We can never forget the stampede in the Kumbh Mela in 1954, which was organised in Allahabad. More than 800 people were killed and over 100 people were seriously injured in that event. It was not the last accident. Even after that, there were many accidents occurred in which millions of people were killed. By seeing these frequent accidents, long discussions were held national and international level on disaster management in the nineties and in the following decade and stressed on implementing concrete measures to prevent such accidents. In this perspective, the Disaster Management Act was implemented on December 26, 2005, as well as established the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to create policies, schemes and guidelines for disaster management. In the Disaster Management Act, statutory provisions have been made to provide special help in the case of natural and man-made disasters.
Accordingly, in 2006, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was formed with eight battalions. Currently, NDRF has 12 battalions. There are 1,149 soldiers in each battalion. Initially, NDRF soldiers were deployed to manage law and order problems, but as per the directions of the Prime Minister which was made on October 25, 2007, NDRF itself dedicated to do natural or man-made disaster management on February 14, 2008. Along with this, NDRF detailed notification of rules was issued for its smooth functioning. However, during this period, natural calamities like Orissa Super Cyclone (1999), Gujarat earthquake (2001) and Indian Ocean tsunami (2004) occurred in which thousand and thousand people killed.
Since its establishment, NDRF has continued to win the hearts of the countrymen by demonstrating their expertise while dealing with disaster situations. In January 2010, a six-storey building collapsed in Bellary, Karnataka, but the NDRF team rescued 20 stranded victims during the seven-day operation and removed 29 bodies from debris. After the fall of a multi-storey building in Jalandhar, Punjab in April 2012, NDRF successfully rescued 12 survivors stranded in the rubble and recovered 19 bodies. During earthquake in Nepal or floods and landslides in Uttarakhand, NDRF team has always protected people who were in risk. In addition to hurricanes, floods, etc. NDRF has gained expertise in saving people in the event of chemical, biological and radiological attacks. During April and May 2010, the Cobalt-60 radiological material in Mayapuri, Delhi was made ineffective by NDRF team with great intelligence. Within a decade, NDRF has saved lives of 1.15 lakh people. Apart from this, 5.8 lakh stranded people have also been taken to safer places.
Since NDRF has taken the responsibility of managing the Kumbh Mela, the occurrence of a stampede or accident has almost stopped. Around 24 crore pilgrims took deep into the holy river Ganga during the In Kumbh, 2019. Nevertheless, due to efforts of the NDRF team, not any kind of untoward situation occurred, whereas terrorist organizations such as ISIS threatened to carry out chemical attack during the Kumbh Mela by issuing audio tapes, but any kind of attack, could not make in view of the attentive approach of NDRF team. In 2019 Kumbh, two people were saved by NDRF team on January 17, 2019, while on 9th February, 9 people were drowning in the river, owing to turning of the boat near the conglomeration of three rivers i.e. Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati, however, NDRF team managed to save them.
NDRF team saved the lives of 26 people in the Kumbh Mela, while arranged treatment of 30 critically injured. A total of 15,282 people have also been provided medical assistance by the NDRF team.To make Kumbh Mela successful, 11 temporary hospitals, 80 ambulances, 22 pontoon bridges, more than 25,000 security personnel, 40 temporary police stations and 62 police outposts, 45 fire stations, 15 fire outposts, construction of 1,22,500 temporary toilets, to stop the untoward situation, installation of 1,000 CCTV cameras, 90 parking lots, in which 5 lakh vehicles could have been parked etc. were arranged by NDRF.The NDRF team succeeded in making the Kumbh Mela management, which was looking impossible, and all this led by Kaushlesh Rai, Commandant, NDRF. NDRF also undertook to educate the masses to save people in the event of disaster. The number of such trained men was 150. 570 trained sailors were deployed to prevent any kind of accident in the holy River Ganga.
In order to protect the lives and property of the people led by NDRF, 1,650 police were also deputed there, who were working 24 hours continuously in the shift. About 250 doctors were dedicated to keeping the people healthy. NDRF also did mock drills to protect against chemical, biological and radiological attacks, so that the victims can be saved in the time of danger. NDRF had deployed 12 teams to prevent such hazards.
To save people from drowning, 70 boats and 45 divers were stationed in Kumbh. Water ambulances named “Khumbh Ke Devdoot” were continuously patrolling the Ganges River. Today, occurrence of a stampede is common even in small events. In such a scenario the existence of NDRF has become necessary to keep our existence intact. It cannot be imagined to hold any big event without it at the present time.
Nonetheless, NDRF can only succeed in arrangement of Kumbh 2019, the central and state government had complete faith, in which soldiers of NDRF became completely successful. Due to the NDRF efforts, the name of the country was discussed in international level. The USA based renowned newspaper “New York Times” also praised the efficient management of Khumbh 2019. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath jointly gave the citation to the Commandant of NDRF for efficient management of Kumbh 2019.
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