The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is a specialised force constituted “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. :section 44–45 The “Apex Body for Disaster Management” in India is the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The Chairman of the NDMA is the Prime Minister.
The responsibility for Disaster Management in India’s federal system is that of the State Government. The ‘nodal Ministry’ in the central government for management of natural disasters is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
When ‘calamities of severe nature’ occur, the Central Government is responsible for providing aid and assistance to the affected state, including deploying, at the State’s request, of Armed Forces, Central Paramilitary Forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and such communication, air and other assets, as are available and needed.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is under the National Disaster Management Authority. The head of the NDRF is designated as Director General. The Director Generals of NDRF are IPS officers on deputation from Indian police organisations. Director General wears the uniform and badges of rank of an army three-star general.
The NDRF is a top-heavy organisation which in addition to the Director General has several Inspector Generals (IG) and Deputy Inspector Generals (DIG), who fly flags and wear army-style badges of rank.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is a force of 12 battalions, organised on para-military lines, and manned by persons on deputation from the para-military forces of India: three Border Security Force, three Central Reserve Police Force, two Central Industrial Security Force, two Indo-Tibetan Border Police and two Sashastra Seema Bal. The total strength of each battalion is approximately 1149. Each battalion is capable of providing 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers, technicians, electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics.
NDRF in addition to being able to respond to natural disasters has four battalions capable of responding to radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.
- Director General (Level 16 / 17 Non Gazetted)
- Inspector General (Level 14 Non Gazetted)
- Deputy Inspector General (Level 13A Non Gazetted)
- Senior Commandant (Level 13 Non Gazetted)
- Commandant (Level 12 Non Gazetted)
- Deputy Commandant (Level 10 / 11 Non Gazetted)
- Assistant Commandant (Level 7 / 8 / 9 Non Gazetted)
- Inspector (Level 6 Gazetted Officer)
- Sub Inspector (Level 4 / 5 Non Gazetted)
- Assistant Sub Inspector (Level 3 Non Gazetted)
- Head Constable (Level 2 Non Gazetted)
- Constable (Level 1 Non Gazetted)
Major Disasters in India (1980–2009)
These NDRF battalions are located at twelve different locations in the country based on the vulnerability profile to cut down the response time for their deployment. During the preparedness period/in a threatening disaster situation, proactive deployment of these forces will be carried out by the NDMA in consultation with state authorities. The present location of NDRF Bns are as follows:
The aim of the National Disaster Management Authority is to build a safer and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology driven strategy for disaster management. This has to be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters. This national vision inter alia, aims at inculcating a culture of preparedness among all stakeholders.
NDRF has proved its importance in achieving this vision by highly skilled rescue and relief operations, regular and intensive training and re-training, familiarisation exercises within the area of responsibility of respective NDRF Bns, carrying out mock drills and joint exercises with the various stakeholders.
NDRF has proved its efficacy with its commendable performance during various disasters including the drowning cases, building collapses, landslides, devastating floods and Cyclones. NDRF has saved 1,33,192 human lives and retrieved 276 dead bodies of disaster victims in 73 response operations in the country.
In the future, the key to efficient disaster response will depend primarily on the effectiveness of the training and re-training of Specialised Disaster Response Forces. With this vision, a detailed “Training Regime for Disaster Response” has been prepared by NDMA/NDRF identifying the specific disaster response training courses and devising a unified, structured and uniform course module as well as a syllabus for these training courses. The proposition behind a unified, structured, uniform course module and syllabus is that first the entire NDRF battalions will successfully attain these courses and subsequently the State Disaster Response Forces (SDRF) and other stakeholders will be trained on the same lines. The need for a uniformly structured course module emerged from the fact that if all the NDRF battalions and other ‘first responders’ undergo the same training exercise, the coordination between different stakeholders would be expedient and well planned at the time of any major disaster where different NDRF battalions, SDRF battalions and other stakeholders will be working together in close coordination with each other.