Widening ‘Operation Maitri’, Indian Army on Monday moved its rescue mission outside Nepal’s capital into the epicentre of the devastating earthquake at Barpak village in Gorkha district, while its engineers opened up the road to Kathmandu from India.
The opening up of the road from India to Kathmandu means that relief materials and equipment can now be moved by road instead of just the air in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. As per priorities expressed by Nepal Army, a Task Force Headquarters has been established in Kathmandu under Major General J S Sandhu. Another Task Force has been set up at Barpak under Brigadier J Gamlin, Army officers here said.
“The aid that is being sent to Nepal is what has been asked by the Nepal Army. We are helping them as per their requirement,” the officers said, when asked about the kind of equipment that was being sent to Nepal. They added that Nepal was not seeking Indian personnel but equipment and expertise.
Talking about the rescue mission of the Indian Army, the officers said the road from Kathmandu to Pokhara has been opened up by Engineer Task Force inducted on Sunday. They said satellite communication link between Nepalese Army Headquarters and Indian Army Engineer Task Force has been established. In addition, a Movement Control Team has been set up in Kathmandu to direct relief convoys to affected areas. The Army, which has established a helicopter base in Pokhara, has pressed into service four advanced light helicopters and two Cheetah choppers.
The Army said that induction of 18 medical teams, besides three field hospitals, has been completed. One field hospital has been deployed at Rajdalgarh near Lalitpur with one orthopaedic specialist, one surgical specialist and one anaesthetist along with attached medical staff. Additional doctors have been tasked to cover 80 KM radius area around the base in two mobile teams, the Army said.
One Engineer Task Force, which was inducted on Sunday comprising 40 personnel, five Earth Moving Equipment (Engineer Plant) and generators, has also started functioning. The Army on Monday dispatched 5,000 blankets and 500 tents by road to Nepal, in addition to 400 blankets and 40 tents sent on Sunday by air. The Army officers said an Electrical Damage Assessment Team was also deployed in Nepal today to assess the damages and repair wherever possible.
Giving a brief on the operations, the Army officers said the Pension Paying Office at Pokhara is functioning as a Multi National Coordination Centre. “Helicopters are being employed to evacuate people from inaccessible areas and adhoc helipads are being constructed at remote and inaccessible areas. 203 civilians have been evacuated to safe areas and 47 civilians evacuated to hospitals in joint effort with NDRF and IAF,” the officers said.
They added that the Indian Army expedition team located at the Everest Base Camp continues to assist in evacuation and rendering medical aid to the needy. Meanwhile, the IAF in a statement said five tonnes of milk, light vehicles, RO Plant, oxygen regenerators, medicines, blankets, tents, 14 tonnes of food (ITC Noodles), three National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams, 2 Field Hospitals, 2 Air Force Communication Centre Vehicles and Medicine are being sent on Monday.
On Monday, four C-17 Globemaster, three C-130J Super Hercules, three IL-76 and two AN-32 aircraft were pressed into action from morning to night to transport relief material. Extensive helicopter operations have also commenced.
Nearly 3.5 tonnes of relief load has been air dropped in inaccessible places. A total of 2,305 stranded persons have been evacuated from Kathmandu to India, the IAF said.
With the weather improving in Nepal on Monday, the Indian Air Force (IAF) along with Indian Army fanned out to remote areas while continuing with transporting essential items from various bases to Kathmandu and evacuating distressed persons to India.