Dehradun: Overlooking the safety of people, the Centre has rejected the Uttarakhand government’s proposal to set up a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) battalion in the state. The UPA decision has come as a major setback to the state which is very much prone to landslides, earthquakes, cloud-bursting, heavy rainfall, snowfall and forest fires.

In a case of emergency, Uttarakhand is dependent on Uttar Pradesh (Noida) and Punjab (Chandigarh) to take the services of NDRF battalion. It takes a time span of six to seven hours for the NDRF battalion to reach the affected areas, which often accounts for the loss of life and property.

Keeping these factors in mind, the Uttarakhand government had sent a proposal in this regard and even identified a 30-acre land area in Haridwar for the purpose. The request was rejected by the Centre as it opined that there was no urgent need of NDRF battalion in the state. Albeit, the UPA has assured the state government to set up the battalion in future if the conditions called for it.

At a time of natural calamity, the Central government provides financial assistance from the Central Relief Fund. For the rescue operations, the Army, paramilitary forces and the NDRF are rushed to places affected by natural calamity.

Impressed by the performance of NDRF Jawans last year, the BJP government forwarded a proposal to the Centre to set up a battalion in the state.

According to sources, the Union Government has justified its action by claiming that in case of emergency the forces from Noida and Chandigarh can reach Uttarakhand in no time. Thus the arrangement will continue to be in place and the state will have to rely on ITBP for immediate disaster management.

Meanwhile, Khajan Das, Disaster Management Minister of Uttarakhand said, “We are still optimistic and would again request the Central government in this regard.”

(JPN/Bureau)