After decade, Himachal Pradesh gets its own disaster response force

Published on Jul 09, 2022 12:03 PM IST
State Disaster Response Force headquarters to be set up in Kangra, two more centres to come up in Mandi and Shimla
National Disaster Response Force personnel engaged in rescue work after a cloudburst at Manikaran in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh on July 6. (HT file photo)
National Disaster Response Force personnel engaged in rescue work after a cloudburst at Manikaran in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh on July 6. (HT file photo)

Caught in red-tape for a decade, Himachal Pradesh, which is prone to natural disasters, has finally got its own state disaster response force (SDRF).

Also watch: Survivors narrate horror after Amarnath cloudburst; 16 dead, 40 still missing

Himachal Pradesh Police have drawn 102 personnel from their battalions for the SDRF. The Kangra district administration has transferred 11.5 acres near Dharamshala for setting up the SDRF station, which will comprise 64 police personnel. The SDRF headquarters in Kangra has been temporarily set up in Palampur and will be headed by a deputy superintendent of police.

“Another 11.5 acres have been earmarked for SDRF infrastructure at Bathli in Mandi district. As many as 55 police personnel will comprise the SDRF in Mandi. The government has allotted 35 bighas (11.5 acres) for SDRF on the outskirts of Shimla town in Kutasani, where 27 police personnel trained in disaster management relief and rescue will be stationed permanently. If need be, more personnel will be inducted,” said Sudesh Mokhta, the director, State Disaster Management Authority.

Will strengthen state response to disasters

Two years ago, the government had allocated 5 crore to the police department for buying equipment for rescue, while 60 crore was allotted for the training of the personnel. “In future, the state will have its own dedicated SDRF, we will strengthen it,” Mokhta said.

Vulnerable to natural disasters, the Himachal Pradesh government had in 2011 drawn a plan to set up its own state disaster response force following the National Disaster Management Authority’s directions to all states to have its own force for carrying out rescue works.

In 2013, following the floods in Kinnaur, the then Congress government had asked all departments concerned to speed up the process to set up an SDRF. The state police had then come up with a plan to raise three companies of SDRF – one each in Pandoh of Mandi, Dharamshala and Shimla – but it never saw the light of the day.

Overall higher vulnerability of Himachal

Himachal Pradesh is prone to natural disasters. The districts of Chamba, Kinnaur, Kullu and parts of Kangra and Shimla are in the highly vulnerable category.

Kangra, Mandi, Una, Shimla and Lahaul and Spiti districts fall in the highly vulnerable risk status.

The districts of Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Solan and Sirmour fall in moderately vulnerable risk category.

Disaster management strategies and infrastructure are evolved by taking the category into consideration.

The districts of Chamba, Kullu, Kinnaur and part of Kangra and Shimla districts are highly prone to landslides, while Kangra, Mandi, Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmour and Lahaul-Spiti districts fall in the moderate vulnerable category. The districts in the low vulnerable category are Una, Hamirpur and Solan.

The avalanche hazard vulnerability data compiled by SDMA suggests that the districts of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur are highly vulnerable followed by Chamba, Kullu and parts of Kangra and Shimla that are moderately vulnerable.

The flood hazard vulnerability data indicates that areas in the districts of Chamba, Kullu, Una and Kinnaur fall in the highly vulnerable category, whereas Lahaul-Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Solan and Sirmour are in the moderate and low vulnerability category.

RECENT FLASH FLOODS IN HIMACHAL

July 6, 2022: One killed four missing after a cloudburst triggered flash floods at Manikaran in Kullu, and two missing after a car falls into Beas river at Babeli in Kullu.

July 28, 2021: At least 15 killed, including 10 in Lahaul-Spiti and five in Kullu, in flash floods due to heavy rain.

July 12, 2021: Flash floods wreak havoc in Dharamshala’s Bhasunag and Chetru area, sweeping away houses, and shops. Floods in downstream Beas damage land and property.

August 10, 2019: Property worth crores damaged in flash floods triggered by cloudburst in Kinnaur.

September 23, 2018: Three people killed after the Beas river washed away a tourist bus and truck parked near Manali in Kullu. Property worth crores damaged.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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