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Guwahati: Assam is building an exclusive State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to tackle and mitigate disaster-like situation in three major towns of Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar.
The new force similar to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would be ready in the current year to tackle disaster like fire, earthquake and floods in urban areas.
A senior Assam Fire Services official said the SDRF is being formed keeping in mind the recent earthquakes and the major towns turning into disaster-prone areas.
“The SDRF will comprise of trained manpower equipped with facilities to tackle and mitigate any kind of disaster. Initially it will start working in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar and later expected to be extended to other towns of the state,” the official said.
He said increasing number of high rise buildings, narrow roads and increase in population in urban areas have turned major towns of the state more prone to disaster like fire.
The development comes amid 10 earthquakes that shaked the Northeast including parts of the state in the current year. Similarly, incidents of fire have also gone up in urban areas of the state. The North eastern region including Assam is sitting on seismically active Zone V and there are fears of large scale devastation in case of a major earthquake.
The official said the State Fire Service Organisation (SFRO) has received 18,008 fire calls from across the state in the last 10-years of which 2499 were major fire incidents. As many as 325 people have died and 596 people sustained burn injury during disasters.
Even as fire incidents have increased, manpower crunch and insufficient number of fire stations has come as constraints. The state has 90 fire stations against the requirement of 1400 to tackle fire incidents.
“According to a study, every 10 sq-kilometers in urban areas require a fire station while in rural area it should be in every 50 sq-kilometers. But Assam is lagging far behind, particularly in urban areas. There is also shortage of manpower. We have 1730 personnel at present and have sought another 800 staff form the government,” the official said.