Karnataka Disaster Response Force to take shape in 6 months

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B.K. Khanna

MYSORE, August 1: The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) is expected to take shape in the next six months on the lines of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), an agency under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The State government has allotted a two-acre plot at Yelahanka in Bangalore to house the SDRF battalion.

Disclosing this to presspersons here on Wednesday, coordinator for Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority K.K. Pradeep said the process of establishing the SDRF was under way and the State battalion would be ready in a few months. A sum of Rs. 3.5 crore had been sanctioned to set up the SDRF, he added.

Exercises in State

Mr. Pradeep said exercises were being conducted in the State by the NDMA through the NDRF battalion at Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. One of the teams of the battalion had been deployed in Bangalore.

The NDRF conducts exercises to assess the preparedness of the stakeholders in the respective districts and give them the training necessary to respond to disasters — natural or manmade — in the shortest time possible, minimising human casualties.

Brigadier B.K. Khanna, senior consultant, NDMA, New Delhi, who was here in connection with the drills here on Wednesday, said the State government had been requested to establish the SDRF at the earliest and added that the NDMA would provide training to the SDRF battalion on handling disasters.

“I am told the process of setting up the SDRF is under way. I have also suggested that a team of the SDRF battalion be deployed in places where nuclear installations are located,” he said.

‘Response can be improved’

Referring to drills in Mysore, he said the first response by stakeholders, including government departments such as police, fire and emergency services and health was good, but could be improved by overcoming ‘gaps’ noticed during such drills. The drills were conducted to check the system, the responses of the stakeholders and coordination. There was always scope for improvement, he said.

Conducted in 10 places

Brig. Khanna said drills had been conducted in about 10 places in Karnataka, including Bangalore and Mangalore. “States are asked about the kind of disasters they anticipate and accordingly, exercises are conducted by NDRF battalions deployed across the country,” he said.

For example, chemical terrorism was a new threat. In such disasters, there was no time to react. More pro-active preparedness was needed to handle such situations. Other scenarios included bomb explosions and gas leaks, he explained.

In case of major disasters, teams from other battalions were sent to the site of the disaster, like in the case of the Uttarakhand floods, 35 NDRF teams were deployed. Brig. Khanna said the focus of disaster management was to prevent human casualties.

Deputy Commissioner C. Shikha said the dos and don’ts during disasters would be issued to spread awareness among the public.

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