With monsoon around the corner, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is preparing to face the twin challenge of coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) and floods in different parts of the country. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a normal monsoon, which is expected to hit Kerala on June 1.
“During the coming rainy season, managing the situation in areas that have been reporting COVID-19 cases, particularly in the hotspot and containment zones, will be an uphill task. It is a season of cyclones, rains and floods. Given the forecast, it will require more preparation,” said a senior NDRF official.
There is a chance of above normal rain in August and September, according to the IMD.
Over the past week, the NDRF has been working on an action plan to meet all possible exigencies. The top brass has been briefing the field formations on measures to be taken. The organisation has been in constant touch with the IMD and the local administration in the respective States.
Assam, which witnesses heavy rains and flash floods during monsoon, leading to several deaths and displacement of lakhs of people in the affected areas, had asked for monsoon pre-deployment of NDRF teams.
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“Response teams in other States are awaiting further instructions. It is an unprecedented situation wherein more than 90% resources will have to be mobilised. Last year, when the country recorded the best monsoon over the past 25 years, 200 of the 216 teams had to be deployed in close to 20 States for rescue and relief operations. Before that, we also responded well to Cyclone Fani which had hit eastern India in the first week of May 2019,” said the official.
The NDRF has taken note of the latest IMD warning of the likely formation of a low pressure area over the south Andaman Sea and the neighbourhood around April 30, which is likely to intensify into a depression during the subsequent 48 hours, triggering moderate and heavy to extreme rainfall in isolated areas.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, NDRF teams in several States joined the local administration in implementing the preventive measures and distributing essentials, including medical supplies. They also stepped in to alleviate the problems faced by thousands of stranded migrant labourers, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
“In Bihar, the teams have been actively engaged in the containment and hotspot zones, while in other States, they are organising public outreach programmes, apart from training the staff of various agencies on the protocols to be followed to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the official said.
The NDRF is a part of the control rooms set up in the States on the directions of the Union Home Ministry to supervise lockdown measures .