Gorkhatimes

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Disaster cell after Jaswant plea

Posted by Ramesh Khati on June 26, 2009

A file picture of the National Disaster Response Force at work in Darjeeling after Cyclone Aila struck in May, triggering landslides

A file picture of the National Disaster Response Force at work in Darjeeling after Cyclone Aila struck in May, triggering landslides

Darjeeling, June 25: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has decided to post a response force here following a request from Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) which is drawn from the paramilitary forces are currently located at only eight centres across the country — Guwahati, Calcutta, Bhubaneshwar, Arakkonam near Chennai, Pune, Gandhinagar, Bhatinda and Greater Nodia.

General (retd) N.C. Vij, the vice-chairman of the NDMA in a letter to Singh, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, said: “I may also mention here that we are shortly positioning a team of the NDRF in Darjeeling to ensure ready availability of rescue and relief effort.”

Vij has maintained that a cabinet note (for government approval) was also being prepared to station two battalions each at Patna and Vijayawada.

The NDRF has been constituted as a specialist force for disaster response under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005. “It is a multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled force with highly skilled training and state of the art equipment of international standards for providing prompt and effective response to any natural and man-made disaster situation including nuclear, biological and chemical emergencies,” Vij has written.

The decision to post a trained team in Darjeeling comes after Singh, the MP who won the Lok Sabha election with support from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, met Vij following the May 26 landslides which killed 29 people in the hills. At that time, an NDRF team had come from Guwahati to conduct a search operation in Darjeeling.

The NDMA is also looking at long term measures and has told Singh that it is preparing a Detailed Project Report for a National Landslide Mitigation Project.

On the national level the NDMA is also looking at co-ordinating the activities of the Geological Survey of India, with the ministry of surface transport. “As you are aware the preparation of any medium term or long term mitigation plan requires multi-disciplinary specialised inputs. The Geological Survey of India, which is the nodal agency for the management of landslides in the country, is under the administrative control of the ministry of mines. GSI has therefore been requested to associate itself with the representatives of the Ministry of Surface Transport in the preparation of medium and long term mitigation measures,” the letter reads.

A GSI team visited the Darjeeling hills soon after the killer landslides struck.

Amar Lama, a central committee member of the Morcha, said: “We welcome Jaswant Singh’s initiative and the prompt response of the NDMA to his appeal.”

Source: Telegraph Kolkata

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