An elite NDRF team equipped with nuclear and biological combat gear has been positioned in the heart of the national capital to quickly respond to dangerous threats to not only the seat of power but also to the local population.
Keeping in view the disaster vulnerability profile and high seismic activity in and around Delhi, another special team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), in 24×7 operational readiness, has been based in South West Delhi’s R K Puram area recently.
A third team to combat chemical or radiological leakage or attack incidents has also been based at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Senior Home Ministry and NDRF officials said a small team of about 30 personnel equipped with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) disasters combat has been stationed near the India Gate area sometime back.
“The national capital area has all the protective mechanism against terror and other security-related threats but a specialised protective shield and response mechanism against CBRN threats and disasters was not available in the vicinity,” a senior officer said.
Hence, he said, a specially chosen team of some of the best NDRF personnel has been deployed 24×7 in this area which houses the seat of power and the government including Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister’s Office and other central ministries and departments.
This team, based in Jamnagar House, will also be able to respond to any CBRN threat to any public place or market area in Delhi at a short notice, he added.
Till now, the NDRF base in sector-19 in neighbouring Ghaziabad was tasked with the responsibility of the Delhi area, whether to respond to a CBRN threat or a natural disaster like earthquake.
“This was a concern as an NDRF team rushing from Ghaziabad in such an emergency would take time owing to traffic conditions and other issues. The distance factor has now been cut and the response will be quick,” the officer said.
The 45-member team at R K Puram will respond to any disaster-like earthquake or big accident that takes place in Delhi.
Both the teams, at R K Puram and near India Gate, are vehicle-borne and possess essential equipment in order to respond to any disaster, man-made or natural, which is the charter of the NDRF, the officer added.
He added that NDRF Director General R K Pachnanda had made a special request to the ministry of urban development to get land for stationing the special team somewhere in Delhi and the ministry readily made available a small plot in R K Puram.
The team at IGIA will respond to any gas or chemical leak or a CBRN attack-like scenario in the passenger terminal or the cargo area, the officer said.
There have been two incidents when radioactive material leak incidents were reported in the cargo area of the Delhi airport in May 2015 and one in October last year. An NDRF team from Ghaziabad had then reached to check the leakage.
The responders of the force were also called in when Cobalt-60, a radioactive material, was recovered in Delhi’s Mayapuri area in 2010.
The CBRN teams of the NDRF are equipped with gadgets like hazardous gas vapour identifier, contamination monitor, water poison detection kit, smart radiation detectors, isotope identifiers, hazmat (hazardous material) suits, de- contamination suits and few others to check and de-contaminate the affected people and the environment.
The NDRF is the national force mandated to respond to disasters in any part of the country and it was raised in 2006.