The Upper House on Tuesday, gave its nod for a Bill that empowers civil defence personnel to deal with disaster management work, apart from protecting people and their property in case of an attack. The Bill titled Civil Defence (Amendment) Bill, 2009, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 18.

Replying to queries from members, Minister of State for Home M. Ramachandran said the decision to strengthen civil defence was taken by the government after the Kargil war. The amendment will enhance public participation in relief operations after natural disasters.

The amendment in the Civil Defence Act, 1968 has expanded the role of civil defence by widening its scope to include measures to deal with disaster management before, during or after any calamity.

He said there was no infringement on the powers of the State governments who were consulted on the amendment.

Participating in the debate, D. Raja (CPI) wanted panchayats and local bodies to participate in civil defence, Viplov Thakur (Congress) wanted girl and boy scouts to be involved. Jaya Bachchan (SP) questioned the 41-year delay in bringing the amendment.

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