Srinagar/Jammu: Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said troops will continue to carry out relief operations in flood-affected Jammu and Kashmir till the last man is brought to safety.
“The Indian Army will not move back to the barracks till the last man is brought to safety,” he said on Monday while stressing on Army’s commitment to help people stranded in floods.
215 army columns (75-100 personnel each) are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir where 23,000 people have been rescued, the Army said.
2,000 people were rescued from critical areas in Srinagar including Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Shivpura and Tent Pura on night of September 7 and 8, it said.
Army officials said the Badami Bagh cantonment in Srinagar is also badly-hit by the floods and around 4,000 personnel and their families had to be evacuated.
But, despite being affected internally, the troops have been tasked to go out and carry out the operations, they said.
150 tonne of rations, one lakh ‘Ready to Eat Meals’, four lakh litre of packed milk, 100 boats, 3,000 tents, 50,000 litre of drinking water and 10,000 blankets are in process of being airlifted, Army spokesman Col Rohan Anand said.
Massive rescue operations were under way on Monday to evacuate tens of thousands of people stranded in floods in Jammu & Kashmir as the situation remained grim with most parts of Srinagar city still under water and bad communication lines and high water levels posing a big challenge.
As authorities struggled to deal with the calamity, a landslide was reported from Pachori village in Udhampur district and mitigation forces have reached the area to rescue the few people trapped there.
A total of 25 boats have been launched in flooded areas of Srinagar city to ferry people out even as over 5,100 people have been rescued from the state, which is reeling under heavy floods.
Flood fury has so far claimed the lives of about 160 people and damaged many buildings, including hospitals, and snapped road and communication links, cutting off many areas. The Army cantonment, civil secretariat and the high court in Srinagar have also been inundated.
“We are facing a big problem of communication as all links are down. We are not able to communicate with our teams sent on ground in this flood-ravaged areas. Also, as water level is high in many places our personnel are not able to reach the stranded,” National Disaster Response Force chief O P Singh told reporters in Delhi.
“We have launched a massive operation in the state and divided the state into three zones for smooth conduct of operations. Each zone will be headed by a commandant-rank officer and there will be an overall supervision of a DIG,” he said.
A total of 5,183 people have been rescued till now from the flood waters which includes children and women, he said.
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The NDRF Director General said massive operations are being undertaken in the submerged areas of Goglibagh, Batmalu, Badami Bagh and Bakshi Stadium area of state capital Srinagar apart from other areas.
He said over 13 bodies have also been recovered by NDRF teams in the state till now, he said.
Over 500 satellite phones have also been dispatched to aid rescuers deployed in both Jammu and Kashmir Valley areas, he said.
In view of the deteriorating situation, the state government has ordered closure of all schools till September 12.
The Army has, meanwhile, stepped up relief efforts, deploying 184 columns (75-100 personnel each) while IAF has pressed 29 planes and helicopters into service, set up a disaster monitoring cell and alerted all its bases to a high state of readiness.
Though thousands of people have been rescued from various areas by Army and IAF, many people were still trapped and awaiting help in upper stories of buildings in low-lying areas, including in Srinagar.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah had on Sunday described the situation in the state as unprecedented and said, “We doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please do not panic, we will reach you, I promise”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reviewed the flood situation in the state on Sunday, had termed it a “national level disaster”.
The Prime Minister had said that the Centre stands shoulder to shoulder with J&K government and the people of the state in this hour of crisis.
“An additional special project assistance of Rs 1,000 crore will be made available by the government to the state for flood relief and rehabilitation. More assistance would be provided, if required, after a proper survey of the situation has been made,” the PM had said.
Communication system has been disrupted in Kashmir with all almost all private cellular networks out of order. The landline telephone network has also been badly affected.
Electricity and water supply has remained disrupted in affected areas for the past seven days now.
Meanwhile, pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi in Trikuta Hills of Reasi district resumed this morning after remaining suspended for four consecutive days in view of heavy rains.
An Air Force officer said the situation in Jammu sector was under control but the situation in Srinagar was yet to improve.
“The situation in Jammu sector, I think is under control now. We have been able to air lift more than 18 tonnes of relief material in the last two days. Before that we saved around 800 people from various villages.
“Situation this side is OK but I think the situation in Srinagar is a bit bad,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, flights from Delhi to Srinagar operated as scheduled till the afternoon.