Years after bearing the brunt of natural disasters, Himachal Pradesh will finally have its own State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).
To begin with, three companies comprising 300 jawans of 3rd police battalion stationed at Pandoh in Mandi district would be given operational level training for disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building.
The decision was taken at the meeting of State Disaster Management Authority chaired by chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
"We have sent several reminders for setting up the National Disaster Response Force battalion at Nurpur. But, there has been no response, so we have now decided to create our own force," he told Hindustan Times after the meeting.
Rolling out a road map, Virbhadra Singh said that dedicated team of 30 jawans from home guards would be given adequate and regular training and would be deployed in each district to act promptly during any disaster. The equipment required to be used during disasters would be made available from the tehsil level onwards.
Raising concern over the Thalout incident in which 24 engineering students from Hyderabad were swept away along with their tour operator, the chief minister directed the department concerned for erecting bilingual hoardings carrying warnings at vulnerable points mainly near the riverbeds or the areas prone to landslides.
All Himalayan rivers are perennial and it should be ensured that warning boards be erected at all vulnerable points along the riverbeds, besides fencing the areas if possible, placing a police guard at such places, said he.
Modern warning systems with GPRS be put on place so that in the event of any mishap or disaster in the particular area, the people around could receive the SMSes instantly.
He also stressed upon orderly parking of vehicles in secretariat complex and other such areas of public congregation so that in case of any eventuality, the fire tenders or rescue vehicles may not have to face hurdles. He directed for expediting the work of parking near the secretariat.
The chief minister said that if any mishap happens within the state, adequate compensation may also be provided to non-Himachalis or their kin, if they fall victim to mishaps or disasters.
Pre-disaster planning has become crucial for an efficient response at the time of a disaster. Optimal utilization of scarce resources for rescue, relief and rehabilitation is possible only with detailed planning and preparation, said he.
He expressed satisfaction over activation of control rooms at district and sub-divisional level and asked the authorities to keep them on track all time.
Health and revenue minister Kaul Singh Thakur, who is also co-chairperson of the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (HPSDMA), Rajinder Rana, vice-chairman of the SDMA, also stressed for using latest techniques and warning systems during post and pre-disaster management. They also stressed the need to create more awareness at the school level.