The wrath of nature strikes humankind yet again.
Though official figures of the deaths are not available, by all accounts at least 200 people have lost their lives so far. The massive floods of Jammu and Kashmir have us all glued to our TV screens praying for the poor souls stuck there. Today the situation is highly critical.
The Indian army and the NRDF have taken out massive search and rescue missions leaving no stone unturned to help those stranded in and around the capital.
Environmentalists say last year’s devastating flash floods in Uttrakhand, in which atleast 5000 were killed and the unprecedented deluge in Jammu and Kashmir this year, both have the same cause- urbanization, reduced forest cover and erratic monsoon. Authorities in both states ignored warnings from weathermen, magnifying a disaster waiting to happen. The situations in J&K and Uttrakhand are uncannily similar. In both cases, the trigger was incessant rain, set off by the merging of the western disturbance and the monsoon. The devastation in Uttrakhand was worse because of deforestation and construction on the river bed.
In Srinagar, the average rainfall for September 5 is 0.4 mm. But this year’s figure was 49 mm- 122 times more. This exemplifies the level of destruction Mother Nature can cause!
Here are the latest developments:
- About 4 lakh people are still believed to be trapped in the flood ravaged Srinagar and South Kashmir. 42,500 people have so far been rescued in a massive multi- agency operation. The Air Force deployed 61 choppers and transport aircraft along with 110 boats, both wooden and inflatable which have made non- stop sorties to carry men and relief material including medicines and bottled water. Alongside this, commercial airlines like Air India have also offered their services free of cost.
- The slanted tin roofs are proving to be hindrances in the relief operations.The hospitals are not in a state to provide adequate healthcare to the patients, particularly diabetes and dialysis.
- The floods have snapped the Valley’s telecommunication links with the rest of the country. The state- run BSNL is being helped by the Army and Air Force to restore mobile services through satellite network. A team from a private telecom company has also been airlifted from Delhi to help restore the phone connectivity. The rescue team and media are all finding it difficult to communicate in such weather conditions due to heavy overcast.
- Entire residential colonies have been submerged in Rajbagh, Indira Nagar, Jahangir Chowk, etc. The water level of the Dal Lake has also risen and has even submerged The Hazrat Bal shrine. Offices of NDTV, etc are completely underwater now. Although the water has receded but it is not safe yet. The water level at the Ram Munish Bagh station has touched a historic high of 25.20 ft indicating lot more water getting into the city than it can manage.
- Hundreds of displaced refugees who had to leave their homes in the dead of the night were sheltered by the Kashmir University. Schools have been converted into emergency shelters in Pampore.
- Undaunted soldiers have been serving the country and its people.Sadly, 9 Jawans were missing out of which only 7 have been found hale and hearty. 2 are still unaccounted for. Naval commandos have been deployed for the first time. The angry locals attack and heckle the NRDF jawans during relief operations; that is the level of anxiety and distress among the people.
- The J&K National Highway, which links the Valley to the rest of the country, has reopened. The Srinagar- Leh Highway also been opened. But connection to Poonch still remains critical.
- The Home Ministry has set up a control room in Srinagar to monitor flood relief operations. PM Modi himself visited the area and announced 11 billion rupees in disaster relief payments as well as compensation to victims and their relatives. He also announced 1,00,000 blankets, 5000 tents and 50 tonnes of milk powder to be distributed to those forced from their homes. Nawaz Sharif has offered to help to alleviate the flood havoc in Kashmir.
- The Army has also set up medical camps and said their doctors are treating 200-300 people every day. NGOs are also working with them.
- The Akhnoor border fence has been washed away on the LOC which poses an internal security threat due to line zero vanishing.Terrorist activities may step up due to elections on the way.
The paradise on Earth has turned into a living hell. Silver lining- the Army chief said that the situation in Kashmir has improved. Communication is being restored. A few towers of Aircel (about 10-12) are functioning but they are not enough. They have distributed satellite phones to the state authorities. Mobile communication will also start in 3-4 days.
There are innumerable people still stuck who need our help. We must pray and try to do whatever possible to provide some relief to our fellow countrymen. Visit the link to see how.