Reliance on the armed forces for HADR functions should be reduced
 
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A Civilian Solution

Reliance on the armed forces for HADR functions should be reduced

Yuvraj Sakhare
 

Traditionally, the Indian armed forces have been the first resort for rescue and relief during times of natural disasters and other humanitarian crisis. In recent times, they have done commendable work during natural calamities such as the earthquake in Nepal, the cloudburst in Uttarakhand, the floods in Srinagar and Chennai among many others.

It is their organisational skills and well-coordinated management system that has made them the first choice for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). Even though the primary responsibility for disaster response lies with civilian agencies at local and state levels, only the armed forces have the manpower, equipment, training and organisation necessary to gather the relief efforts required during such emergencies.

The Indian armed forces’ role in providing aid has not been restricted to India only; they have extended help to various countries, especially facilitating help to South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. In fact, many South Asian counties look up to India in times of emergencies and if it further extends its benevolent gesture to countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it will help India become a major regional power. Over the years, India has evolved from being the recipient of aid to becoming a donor state.

Along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the armed forces perform a range of activities during disasters such as restoring communication services in the affected region, providing medical aid, transporting relief material, establishing relief camps, evacuating people to safer areas, constructing and repairing roads and bridges etc. The forces are also expected to train civilian personnel in disaster management.

Yet, rescue and relief is not the armed forces’ primary role, and even though it has become de rigueur to deploy them during disasters, this practice has to be stopped. There should be a certain mechanism in place to avoid unwarranted deployment of the forces when civil administration could undertake relief operations. The armed forces should be called upon only when the civil administration fails to manage the disaster rescue and relief on their own or need additional assistance.

Role of Indian Navy in HADR
India has 7,516 km of coastline encompassing 66 districts, inhabited by a population of nearly 170 million people. This gives the Indian Navy a high degree of access to areas of interest. The navy’s capability to reach to a vast coastal area makes it a vital response force in the IOR during natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunami and so on.

Relief material being unloaded at Guptkashi

 
 
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