Lakhs Stranded In Flood-hit Kashmir

8 September 2014
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: Lakhs of people still remain stranded in the Valley where massive rescue operations were underway on a warfooting today after floods ravaged Kashmir and telecom links with Srinagar were snapped adding to the miseries of the affected. The Centre has rushed more National Disaster Response Forces(NDRF) teams equipped with boats and other flood relief equipment. There was only slight drizzle in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley today in some relief after the State was pounded by rains since Tuesday even as the water level in many flood-hit areas slowly began to recede. The water level in Dal Lake in Srinagar is, however, rising. NDRF chief O P Singh said the flood situation in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley was 'very acute'. As dozens of boats were deployed in Srinagar by rescue agencies, desperate residents were huddled on rooftops and upper floors of their houses in several areas hoping to escape the flood waters. The State Government, however, requisitioned for more boats, officials said. IAF choppers and transport aircraft undertook several sorties as relief work was extended for the first time to South Kashmir. IAF has deployed 45 aircraft and helicopters into action, a Defence spokesman said. The rescued included 1,400 Army personnel and their families caught in flood waters in its headquarters at Badamibagh cantonment in Srinagar. The cantonment along with areas of Shivpora and Indranagar in Srinagar were submerged as the water level rose alarmingly due to breach in the Jhelum River. With thousands of people trapped on the second floor, third floor or on the roof tops in several areas in the Valley, a Defence spokesman said Army plans to continue the rescue operations even at night. The heavy floods triggered by torrential rains have snapped Valley's telecommunication links with the rest of the country even as BSNL launched an operation on a war-footing with Army and IAF to restore mobile services through satellite network. Internet connectivity was also down. Officials said it may take upto 72 hours for the telecom links to be restored. The Military machinery and Government authorities have taken recourse to satellite phones. Over 5,200 people have been rescued till now by a 700-strong NDRF team taking part in relief and rescue operations in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir. The central control room of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Delhi said a total of 17 teams of the force with 118 boats have been deployed in the affected areas. 'So far, NDRF teams engaged in rescue and relief work have evacuated more than 5,246 victims, 5,223 from Kashmir region and 23 from Jammu. Besides, thirteen bodies were also recovered by NDRF in Jammu region. The operations are still on,' the government said. The rescue and evacuation operation by the NDRF has entered the fourth day and 17 teams of NDRF comprising more than 700 rescuers and life saving equipment are working relentlessly in adverse conditions to provide immediate relief to the victims. Two Deputy Inspectors General (DIG) and as many Commandants are also present at the location to supervise the on-going rescue operation, it said. Government is also making effort for the restoration of the power connection in the Valley and deploying people for the task. Though there is no scarcity of petrol and diesel so far, at least 50 pumps - out of 78 pumps in the Valley - are under flood water. The authorities are also planning to deploy heavy duty pumps to drain out flood water in some of the low lying areas in Srinagar city. The official said that air connectivity to Srinagar and Jammu are normal while train lines up to Udhampur are expected to be operationalised today and up to Katra by tomorrow.