It is because of the civic body’s delay in finding a suitable location for the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) formed by the Union government to handle emergencies such as building collapses, that it has no space to operate in the city.
When a building collapsed in Mahim on Monday, the NDRF team stationed in Pune reached five hours later. The situation was similar during the Mumbra building collapse, when the team had reached late.
However, despite realising the need for a specialised force, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been unable to find a location to station the teams in the city.
“NDRF requires 10,000 sqft built up area to accommodate their battalion. Such a vast space is difficult to find but the search is in progress,” said a senior civic official.
The central government in 2008 had directed all states vulnerable to terror attacks, to allot a place for NDRF teams in metro cities so they can spring into action at the earliest.
“Four years since the directive and seven months after state chief secretary held a meeting on this issue, a decision is still awaited. The BMC’s disaster management cell has failed to perform their duties,” said IC Sisodia, ex- vigilance officer, BMC, who had recently written a letter to the chief minister requesting him to intervene.
Sandeep Rathore, IG, NDRF said, “We are awaiting for a place to operate in the city. After we are allotted an area, three teams will be permanently deployed.”
Despite several calls, Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, BMC was unavailable to comment. “They will be deployed,” she replied to a text message later.
For monsoon, the civic body has sought help from NDRF asking them to deploy three teams in the city for rescue operations.