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State to set up dedicated force to handle disasters

The decision comes in the wake of the landslide in Ambegaon in Pune district yesterday, which has buried many under debris

Responding to the news of a landslide in Pune district where more than a hundred villagers are trapped under rubble and many are feared dead, the state cabinet on Wednesday decided to set up a dedicated force to deal with disasters.

The state will set up two companies of state disaster relief force (SDRF) on the lines of the national disaster respose force (NDRF) for rescue and relief operations during natural calamities. As many as 428 posts are to be created for the cause.

After coming to know of the tragedy that struck Malin village, Ambegaon taluka in Pune yesterday following incessant rainfall, the weekly cabinet meeting was cut short after 45 minutes, as Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar rushed to the spot of the disaster.

When the state faces any type of disaster — in the form of flood, earthquake or cyclone, besides water scarcity in almost 15 to 20 districts — the NDRF team in Maharashtra, which is stationed at Talegaon near Pune, takes time to reach the spot.

The cabinet also noted that since the districts prone to disaster are from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, a dedicated SDRF is the need of the hour.

The SDRF will comprise three teams, and each will have 45 personnel trained to deal with the catastrophes. A committee headed by the state chief secretary will make the recruitments.

ST bus drivers sense trouble

One of the first persons to find out about the landslide were the drivers of a Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus.

Around 8 am yesterday, Pratap Kale and Madan Damse, en route from Ahure to Narayangaon, got stuck since a huge tree had blocked the road.

After locals cleared the tree, the bus moved forward, but the entire road was clogged with mud and slush. Kale called up his brother, also an ST driver, asking him not to take the route.

Later, they found out that the entire village had been buried in the landslide from Kondre hill.

Traffic is expected to move only by Thursday morning.

The help line number is 020 26120720

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