Monday, September 27, 2021


Himachal starts process to set up its own state disaster response force

Yadavindra S Rana | August 27, 2021 02:41 PM

CHANDIGARH:At last the Himachal Pradesh government has woken up to the danger of disasters in
the state and the issue is on the priority agenda of the government. If all goes well the state will
have its own State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and a separate disaster management directorate.
Wake up to the call of landslides recently the principal secretary, Revenue, Onkar Sharma and
Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu held a meeting to work out the modalities for setting up a
dedicated response force for the state.
The state government once again started the process to set up a State Disaster Response
Force (SDRF) which could not see the light of the day due to bureaucratic red tapism. Sources in the
government stated that it was decided to set up three companies of the SDRF in the state. It is also
stated that the police department has already purchased necessary equipments for carrying out
rescue operations in case of disaster. On part of the government, 356 posts of police personnel
including technical staff have been approved for the purpose.
The official also revealed that on the directions of the National Disaster
Management Authority to have SDRF in all states, the government of Himachal Pradesh
prepared a proposal to have SDRF in 2011. It was also pleaded that most parts of the State
fall in the high sensitive zone of earth quakes and prone to landslides. The proposal has been
handing fire for the past 10 years. .
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. It was also felt that the state
did not have its own dedicated SDRF for proper and immediate handling and tackling any
disaster and the state depended on SDRF stationed in other states.
Himachal Pradesh falls in seismic zone five, making it prone to high-intensity
earthquakes. Besides, calamities such as cloudburst, flashfloods, landslides, forest fires and
avalanches are common in the hill state and increase the worries of the people and the
government. Recently, the state has also seen heavy rain, floods, cloudbursts, landslides and
related incidents that have claimed over 309 lives in the state. Besides, the state has also
witnessed loss of property to the tune of Rs 876.54 crore, owing to these disasters. But every
time a disaster strikes, the state is forced to seek help from the National Disaster Response
Force, paramilitary and army for relief and rescue operations. Across the country, as many as
23 states have already set up SDMA.
Keeping the huge loss of life and property due to various disasters, SDRF has
become a necessity for the state. The state government should also upgrade the technology
with latest equipments such as incorporate Geographical Information System (GIS) and
acquisition of drone to facilitate exact location of disaster and help in evaluating the impact
of damage.

As many as 43 people have died in Shimla, 31 each in Kangra and Chamba and
29 each Sirmaur. Heavy rains have damaged more than 800 houses and 550 cowsheds across,
and 16 shops across the state. More than 580 cattle head have been lost.

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