‘Aapda Mitra’ to be extended across the State

4,300 volunteers to be trained

September 20, 2021 07:36 pm | Updated 07:36 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) is all set to extend the Centrally sponsored Aapda Mitra community volunteer programme across the State.

Aimed at training physically fit members of the public to quickly and effectively respond to disasters, the programme was piloted in Kottayam district with 200 volunteers in 2018.

Now, Aapda Mitra would be extended to the rest of the State with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which was funding the programme, seeking to scale it up at the national level, KSDMA officials said.

In Kerala, 4,300 volunteers would undergo the 12-day intensive training. The community volunteers would also be equipped with disaster management kits containing emergency lamps, helmets, gum boots, safety goggles, and life jackets. The pilot programme had consisted only men, but the upcoming phase would also include women volunteers.

“We hope to begin the selection and training soon. Aapda Mitra is founded on the fact that members of the public are invariably the first responders in any disaster. But they lack the necessary skills to deal with the situations that arise, which is where we come in,” a senior KSDMA official said.

Physically fit members of the public between the ages of 18 and 40, with at least Class VII education, would be eligible for selection. Another condition would be that they should be residents of the districts concerned.

At the national level, the NDMA had piloted the programme with 6,000 volunteers in 30 flood-prone districts of 25 states/Union Territories. In scaling up the programme, the NDMA was planning to cover 350 districts with one lakh volunteers who would be trained to respond to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, cyclones, and earthquakes, the officials said.

In Kerala, the volunteers would be provided training under the aegis of the District Disaster Management Authorities. In the pilot programme in Kottayam, the 200 volunteers had been linked up with eight Fire and Rescue Stations for quick mobilisation during disasters.

The number of volunteers in each district would depend on the district-level population, according to the KSDMA. The State government nominated Sekhar L. Kuriakose, member secretary, KSDMA, for coordinating the activities with the NDMA.

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