Forget Kashmiri politics: Natural disasters need prompt attention

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New Delhi, Aug.12 (ANI): While the separatists and political leaders of Kashmir are busy deciphering the statements made by the Prime Minister following his meeting with the All Party Delegation and finding ways and means to derail his noble initiative, the Armed Forces and the civil administration in Jammu and Kashmir are engaged in a grim battle against nature's fury which has hit parts of Leh and nearby areas. .

Even as the Armed Forces and the civil administration were struggling to restore the disaster hit situation in Leh, heart- rending scenes were witnessed in Wakha village in Kargil district after devastating flash floods struck havoc over there. Communication in the village was totally disrupted and the villagers lost access to the civil administration.

The Army personnel launched a massive rescue and relief operation. Immediate relocation of the villagers averted loss of life, even though loss to the houses and shops was severe.

On the night of August 10, the Valley witnessed a scare when, due to a cloudburst, flashfloods occurred in the villages of Khunamuh and Balhama in Srinagar and Pulwama districts respectively. The flashfloods inundated the low lying areas and the ground floor of the houses in the villages were covered with water

Many livestock were drowned and standing crops destroyed. Fortunately, in this case too there was no loss of life as affected persons were evacuated by the Army.

On August, 11, additional columns of the Army provided relief to the marooned people whose houses were submerged in water.

Further, the Army provided temporary accommodation, fresh water, medical assistance and rations. Army helicopters dropped essential engineering equipment to drain out the stagnant water

Meanwhile, the mammoth relief and rescue operation in Leh is continuring. The Indian Armed Forces and the civil administration are busy clearing landslides and the Border Road Organisation is engaged in restoring traffic on the National Highway connecting Ladakh to the rest of the country. A segment of four to five kilometers on the road between Leh-Khalsi will see as many as eight Bailey bridges being laid to restore vehicular movement.

Meanwhile, the Army kitchen at Choglamsar continues to provide food and drinking water to over 2000 villagers. 200 others at Bazgo and Nimu and about 100 at Hanoyogma continue to be provided food and shelter by the Army.

The Indian Air Force has been constantly ferrying supplies and equipment to the disaster struck region. These include stores of the National Disaster Management Authority, sophisticated communication equipment of the BSNL.and trained disaster management specialists.

The Army has deployed its helicopters to airlift ration and medicines to Phyang and Nimu , while the IAF Cheetah helicopters evacuated the seriously ill and dehydrated foreigners from inaccessible areas . 28 foreign nationals including two children were airlifted from Rumtse at a height of 14000 ft and and seven were airlifted from Marko valley in a day-long operation involving 40 rescue sorties.

The Army also evacuated nine foreigners stranded at Bimah to Kargil by road. Many more were evacuated from Lamayuru, Biamah, Pang, Rumtse and Marakha valleys . Efforts are on to locate and provide support to tourists who may be still stranded in the region.

The figures narrated above may give a wrong impression of the scale of the disaster. Combating natural disasters in areas like Leh and Kargil requires a hundred times more effort than what is required in the plains. The magnitude of the problem at hand has to be viewed in this context.

Against this backdrop, the meeting of the All Party delegation with the Prime Minister has been generating a great deal of media attention. Probably the Prime Minister did not wish to lose any time in engaging the people of the Valley.

He had, in any case, given comprehensive direction's to all agencies involved in management of the crisis at Leh before meetin members of the all party delegation. What is, however, disturbing is the attitude of the Kashmiri leadership.

The separatists who profess to represent the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have not even bothered to reach out to the people who have lost everything in this disaster. One expected them to pay attention to the emergency at hand.

The nation should be sensitive to the scale of calamity and it has to respond with its well known spirit of nationalism. By Jaibans Singh(ANI)

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