The central government is planning to enhance the deputation period of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel to 10 years in order to strengthen and stabilise the force.
This move comes at a time when several teams of the specialised disaster response force are battling against all odds to rescue stranded labourers and retrieve bodies from the December 29 cave-in at Lalmatia mine in Jharkhand.
“As of now, the NDRF takes personnel on deputation for five years – and that includes a training period of almost three years. Therefore, the personnel get only two years to exhibit their life-saving skills. A longer tenure of 10 years will give them seven additional years in the force after training, and the force will not have to look for replacements frequently,” said a senior home ministry official on the condition of anonymity.
The NDRF has become the most visible face of disaster response and management in the country since its inception in 2006 with eight battalions. At present, it has 12 battalions of 1,149 personnel each.
The force gets 20% new recruits every year, and its personnel cannot serve beyond the age of 45. “We have to keep the force in fighting-fit mode, and only trained personnel of a comparatively young age can cope with challenges posed by the job. Therefore, we will have to preserve the deputationist structure of the force – wherein people will come on deputation for 10 years and go back to their parent outfits after turning 45,” the official said.
A parliamentary panel had also recommended enhancement of the NDRF personnel’s deputation tenure.
The NDRF has retrieved 19 bodies from the Lalmatia mine till now, and a search is on for over 60 labourers still trapped under the rubble.