NDRF teams head for AP, Karnataka

Rescue teams from city-based National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have gone to Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to participate in rescue and relief operations. Over the weekend, more than 200 personnel were airlifted to the two states by three AN-32 aircraft.

However, nearly 40 per cent of the NDRF force has been deployed in Thane near Mumbai on election duty from October 1. "A significant section of our specialised force is doing regular law and order duty when we feel the unit could be of better utility if they could participate in the rescue efforts in Maharashtra," said Alok Avasthy, commandant, NDRF-Talegaon.

Karnataka, Goa and Maharastra fall under the 'Area of Responsibility' of the NDRF stationed here. "We are not comfortable. We have requested for our forces to be relieved from Thane and redeployed in Maharashtra and Goa, which also falls under our Area of Responsibility. But we have been told it will be difficult to relieve them from election duty at present," Avasthy said.

Reports coming in from Nashik, Jalgaon, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Pune suggest that around 170 people have died in the past four days while over two lakh persons have been shifted to safer places." However, the state disaster management cell said the situation in parts of Maharashtra and Goa was under control and it was not yet required for the NDRF to step in.

"Election duty is also national duty. At present, the situation is under control it is under level one alert. If it goes beyond that, we can re-deploy the forces. The Army is also on standby in Kolhapur and Mumbai," said SC Mohanty, state disaster management cell.

Meanwhile, in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the NDRF teams have been coordinating rescue, evacuation and relief efforts. On Sunday, the NDRF teams distributed eight quintals of food in Karnataka and around 4,000 food packets in Andhra Pradesh. "They have conducted special operations, including rescuing marooned persons," Avasthy said.

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