Published On : Tue, Jul 11th, 2017

Vena Dam Tragedy : Nagpur’s disaster response team lacks in rescue equipment’s

Nagpur: The tragic incident at Vena Dam which claimed 8 lives has once again brought on surface the lack of safety arrangements at such vulnerable spots coupled with empty handed city unit of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Eight revellers had drowned during a joyride on a boat on Sunday evening.

The local SDRF team, attached to State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) Group IV, had been formed after the unit was created in the state around a year ago. The team still does not have access to much of the equipment required for emergency situations. The team is yet to get diving high value items, like personal diving kit, weight belt, dive fins, special gloves, underwater torch, oxygen cylinder, high pressure breathing compressors, underwater communication systems and so on. These are in the process of being procured through the central government’s allocated funds.

The team that reached Vena on Sunday was only equipped with inflatable rescue motor boats, life jackets and some basic kits like ropes. However, the SDRF unit of 25 members did not allow the absence of proper equipment to come in the way of their mission to retrieve the bodies from the depths of Vena lake.

A source from the SDRF team said the local situation was first analysed by their unit, and it appeared that the bodies were stuck in the slush and underwater weeds in the dam’s backwaters. The bodies were not moving under the surface of the water since the water was mostly still behind the dam, he said.

The SDRF team then formulated a strategy to stir up the water to ensure movement of the bodies stuck under the surface.

“First, the area of the dam where the boat sank with the revellers was identified by summoning one of the survivors (Amol Dodke) to the dam from hospital. After the zone was marked, our three inflatable boats started spiralling around it repeatedly. The outboard engines were run at high speeds to stir up considerable amount of water. The ploy worked and the bodies started surfacing,” he said.

Before this strategy was adopted, the SDRF had been scouting the backwaters without much success. They had to wait for a considerable period after the first body (Ankit Bhoskar) was located under water at 8.22am on Monday. It was more than three hours before they got the body of Roshan Khandare at 11.54am. Then they deployed their spiralling strategy, which led to bodies surfacing at regular intervals.