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Eight battalions earmarked for disasters: Patil
October 24, 2005 20:17 IST
The Centre said on Monday that it has earmarked eight battalions of paramilitary forces for quick response to disasters and was ready to increase the strength of such units.
"The government has decided to train eight battalions of paramilitary forces for disaster management. Training has already begun," Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said at the 44th Raising Day function of Indo-Tibetan Border Police in New Delhi.
The ambit of such an exercise needed to be expanded. "We need to do it on a bigger scale and would, perhaps, require more than the present strength," Patil said.
Referring to the devastation caused by the earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister hailed the quick response of personnel of the paramilitary and defence forces.
"The army and other forces did an appreciable work in the aftermath of the tsunami and are now dealing with the earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir. They are also battling terrorist activities in the country," he said.
Commending the ITBP for its work as part of United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cambodia, Angola, Kosovo and now in Congo, he said it would allow its personnel to learn new things.
On the problems faced by ITBP personnel, he said the government was aware of them and will do all it could to alleviate their sufferings. "The ITBP personnel are working in difficult conditions at the border. They are doing commedable work at high altitudes despite the cold and lack of oxygen," he said.
ITBP Director-General S K Kain outlined the problems being faced by his force, like poor road infrastructure in the forward areas located at high altitudes and lack of plain area postings available to force personnel due to almost perennial field deployment.
Only 50 of the 140 ITBP border posts can be accessed by roads, he said. "There is, however, a proposal of the ITBP getting its own Air Wing, which will greatly mitigate the hardships faced by the jawans at forward locations and enhance its operational capabilities," he said.
As part of its new responsibility, Kain said the ITBP had set up seven regional disaster response centres in the Himalayan region. "In fact, in 2004, the ITBP performed 24 rescue-and-relief operations as part of disaster management," he said.
Pointing out that the force was going through large-scale modernisation, Kain said the new combat dress for ITBP personnel was a step in the modernisation process.
Earlier, Patil inspected the parade and took the salute at the Raising Day function. He also visited the ITBP Base Hospital and Museum.
The Minister also presented medals for gallantry and meritorious service to 22 ITBP personnel and took part in an impromptu horse-riding session.
Minister of State (Home) Prakash Jaiswal and Union Home Secretary V K Duggal were also present.