing threat globally now. The incidents of forest fires not only damage the forest resources but also damage the biodiversity, cause climate change, adversely impact tribal livelihood and lead to severe distress among flora and fauna of forests."
In view of the increase of these incidents in the country, it said, forest fores should be "expeditiously" added to the list of disasters tackled by the NDRF that was raised in 2006.
"Due to the limited capacity of forest department to fight huge forest fires, it is high time that the same is tackled by a highly trained force on disasters."
"The committee desires to be apprised of any progress in this matter," it said.
The NDRF is a 12-battalions strong force which are based across various locations in the country.
Four additional battalions are under raising.
Each NDRF battalion has 1,149 personnel who are equipped with disaster response gadgets like pole cutters, electric saw, inflatable boats, essential medicines and others for undertaking relief and rescue operations during a natural or man-made calamity.