Officials said the team comprising about 45 personnel, equipped with basic combat gadgets and disaster rescue and relief paraphernalia, has been based in the Humhama area of Srinagar.
“A National Disaster Response Force team has been based full-time in the valley keeping in mind the disaster vulnerability profile and the seismic activity of the region. The massive floods of September, 2014 in the Kashmir Valley and the developments then are also an event at the back of the mind that led to the decision of having a team permanently in Srinagar,” a senior official said.
A proposal in this context was mooted by the NDRF headquarters here which was cleared by the Union home ministry recently. During the 2014 floods, NDRF teams had to be airlifted from various parts of the country for deployment in the valley and now by having a team in Srinagar, it is expected to cut down the first response time, the official said.
“During an emergency, the first responders used to be sent in on an aircraft to the valley but many times the weather is bad and for hours there can be no movement,” he said.
Therefore, the official added, the team in Srinagar would at least begin the first operations in the wake of any disaster, with help from local authorities and other security forces personnel present in good numbers in the Kashmir Valley.
The state government has also provided few vehicles to the team, which has experts like engineers, paramedics, technicians, electricians and rescue dogs along with trained rescuers.
In the NDRF establishment, a 45-member team is the smallest independent unit that can undertake relief, rescue and salvage operations. The team is entrusted with the responsibility to undertake disaster response operations in the entire Kashmir Valley and is presently based in a security forces camp, till they get a permanent infrastructure for themselves, the official said.
The NDRF was raised in 2006 as a special central force under the Union government for disaster response and relief operations. It has 12 battalions based in various parts of the country and the closest to Jammu and Kashmir are in Bathinda (Punjab) and Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh).
The force has also sent a proposal to the government to have a full battalion, with a strength of over 1,100 personnel, to be located in the northernmost state of the country.