The State Government will soon set up disaster management units in 12,600 schools in the State, bringing together students from the National Cadet Corps (NCC), the National Service Scheme (NSS) and Scouts and Guide units, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran has said.

Inaugurating the 28th Annual State Conference of the Kerala Fire Services Association here on Saturday, the Minister said the students would be imparted training by experts in disaster management. The training would be completed by December 31. The plan was to enhance these units in a phased manner with further training and equipment from the next academic year onwards, for which the State would allow financial assistance.

The Government would also impart training in disaster management and relief works to 10,000 policemen across the State. Youngsters, who are members of local arts and sports clubs, those working in various youth organizations and movements like the Kudumbasree would also be trained in the field to set up and operate disaster management work forces in 1,600 villages in the State as well, Mr. Rajendran said.

The media would also be encouraged to spread awareness on disaster management and to encourage those working sincerely in times of calamities, the Minister said, adding that awards would be presented

to the best reportage and photographs of disaster management-related issues. The photography award would be instituted in the name of the late Victor George, a senior photographer of the Malayala Manorama daily, who lost his life in a landslide caused by torrential rains in Idukki district in July 2001. Awards would also be presented to the best relief workers as well, he said.

Writer-orator Sukumar Azhikode delivered the keynote address while Association State president K.K. Surendran presided over.

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