New Delhi: In yet another proverbial breaking of the glass ceiling, country's national disaster combat force --NDRF-- has appointed a woman as its first commanding officer of a full operational battalion.
The National Disaster Response Forces' (NDRF) 4th Battalion based in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu will now be commanded by senior Commandant Rekha Nambiar, who recently joined the force on deputation from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Nambiar (40) was till now commanding the CISF unit deployed for securing the Chennai international airport as the Chief Airport Security Officer (CASO).
Officials said the decision to appoint Nambiar as the Commanding Officer (CO) of the about 1,000 personnel-strong all-men battalion was taken keeping in mind the woman officer's excellent service record and as part of NDRF Director General O P Singh's initiative to bring in women empowerment in the central force.
"Yes, we have appointed the first women officer in NDRF. This has been done keeping in mind the gender harmony in the force and the officer who has been given the charge has very good credentials," Singh told PTI.
He added that the force will induct more women personnel in various ranks in the future as a number of disaster scenarios necessitate woman combatants.
"Over the time we have felt that the NDRF should have women in its ranks when tackling a disaster. The process has begun," the DG said.
The NDRF unit based in Arakkonam is tasked with responding to disasters primarily in south India but in case of emergency, it can be airlifted to any part of the country.
The unit had also participated in the relief and rescue operations during the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal early this year.
The NDRF, a senior official said, is also working on an action plan to have at least 10 per cent of its strength as women personnel.
Singh had also recently written to various central forces to provide women officers and personnel to the force at the cutting-edge level.
NDRF, a force raised by bringing on deputation personnel from various paramilitary forces, is the first responder in case of any natural or man-made disasters and its units are deployed in various parts of the country for such emergencies.
At present NDRF battalions, apart from Arakkonam in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, are based in Guwahati (Assam), Kolkata (West Bengal), Cuttack (Odisha), Pune (Maharashtra), Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Bathinda (Punjab), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar) and Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh).