Recall several of us getting glued to the TVs and accessing the internet to find out the status of “Amphan”. With periodic reports about the fury the cyclone is likely to create and wind speeds predicted to be above 260-kilo meters per hour. Anxious wait to know when it would cross and the destruction it is expected to cause. While all are worried about their near and dear ones, some resorting to social media to indicate their safe status, a dedicated force is at the scene of action helping those in need and moving them to safe places, providing food, drinking water and so on. Yes, we are talking about “The National Disaster Response Force”, specialised Indian Special Forces and multi-skilled manpower. During floods, drowning, cyclones and other disasters, the actions of the NDRF have been appreciated by the people. Their personnel are trained in rope rescue, flood rescue, collapsed structure search and rescue, and many other activities that help save lives during calamities.
19 January marks “The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Raising Day”. It is to recall the day this force was formed 16 years back. The NDRF came into existence on 19 January 2006. The specialised task force has been constituted for “special response to a threatening disaster situation or a disaster”. National Disaster Management Authority is the parent body of the NDRF. There are 12 NDRF battalions and 13,000 NDRF personnel Located at 12 different locations in the country. The team also have 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams. It was very heartening to note the induction of the first batch of 100 women disaster combatants and rescuers and deployed on the Ganga river banks in Garhmukteshwar town Uttar Pradesh for contingency duties. More women are likely to join the force in due course of time.
NDRF has earned a good reputation for its selfless service and unparalleled professionalism in disaster management. NDRF‘s 3100 expeditions have saved more than one lakh lives, and more than 6.7 lakh people have been rescued/rescued from disasters.
It is estimated that each year, India sees on an average of eight storms. At least two of them strengthen into true tropical cyclones. On average, a significant cyclone develops every other year. Recall the damage caused by Cyclone Fani in Odisha and Cyclone Vayu in Gujarat. In terms of wear and asset destruction, Cyclone Amphan, that struck West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh on 20 May 2020 is, as of that date, the worst in India in the 21st century. Almost 50 lakh people are left homeless in West Bengal, Odisha, and Bangladesh. Nearly a crore of people’s lives was disrupted by the cyclone.
The risk factors for outbreaks after disasters are associated primarily with population displacement. The availability of safe water and sanitation facilities and healthcare services’ availability influence the risk of infectious diseases during a disaster. NDRF personnel played important role in extinguishing wild fires in the Dzukou Valley at the Manipur-Nagaland border to extinguish raging wildfires. COVID pandemic did not deter the NDRF team in performing their duties. NDRF personnel were deployed to respond to Odisha’s floods. They put together 6 tons of relief materials to cyclone-hit Fiji.
The National Disaster Management Authority aims to build a safe and disaster-free India by developing a comprehensive, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for disaster management.
Even though natural disasters are beyond the control of human beings, several are a consequence of man-made activities. Thanks to the NDRF teams, who are always there risking their lives and saving many and assuring the friends and family members. A day like this is to recall their services, record our appreciation. Kudos to the NDRF Team.