No disaster response units for TN, UP N-plants

No disaster response units for TN, UP N-plants

Several other states have full-fledged relief teams

No disaster response units for TN, UP N-plants

In what could raise concerns about preparedness in off-site accidents near nuclear power plants, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have not yet agreed to station state disaster response teams in the vicinity of such facilities. 

The issue was brought up by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) during the annual conference of relief commissioners and secretaries held last week in the capital.

Karnataka, which has a nuclear plant in Kaiga, Maharashtra (Tarapur), Gujarat (Kakrapar) and Rajasthan (Rawatbhata) have agreed “in-principle” to station trained State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel near their nuclear power plants, the agency said at the meeting.

The disaster management system in the plant is under the direct supervision of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Body. The SDRF is proposed to be deployed outside the plant to execute quick rescue operations in case of nuclear-related accidents, such as a radiation leak. 

In its presentation, the NDMA said deployment of SDRF teams close to nuclear plants will aid response in off-site emergencies.

These teams are equipped to tackle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) disasters.  Such a mechanism will enhance disaster response capacity in nearby districts. 

“The governments of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are requested to kindly reconsider deployment of SDRF teams at the nuclear power plants,” the presentation said.

The NDMA also pointed out that seven states, including Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, are yet to constitute the SDRF. Other states include Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

While several states have full-fledged SDRF teams, the NDMA noted that Maharashtra is yet to raise a stand-alone force, though it has agreed to raise three companies.

In Nagaland, SDRF personnel are being utilised for other duties as well, while in Tamil Nadu, only 70 personnel have been earmarked for disaster response, which appears to be inadequate considering the vulnerability profile of the state.

In Punjab, personnel for the disaster response, who have been earmarked from armed police battalions, are also being utilised for other duties, the NDMA said.