The Delhi Police recently issued a statement, pointing out that civil defence personnel, also known as Delhi Civil Defence (DCD) volunteers, have no power to stop people using police barricades and prosecute them for violation of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour such as not wearing masks.
What’s the issue?
- From being lauded for their work during the pandemic to facing allegations of high-handedness, the role of the civil defence volunteers in the national capital has come under intense scrutiny in the recent past.
- One such incident recently turned into a full blown fist-fight between a group of civil defence personnel and general public near IIT-Delhi.
The Civil Defence Policy of the Government of India till the declaration of emergency in 1962, was confined to making the States and Union Territories conscious of the need of civil protection measures and to ask them to keep ready civil protection plans for major cities and towns under the then Emergency Relief Organisation (ERO) scheme. Chinese aggression in 1962 and Indo-Pak conflict in 1965 led to a considerable re-thinking about the policy and scope of Civil Defence. As a result, the Civil Defence Policy as it exists today, was evolved and Civil Defence legislation was enacted in the Parliament in 1968. The country was subjected to further hostile attacks from Pakistan in December, 1971 when the Civil Defence Organisation acquitted itself commendably.
Due to technological advancement in last few decades the environment of the globe has undergone a significant change. The climate change is resulting into many natural disasters with increasing frequency and the changed socio-economic and political scenario has resulted into new emerging challenges to internal security threats. To meet the challenges of the day, the Civil Defence Act was suitably amended by the Civil Defence (Amendment) Act, 2009 by Notification No.3 of 2010, to include the disaster management as an additional role for the Civil Defence Corps, while retaining its primary role.
Major Tasks of Civil Defence
- To make sure that the public is warned of danger and provided with instructions on how to avoid hazards.
- Advice people to protect themselves by either evacuating the area or remain and take shelter.
- Organizing immediate relief to the survivors.
- Support emergency services
- Rescue operations
- Law enforcement
- Medical care
- Public works repair
- Provision of voluntary Food, Shelter and Clothing.
- Assist in recovery operations
- Clearance of Debris
- Restoring utility services
- Managing relocations centers
Structure of Civil Defence administration in the country
At the national level, the Director General, Civil Defence under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is responsible for formulating Civil Defence policies and for coordination. In the states, the Civil Defence set- up is headed by a senior police officer designated as the Director, Civil Defence. At the district level, the District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of a district is designated Controller of Civil Defence.
Civil Defence Volunteers
Civil Defence is primarily organised on voluntary basis except for a small nucleus of paid staff and establishment which is augmented during emergencies.
Eligibility for becoming a Civil Defence Volunteer
- A person who intends to apply for appointment to a Civil Defence Corps must fulfill the following conditions;
- s/he shall be a citizen of India or Bhutan or of Nepal.
- s/he shall have completed the age of 18 years provided that this age limit may be relaxed at the discretion of the competent authority up to a maximum of 3 years for any branch or category of the Corps.
- s/he shall have passed at least the primary standard, that is to say, the fifth class, and this condition may be relaxed by the Controller at this discretion.
- Both men and women shall be eligible for appointment to the Corps.
- A person shall not be entitled to be appointed to the Corps unless he is found to be physically fit and mentally alert.
- Any service in the National Volunteer Force and in the Armed Forces of the Union shall be a special qualification.
Process to become a Civil Defence Volunteer
- Every person eligible for appointment under regulation shall be required to apply in Form ‘A’ and also present himself for interview before the competent authority.
- A candidate shall be enrolled as member, for initial period of 3 years, which may be extended more than once each time after a period of 3 years.
- Members of the Corps may be called on duty for the following purposes. During such occasions, a nominal incentive as per existing norms is provided.
- practice or exercises
- perform the duties assigned to them by order under the regulations
Source: Indian Express