Y. Mallikarjun

HYDERABAD: A National Disaster Response Force, comprising eight battalions, each to be stationed in different parts of the country, is to be formed at the earliest.

This was stated by M. Shashidhar Reddy, member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), at a press conference here on Sunday. Its personnel would be drawn from various Central paramilitary forces and each of the battalions would be located, among others, at Bhubaneshwar, Nagpur, Chennai, Chandigarh and in West Bengal and Gujarat.

Mr. Reddy said State Governments have also been asked to set up such response teams, apart from establishing Disaster Management Authorities at State and district levels.

The workshop felt that institutional mechanisms should be put in place up to the village-level as part of the disaster management strategy. Stressing the need for a paradigm shift from the rescue and relief-centred approach of States to disaster mitigation, he said a study in the U.S. had revealed mitigation efforts would help in saving $4 for every dollar spent on relief and rescue.

In this context, he pointed out that a $300-million World Bank-funded National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project, which was proposed to be implemented four years ago in all 13 cyclone-prone coastal States and Union Territories, was not finalised as the majority of States/UTs were yet to send the proposals. Only four States had forwarded proposals to the Home Ministry which had signed an agreement for Project Preparation Facility in 2005 and issued guidelines for preparing the project. Guidelines in this regard would be evolved by the authority.