To comprise only civilians whose assistance will be taken by civil administration while dealing with disasters, writes R. Rajaram

Calamity – natural or manmade – calls for a skilled force to respond swiftly to handle and manage such grave crisis situations. A thoroughly skilled band of manpower from the community armed with necessary paraphernalia and exposed to latest aspects in disaster management is required to deal with rescue and relief operations with alacrity during emergencies.

Realising the need for such a skilled force in place to assist the civil administration when calamity strikes, the State government has proposed to establish civil defence units in Tiruchi and four other chosen places across Tamil Nadu.

The proposed non-uniformed force will comprise only civilians whose assistance would be taken by the civil administration while dealing with grave crisis situations.

The Central government has already allocated its share of fund for the formation of the civil defence units initially in Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Tiruchi, Madurai and Tirunelveli. The civil defence units would be started with 75 per cent funding from the State government and 25 per cent from the Centre.

Volunteers from the civil population would be recruited and imparted specialised training in a myriad of aspects connected with disaster management by personnel of the National Disaster Response Force.

Skilled personnel well-trained in trades, including machine operation would be handpicked to be members of the proposed civil defence units so as to act swiftly during natural or manmade calamity, says Additional Director General of Police K. Muthukaruppan, Director of Civil Defence and Additional Commandant General, Home Guards.

Training for the civil defence volunteers would be imparted at the respective district headquarters temporarily.

The volunteers would be taken to the civil defence training institute which would come up at Palani and imparted specialised training on a range of aspects connected with disaster management, ADGP Muthukaruppan said.

The government of India has sanctioned Rs.2 crore for setting up the civil defence training institute that would be established on the Tamil Nadu Special Police Battalion campus at Palani.

Periodic refresher courses would also be organised at the institute for the civil defence volunteers. The training syllabus for the volunteers has been drafted by a high-power committee constituted by the government of India.

The whole idea is to have a skilled band of civil population in a state of readiness to help the civil administration whenever natural or manmade calamity strikes, ADGP Muthukaruppan said adding that the volunteers would essentially be involved in rescue and relief operations.

The civil defence unit would function directly under the respective district Collector who would be the district controller of the unit. Though civil defence units were initially started in States bordering neighbouring nations, it was subsequently set up in other States too.