Context: Recently, NDRF conducted rescue operations after an Air India Express flight crash-landed in Kerala’s Kozhikode.

Origin of NDRF

  •  National Disaster Management Act, 2005
    • Disaster Management Act in 2005 was passed as a much-needed step towards determining responsibility and accountability for disaster response. 
      • These issues were highlighted by major calamities like the 2001 earthquake and the 2004 tsunami.


Provisions in the DM act,2005 :

  • The law laid down a legal framework for disaster response at the national, state, and district levels.
  • The Act paved the way for establishing Disaster Management Authorities at the national, state, and district levels .
  • It also provided for setting up the National Disaster Response and Mitigation Funds, and the formation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • The National Disaster Management Authority is chaired by the Prime Minister.


The constitution of NDRF and its structure

  • Personnel:
    • The NDRF was raised in 2006, initially with eight battalions, and now has 12 spread across the country
    • Each battalion, which has a sanctioned strength of 1,150 rescuers, caters to particular states as their areas of responsibility. 
    • In case required, teams from other battalions are also moved for emergency response.
    • The NDRF gets personnel and officers on deputation from the Central Armed Police Force(CAPF) for a period of seven years. After serving their tenure, personnel go back to their force.
  • Training
    • After personnel and officers are deputed to the NDRF, they undergo a first responder course for five months. 
    • Later on, sections of personnel get advanced specialized training in 
      • Deep diving, 
      • Special search and rescue, 
      • Collapsed structure search and rescue, 
      • Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear emergencies, and also 
      • Psycho-social intervention. 
    • Some of the personnel further undergo specialized training with national and international institutions including those on chemical and biological warfare situations.
  • Structure:
    • Battalions are divided into rescue teams which are self-contained emergency response units.
    • These units contain specialist search and rescue groups, engineering, technical, electrical experts along with dog squads, and paramedics. 
  • Regulation:
    • NDRF functions under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and is headed by a Director-General.

Diverse role of NDRF

  • The strategies of preemptive availability and pre-positioning of teams anticipating emergency situations, facilitated by the nationwide presence of its battalions, has made sure that damages are contained. 
  • The NDRF is equipped and trained to handle a range of difficulties, from borewell accidents to chemical, biological and radioactive emergencies.
  • NDRF has conducted relief, rescue, evacuation operations during all the major natural or man-made disasters in the country, including floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, structure collapses, and even some cases of retrieval or radiological materials. 
  • NDRF teams have also responded to road and train accidents, and also boat capsizes.

Way ahead

  • Upgrading technology:
    • While the NDRF has been able to keep upgrading its technology, still more needs to be done. 
    • For example, the agency acquired Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the past, but officials say an all weather UAV which can even function in extreme conditions is the need of the hour. 
    • The NDRF also requires upgraded versions of life detection systems, which will further enhance capabilities during structure collapse responses.
  • While the NDRF will remain the main national agency, there is an urgent need to build efficient State Disaster Response Forces (SDRFs) across states.