Bhubaneswar, August 18, 2018: In the aftermath of Super Cyclone – 1999, the Odisha Government started working on disaster management capacity building in a big way with creation of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF). It was initially raised with only three units in 2001. In 2004, another two units were raised and five years later, five more units were raised to provide emergency services during calamities and man-made accidents in 2009.
ODRAF has now become a specialised force in the State for disaster management.
At present 10 units of ODRAF are located across the state under the command of the battalions or district police. Recently government have raised 10 new units which have not yet been provided with equipments though the personnel have undergone formal training on induction course on Disaster Response.
The old 10 ODRAF units are located at Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Chhatrapur, Rourkela, Koraput, Jharsuguda and Baripada under the supervision of OSAP commandants and the units at Balasore, Bolangir and Jagatsinghpur are functioning under the supervision of District SPs. The IG of Police (Law & Order) is the administrative head of the ODRAF units and Commandant 6th O.S.A.P Battalion, Cuttack acts as the Nodal Officer to co-ordinate among all ODRAF units of the State as well as OSDMA.
The ODRAF personnel are trained to act as first responders during any disaster which includes restoration of channel of communication, relief line clearance, under water and flood rescue management, rescue from high rise building, casualty management etc.
The ODRAF units are also equipped with various search, rescue and life saving equipments, required machineries, vehicles and mechanized boats to tackle every kind of eventuality at the time of disaster.
The track record of ODRAF units in relief and rescue operation during natural disasters has been excellent. ODRAF personnel have undergone various types of Disaster Management Training both inside and outside the State.
They have done a spectacular job in saving lives of victims, evacuating the affected persons and distributing relief materials among the needy people during the severe cyclonic storm “Phailin” and subsequent flood in 2013, and also during the cyclonic storm Hudhud in 2014.
They were pressed in to service during Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh where they have rendered yeoman service to the people and placed itself as an icon of trust and projected the human face of the Odisha Police. It is regarded as one of the oldest and finest State Disaster Response Forces of the country.
In the year 2018 itself ODRAF have been deployed in various places of Odisha for search and rescue operation during natural and man-made disaster like flood, cyclone, drowning, bridge and fly-over collapse, fire accidents, water accidents, rail accidents, kalabaisakhi storm etc.
On February 4, 2018 two ODRAF teams of OSAP 6th Bn. Cuttack were pressed in to service to rescue the fire accident victims in the City Style show room at Badambadi, Cuttack and successfully performed their duty in an adverse situation.
Similarly, on May 17, 2018, two ODRAF teams of OSAP 6th Bn Cuttack were pressed in to service to rescue a trapped person inside the water tunnel near Signal Office, Bidanasi. The trapped man was safely rescued. On June 1, 2018 one ODRAF team of OSAP 3rd Bn. Koraput was pressed into service for search and rescue operation duty at Boriput, Raniguda stone sliding site in Koraput District. Another ODRAF team from OSAP6th Bn. Cuttack was also deputed to the same stone-sliding site on 5th June for extensive search and rescue operation.
Similarly on June 16, 2018 ODRAF unit of OSAP 8th Bn. Chhatrapur were pressed in to service at Chilika lake Boat accident site. During the operation, the team recovered four persons from Chilika lake. Again on July 21, 2018, ODRAF unit of OSAP 2nd Bn. Jharsuguda were pressed in to emergent service at Sambalpur to rescue the flood affected people. During the operation, the team successfully rescued 10 people from village Gausala on July, 22 this year.
The ODRAF team from Koraput were pressed in to service during incessant rain and high flood in Nabarangpur district recently where the rescue personnel undertook a tremendous job in reaching out the cut-off villages with their inflatable boats and rescued many people especially pregnant women, children and old people to safer places.