Kochi: National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has been working for strengthening regional-level cooperation for a quick and efficient response to natural calamities, its director Satya Narayana Pradhan has said. The endeavour will be to leverage strengths of the countries in the region with similar geographical features for better coordination, Mr Pradhan, who was on a visit to Kochi, said.
"We are now one of the best forces in the world, with experience in managing earthquakes, floods and cyclones efficiently. We are already sharing our expertise with others," Mr Pradhan said.
Recently, India hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting on urban disaster handling, involving a joint exercise on earthquake search and rescue. Apart from India, the SCO has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan as members.
NDRF, formed in 2005 now has 12 battalions with 1,149 soldiers in each. Mr Pradhan who took charge two months ago as director has been making a host of initiatives, including a massive deployment of technology-driven disaster response. NDRF is now the largest singular and spec ialised disaster response force in the world.
On the recommendation of a joint parliamentary committee headed by former minister P. Chidambaram seeking freedom to the NDRF to act instantly when a disaster strikes, Mr Pradhan said, "It would help improve our operational capabilities in a big way."
The NDRF is also planning to form a voluntary army taking the example of the role played by fishers in Kerala in rescue operations the century's second-worst floods in the state a year ago. Other plans included warehouses of rescue and relief materials in all districts for instant support not waiting for the movement of forces as seen during floods.
"We are thinking about creating an army of trained and certified volunteers across the country," Mr Pradhan, a recipient of UK‘s Queen's Award for Innovation in Policing, said.
The NDRF had rescued over 115,000 lives and evacuated over 580,000 stranded people in India and abroad since its formation, Mr Pradhan said....