A decision in this regard was on Wednesday cleared by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it approved the "conversion of two additional battalions of the border guarding Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) for strengthening of the existing National Disaster Response Force units."

The NDRF, which is undertaking salvage operations at present in quake-hit Nepal and some affected states of the country, currently has 10 battalions. The two new battalions will be based in Varanasi and Arunachal Pradesh.     

"The objective of the conversion of these two additional battalions of SSB into NDRF battalions is to provide response to the area of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh during any natural and man-made disaster and to enhance the capability of the existing NDRF battalions.

"The placement of two NDRF Battalions at Varanasi and Arunachal Pradesh will fill up the vast gap of deployment of the NDRF," an official release said.

NDRF, a force raised by bringing on deputation personnel from various paramilitary forces, is the first responder in case of any natural or man-made disasters and its units are deployed in various parts of the country for such emergencies.

Each NDRF battalion has a strength of 1,149 personnel and these men are armed with gadgets and devices used for mitigating and rescuing people affected by disasters.

At present the NDRF battalions are based in Guwahati (Assam), Kolkata (West Bengal), Cuttack (Odisha), Vellore (Tamil Nadu), Pune (Maharashtra), Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Bathinda (Punjab), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar) and Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh).

While other central forces like CRPF, ITBP, BSF and CISF have earlier earmarked two of their battalions for this special force, the SSB has now pooled in its workforce.

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