Lucknow- Volunteers, who got training under the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), on Monday , demonstrated at the Kanshiram Eco Garden, seeking payment of wages for their services. They also demanded that their insurance cover be increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
Pradeep Kumar, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Aapda Mitra Ekta Manch (association of disaster response volunteers), said, “If the government does not need our services, then why does it train us and spends Rs 29,500 of the fund.”
Apart from responding to disasters and emergency situations, members of the association said, they also work to ensure that government events and festivals such as Dussehra, Chhath, etc. are held without any accident.
“On successful completion of such events, officials of the district administration get their photos clicked with us, but we do not get anything in return,” they said.
The SDRF – according to Kishan Kharvar from Ghazipur – provided him training at Lucknow, but he is still awaiting for the stipend. “We assured a sum of Rs 26,000 as payment and an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh, but we are yet to get the amount,” he said.
A woman volunteer, Mamta Rai, from Ghazipur, who works as Apda Sakhi, said they serve in every event the administration assigns them, but they get nothing in return. Mamta said they spend from their own pocket for commutation when they are assigned duties on events like the Chhatt Pujan and other gatherings.
Under the Aapda Mitra scheme run by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), a 12-days training program of 10,200 volunteers is being conducted at the SDRF Headquarters in collaboration with the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) in Uttar Pradesh.
The Aapda Mitra/Sakhi programme provides training to the volunteers for earthquake safety, flood rescue and basic life support such as Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), lifting and evacuation of the patients etc.
SDRF officials could not be reached for comments.
Rakesh Rao from the media cell of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), which works closely with the SDRF, told The Mooknayak, “The SDRF train the volunteers to to handle emergency situations. The list of the volunteers is sent to SDRF by the office of the district magistrate. They are not regular employees of the SDRF and cannot claim for regular job or insurance . The local authorities like gram pradhan (village head) may use their services and pay them accordingly.”