FLOODS SPREAD TO NORTH KASHMIR, OVER A LAKH STILL TO BE RESCUED, FRESH RAINS AND DISEASE ADD TO WOES
1. 5 lakh people are still marooned waiting to being rescued
NEW DELHI: Just when the torrential waters had started receding and the multi-agency rescue operations were in full-swing, fresh rains suspended rescue operations with over a lakh Kashmiri’s still trapped in their homes.
At around 9 am Sunday morning, rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning lashed Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir Valley, so much so, that the Indian Air Force had to suspend sorties due to heavy rains. Fortunately the rains stopped soon and rescue operations were resumed.
Also, light to moderate showers are expected in Reasi, Samba, Anantnag, Bandipora, Budgam, Doda, Kathua, Poonch, Rajouri, Srinagar and Udhampur districts of Jammu and Kashmir through the day although Monday and most of the next week is again predicted as ‘sunny’ by the meteorological department.
Even after more than a week, 1. 5 lakh people are still marooned waiting to being rescued by the Army.
“Right now, the focus still remains on rescue operations as 1.5 lakh people are still marooned. Our primary focus is on provision of relief like rations, medicines and supplies they require,” state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told the news agencies.
Stating that the water levels are "receding" in central Kashmir, the Chief Minister said that the rivers are still flowing above the danger mark. The “plugs in the breaches” on the banks of river Jhelum that has caused the large scale flooding can be fixed only after the water level falls far below the danger mark.
The chief minister expressed concern about the "Water levels rising in some parts of North Kashmir. That is a matter of concern. We are hoping that North Kashmir will not be as badly affected as the rest”.
Abdullah also said that properties and infrastructure worth Rs.6,000 crores has been destroyed in the floods so far.
It is necessary to mention that the Army, IAF and NDRF have undertaken a massive round-the-clock rescue and relief operation, with 86 aircrafts and 30,000 troops.
A Defence Spokesman said in Jammu that around 1.5 lakh people have so far been rescued in military and civil rescue operations.
The “NDRF alone rescued around 49,115 people from Kashmir. The distribution of relief material is in full swing”, according to NDRF DIG JKS Rawat. He said that “relief work and rehabilitation is our focus now, and today we resumed rescue operation after the rains eased up”.
After the deluge, the fear of epidemic is being voiced by doctors and health experts who have emphasised the "acute" shortage of medicines. Senior doctors at different medical camps being run by various agencies say that they are now running out of lifesaving medicines and want an immediate replenishment of the same.
Dr PM Kabui, the Medical Commandant of the SSB, said, "We are facing an acute shortage of medicines as we have run out of stock of several medicines like antibiotic for children."
On the other hand, the Chief Minister has different claims to make. He said "Our focus is on provision of medicines and water- purifying medicines like chlorine and lakhs of chlorine tablets have been distributed. We have asked municipalities to activate the sanitation system. Our primary concern is rescue and provision of food, prevention of diseases and epidemics is our priority”.
For the past three days, SSB has been continuously running two medical camps across Srinagar.
These alarming fears are threatening the authorities as well. As fears of possible outbreak of waterborne diseases mounted with flood waters receding, Abdullah also said that Kashmir has a history that lives are not lost as much in floods as in the aftermath of this natural disaster.
The communications lines seem to be a little better, though, many are still disrupted.
Power supply also a similar story. Authorities claim that 45 per cent of the total electricity supply to the Srinagar city has been restored, though, not much can be witnessed on the ground.
Help is pouring from every other sector and people are trying to do whatever little they can in order to help the tens of millions affected.
For instance, Indian carriers have been participating in the evacuation of stranded people in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir. These may even formally urge the government to exempt them from paying aeronautical charges and also seek lower fuel costs for these operations, airline sources said.