Disaster response teams in K’taka on the ready for floods amid COVID-19 pandemic

At present, some bridges in Belagavi district have been shut for public use as a precautionary measure.
Disaster response teams in K’taka on the ready for floods amid COVID-19 pandemic
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With the COVID-19 pandemic already keeping the state government occupied in Karnataka, the disaster management department is staying on its toes to respond to any flood-like situation. At present, some bridges and barrages in Belagavi district in north Karnataka have been restricted for public use.

A total of four SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) and five NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams are presently spread across the state ready to be deployed in any eventuality.

“River Krishna is in spate and there is a lot of intermittent rainfall. As of now, there is no information about floods but we are in a state of readiness. We have four teams of SDRF in four locations in Karnataka. The teams are present at Mangaluru, Bengaluru, Belagavi and Kalaburagi and will respond to rescue calls. A training capsule was done mainly on water training subject both by the NDRF and our in-house training staff in all the four locations 15 days back,” Sunil Agarwal, Additional Director General of Police, State Fire and Emergency Services told TNM.

“Each team has 50 personnel each. Usually, 25 of them are fire officers and the rest are home guard and civil defence personnel. We have different types of expertise like landslides, building collapse and flood rescue,” he added.

An official working with the State Emergency Operation Centre said at present there is no immediate threat of flooding but some low-lying areas in Belagavi district through which River Krishna flows has been shut for regular vehicular movement.

This, after heavy rainfall in the Krishna river catchment area in Maharashtra led to high inflow of water in the state at the border district. Heavy and widespread monsoon rains in August 2019 in the region had triggered floods in many parts of the state, leading to loss of life and property. 

“Bhoj- Kunnur, Bhoj-Karadaga, Malikwad-Dattawad, Barawad-Kunnur and Kallol-Yadur bridge-cum-barrages and other minor barrages, culverts primarily in Chikodi taluk of Belagavi district have been shut,” said the official.

He added, “With heavy, uniform rain predicted over the next week, all coastal and Malnad districts are also at a level of alert and district-level disaster management control rooms have been made operational.”

Sunil M Gavaskar, meteorologist at the Karnataka State Disaster Monitoring Centre said that good rains are underway across the state, especially in coastal districts with active monsoon conditions. “The state emergency operation centre is in touch with the district authorities on a real time basis. For the next seven days, we are expecting light to moderate rainfall across the state with isolated heavy rainfall,” he said.

The Indian Meteorological Department has already issued a red alert for Kodagu on Thursday.

A NDRF official told TNM that four teams of 30 personnel each in Dakshina Kannada, Dharwad, Kodagu and Belagavi districts are positioned. There is one additional team in Bengaluru which is the regional response headquarters.

“In case there is a flood-like situation, we will call teams from outside the state to help us,” the official said.

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