Four more disaster relief battalions planned

October 21st, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Oct 21 (IANS) The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) plans to raise four additional battalions of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and establish a national reserve to assist up to 400,000 people in the event of any disaster, the body’s vice chairman, Gen. (retd) N.C. Vij, said Tuesday.NDMA has already operationalised seven NDRF battalions while the eighth is in the pipeline to deal with the aftermath of natural calamities.

“We are trying to raise four additional battalions, which include one for Hyderabad,” he said during his address at the first World Congress on Disaster Management that began here Tuesday.

“We expect each state to also equip a one battalion equivalent force from within their existing forces,” Vij added.

He announced that all eight battalions would be fully functional by March next year. Of these, four would be specially geared to confront nuclear, biological and chemical emergencies.

“Eighty percent of their equipment and training would be geared toward these aspects,” Vij said.

Each battalion comprises about 1,000 troopers from the central paramilitary forces.

The former army chief said NDRF alone rescued over 100,000 people during the recent Kosi floods in Bihar.

NDMA also proposed to set up a national reserve for 400,000 people.

“Should a disaster strike anywhere, you should not be looking for stores to assist people in that particular state. There will be immediate supplies to any state which has any problem,” he explained.

Vij said the main area of concern for NDMA was the mainstreaming of disaster management into the developmental process so that newly built structure is disaster resilient. The authority plans to shortly implement a process for this purpose.

“This is a process that means that before any major project of above Rs.10 crore (Rs.100 million) gets approved, it must have an inbuilt disaster management audit so that anything which is to come afresh must be able to withstand the kind of disasters which can strike in that particular region of the country.”

He said five mitigation projects at the national level were on the anvil and detailed project reports were being prepared. These include a Rs.16 billion national cyclone risk mitigation project for five coastal states and eight union territories, Rs.5.6 billion earthquake risk mitigation project in 28 states and a Rs.5 billion dedicated disaster communication network in all states.

Vij said the NDMA would shortly issue guidelines on nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.

“This will give lot of confidence to people about the safety of the nuclear plants and the limitations of so-called dirty bombs, besides strengthening emergency response centres,” he said.

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