One battalion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), stationed at Arakkonam, will be available for the State to tackle any emergency during the northeast monsoon.

The battalion, with its strength of 1,400, is a multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and high-tech force for all types of disaster. It provides 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each, including engineers, dog squads and medical/paramedical staff.

The readiness of the NDRF was conveyed by the local authorities of the Force to the State government at a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary S. Malathi on Tuesday to review preparedness of the entire government machinery.

Giving an account of the deliberations of the meeting, K. Dhanavel, Revenue Secretary, said the Chief Secretary had given her approval to the request of Fire and Rescue Services Department for the purchase of various equipment and machinery to the tune of Rs. 5.5 crore.

A State-level Emergency Operation Centre has been established at Ezhilagam here and a toll free telephone number 1077 has become operational from October 1 for receiving information on disaster. Similarly, control rooms have been set up in all the districts with the toll free number operational round-the-clock. Officers of the Regional Meteorological Department told the meeting that the monsoon this time would be normal.

Its advent might be earlier than the usual date of October 20, the Revenue Secretary said, quoting the meteorological officers.

The meeting, which lasted nearly 40 minutes, was attended by Secretaries of a host of departments, apart from Defence officers.

Meanwhile, a low pressure area formed over the west central bay and the adjoining east central Bay of Bengal resulted in several localities of Chennai and its suburbs receiving showers on Tuesday.

The low pressure area is likely to become more marked on Wednesday and bring more rain to the city, according to officials of the Regional Meteorological department.

The department, an official said, was yet to declare the withdrawal of southwest monsoon as one more system is expected in about ten days.

Usually, the southwest monsoon continues till October second week. Only if the wind direction changes from the present westerlies to easterlies, could the onset of the northeast monsoon, which brings the major share of annual rainfall to the city, be expected, said Y.E.A.Raj, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre.

“There have been instances when the northeast monsoon had set in as early as October 4 as in 1999. But, we are not anticipating its onset for another week. We are able to predict the weather one week in advance due to the dynamic weather model,” he said.