Context: More than 50,000 Civil Defence Volunteers are working at the grassroots level in various roles and capacities to assist the local administration in implementing the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
More about the news:
- Civil Defence personnel have been deployed in all the States and most Union Territories, barring Ladakh, Daman & Diu, and Puducherry.
- Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Assam have taken the lead in using their services.
About Civil Defence:
- Civil Defence operates under the Civil Defence Act and associated rules and regulations.
- The Act was amended in 2009 and a notification was issued in 2010 to include disaster management as an additional role.
- Although it is a Central law, Section 4 of the Civil Defence Act empowers State governments to raise corps at the local administration level as per their requirement.
- The District Magistrate, District Collector or Deputy Commissioner is designated as Controller of the Civil Defence.
How are these volunteers helping?
- As they are from within the community, they are extending the policies, facilities and services of the government up to the block level.
- The Civil Defence personnel are supplementing the local administration in conducting surveillance of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- They have been working as rapid response teams.
- The volunteers are also manning hunger helplines and assisting elderly citizens.
- They are helping in the maintenance of essential supplies, like packing and home distribution of ration and medicines.
- The volunteers are supplementing health workers and also carrying out community awareness drives on social distancing and hygiene practices.
- Besides, they are being roped in for distribution of PPEs, masks and sanitisers and setting up community kitchens and shelters for migrant workers and other stranded persons.
Civil Defence Volunteer
Civil Defence aims at saving life, minimising damage to the property and maintaining continuity of industrial production in the event of an hostile attack.
- The Civil Defence Policy of the Government of India till the declaration of emergency in 1962, was confined to making the States and Union Territories conscious of the need of civil protection measures and to ask them to keep ready civil protection plans for major cities and towns under the then Emergency Relief Organisation (ERO) scheme.
- Chinese aggression in 1962 and Indo-Pak conflict in 1965 led to a considerable re-thinking about the policy and scope of Civil Defence.
- As a result, the Civil Defence Policy as it exists today, was evolved and Civil Defence legislation was enacted in the Parliament in 1968.
- To meet the challenges of the day such as climate change, the Civil Defence Act was suitably amended by the Civil Defence (Amendment) Act, 2009.
- This has led to inclusion of disaster management as an additional role for the Civil Defence Corps, while retaining its primary role.
Major Tasks of Civil Defence
- To make sure that the public is warned of danger and provided with instructions on how to avoid hazards.
- Advice people to protect themselves by either evacuating the area or remain and take shelter.
- Organizing immediate relief to the survivors.
- Support emergency services
- Rescue operations
- Law enforcement
- Medical care
- Public works repair
- Provision of voluntary Food, Shelter and Clothing.
- Assist in recovery operations
- Clearance of Debris
- Restoring utility services
- Managing relocations centers
Structure of Civil Defence administration in the country:
- At the national level, the Director General, Civil Defence under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is responsible for formulating Civil Defence policies and for coordination.
- In the states, the Civil Defence set-up is headed by a senior police officer designated as the Director, Civil Defence.
- At the district level, the District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of a district is designated Controller of Civil Defence.
Civil Defence Volunteers:
Civil Defence is primarily organised on a voluntary basis except for a small nucleus of paid staff and establishment which is augmented during emergencies.
Eligibility for becoming a Civil Defence Volunteer:
- A person who intends to apply for appointment to a Civil Defence Corps must fulfill the following conditions;
- s/he shall be a citizen of India, or a subject of Sikkim or of Bhutan or of Nepal.
- s/he shall have completed the age of 18 years provided that this age limit may be relaxed at the discretion of the competent authority up to a maximum of 3 years for any branch or category of the Corps.
- s/he shall have passed at least the primary standard, that is to say, the fourth class, and this condition may be relaxed by the Controller at this discretion.
- Both men and women shall be eligible for appointment to the Corps.
- A person shall not be entitled to be appointed to the Corps unless he is found to be physically fit and mentally alert.
- Any service in the National Volunteer Force and in the Armed Forces of the Union shall be a special qualification.
Process to become a Civil Defence Volunteer:
- Every person eligible for appointment under regulation shall be required to apply in Form 'A' and also present himself for interview before the competent authority.
- A candidate shall be enrolled as a member, for an initial period of 3 years, which may be extended more than once each time after a period of 3 years.
- Members of the Corps may be called on duty for the following purposes. During such occasions, a nominal incentive as per existing norms is provided.
- practice or exercises
- perform the duties assigned to them by order under the regulations