New Delhi, June 25: Having one commander helped ITBP and NDRF to coordinate their rescue efforts and succeeded in bringing home thousands from flood ravaged Uttarakhand.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief Ajay Chadha is also heading the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and that helped both the agencies to deploy their resorces optimally in remote areas of Uttarakhand.
On Sunday, the NDRF flew three UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) through the day over the hills as its personnel along with ITBP and Army jawans combed the valley to ensure complete evacuation.
The NDRF owns one UAV named Netra and hired two more UAVs. The images from the UAVs were monitored in real time. They did not want to leave behind even one survivor in the inaccessible areas of Kedarnath valley.
With this Uttarakhand experience, the NDRF, that was known by its parent organisation National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), has acquired experience and expertise. It can now be called India's only specialized agency for disaster management.
Its force of 600 people, the NDRF rescued 6,234 stranded people from various areas in Uttarakhand.
Its operation in Kedarnath valley stood out as all survivors were rescued before a fresh spell of rain lashed the valley.
Along with ITBP and armed forces personnel, the NDRF helped carve new routes to the inaccessible areas around Rambada, Junglechetti and Bharochetti.
Meanwhile, as rescue operations get stretched in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand, the ITBP today decided to send in a fresh contingent of its troops and bring out those tired and exhausted. The paramilitary force, according to sources, is replacing close to 45 men with an equal strength in the areas of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Harshil and Gaurikund.
"Yes, we are rotating our boys.They will be sent on IAF choppers as soon as weather clears," (ITBP) DIG Amit Prasad said today.
The ITBP has been at the forefront of the rescue operations since June 17 when flash floods and rains devastated large swathes of areas in the state. With the force having based three battalions in the state as part of border guarding duties along the Sino-Indian frontier, it becomes the first responder in this area in case of disasters.
Close to 1,000 ITBP men are deployed for these tasks in the state. While three ITBP jawans were brought down from Kedarnath after being air evacuated yesterday, six had earlier been rescued after they were trapped with local people in Kedarnath since flash floods broke in the area.
The ITBP and NDRF have together found 394 dead bodies in the valley and the NDRF helped state authorities with mass cremation as an epidemic breakout looms large due to decay.
What ITBP team could do:
1. Made Gaurikund safe and stable. Established land route for people to leave as it is difficult to evacute large number of people by air.
2. Evacuated everybody from places between Kedarnath and Gaurikund.
3. Another land route to Junglechetti.
4. First to respond and drop down at Kedarnath. ITBP jawans were taken to Kedarnath by private helicopters on June 19.
5. Built a helipad at Gaurikund and then land route to Sonprayag.
6. Built the Rambada helipad.
7. Since mountains are at a gradient of almost 80 degrees plus the jawans built land route by cutting into the slope. The track has to be at least two-and-a-half feet wide. Boulders have to removed.
8. Old and sick people were ferried on the back of the jawans.
9. AT Ghaghariya, on the Hemkhund side , the ITBP built bridges because people had to cross rivers.
10. In Gangotri sector, land route was make to evacute people and bring them to Harsil. A foot track has been built between Badrinath and Joshimath as there have been massive landslides and roads have been cut off. In Hanuman Chatti, a 4-5 kms stretch of road has been washed away.