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In a first, NDRF personnel to get forest fires tackling training

NEW DELHI: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has decided to start a first-ever comprehensive forest fire controlling and combat training for its personnel to mitigate the loss that takes place due to disaster which is both man-made and natural.

The force “will play an active role” in this disaster combat discipline and three of its teams will begin their training from February 6, NDRF director general (DG) Atul Karwal said at an event held here to mark the 18th Raising Day of the federal contingency force.

A parliamentary panel had last year expressed concern over forest fires not being officially part of disasters tackled by the specialised force.

“Forest fires are a growing threat globally now. The incidents of forest fires not only damage the forest resources but also damage biodiversity, cause climate change, adversely impact tribal livelihood and lead to severe distress among flora and fauna of forests,” the panel had said.

In view of the increase of these incidents in the country, it said, forest fires should be “expeditiously” added to the list of disasters tackled by the NDRF.

“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,” the panel said.

Karwal also said that the force was in touch with the ministry of environment and forests with regard to this training on tackling fires in the jungles.

The DG said eight more regional response centres (RRCs) for the NDRF will also be established across the country in the future.  The RRCs are locations that house small NDRF self-contained teams based at marked physical locations in various states that are vulnerable from the disaster point of view.

The force, raised this day in 2006, has a total of 16 battalions and 28 RRCs, comprising around 18,000 personnel in total, located at various places across the length and breadth of the country at present.

We have got a new land, about 60-65 acres, to base a battalion near Haldwani in Uttrakhand while land for a RRC in Chennai has also been sanctioned, the DG said.

The Assam government, I am informed informally, has also decided to sanction us land for our 1st battalion that is present in that state for about 16 years now, he said.

Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai, while officiating as the chief guest of the event, praised the role of the force in quickly responding to all types of catastrophes, even in the face of challenges.

You have shown courage and worked without caring for facilities and without “caring for your respect” and you have gone beyond your call of duty…we saw especially during cyclone Amphan (2020)…the NDRF did everything to save Bengal, he said.

Though probably it got “negative support” during cyclone Amphan…the NDRF never thought about anything and said if there is a prediction it will be prepared, Rai said without elaborating on the non-cooperation part. PTI


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