| NDMA member K.M. Singh speaks at the workshop in Guwahati on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Aug. 22: The Centre has decided to station another battalion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the Northeast in view of the regionís vulnerability to natural disasters.
Addressing a workshop on Earthquake Scenario: Multi-State Exercise For Northeast here today, K.M. Singh, member of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said the second NDRF battalion is likely to be based somewhere in Upper Assam or Silchar. At present, the lone NDRF battalion in the Northeast is stationed at Patgaon on the outskirts of Guwahati.
The presence of a second battalion in the region is expected to cut down on the time required for NDRF personnel to travel to certain areas from Guwahati in the event of a disaster. Singh said three companies of NDRF would also be permanently posted in Itanagar, Aizawl and Gangtok. Moreover, a disaster response team would also be stationed in Tripura, he added.
The move comes in the wake of the Uttarakhand tragedy, which has driven home the need to post NDRF personnel close to places of potential devastation. This region is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and earthquake since it falls in Seismic Zone V ó the most earthquake-prone zone.
The Himalayan seismic belt, extending from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, is a seismically active region. During 53 years ó between 1897 and 1950 ó four earthquakes (Shillong 1897, Kangra 1905, Bihar-Nepal 1934 and Assam 1950), exceeding 8 on the Richter scale occurred in the region. Assam revenue and disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi stressed the need for making people aware about the risks of earthquakes and measures to mitigate them.
The two-day workshop, organised by NDMA in collaboration with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, is a lead up event to a mega simulation exercise scheduled for February next year.
During the exercise, the 1897 Shillong quake, which had a magnitude of 8.7 on the Richter scale, will be simulated in order to assess its impact on the present day. The drill has been designed to assess the state of preparedness, efficacy of response, teamwork, inter-agency co-ordination and awareness generation in all the northeastern states.
NDMA members Harsh K. Gupta and J.K. Sinha, Assam chief secretary P.P. Varma, Arunachal Pradesh chief secretary H.K. Paliwal, Assam additional chief secretary Subhash Chandra Das, ASDMA chief executive officer Ajay Tewari and member of North Eastern Council P. P. Shrivastav, among others, attended the workshop.
Senior NDMA officers, personnel from the army, Assam police, fire services, civil defence, NDRF, among other agencies, participated in the workshop at the Administrative Staff College in Khanapara here.