Over 1,10,000 people have been rescued so far, but hundreds are still trapped as the flood waters finally receded. Officials said 215 people have died in the Jammu and Kashmir floods. This is probably the biggest disaster of present time; be it Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir or Gujarat, what we lack is disaster management. Why there are no advance warnings nowadays inspite of technological advancement? What is the use of space satellites, Chandrayan etc, if we cannot save lives on earth? Gushing of rivers and submerging of houses-how can it happen suddenly? Last year Kedarnath was a lesson, now Kashmir. When are we going to be prepared for such natural calamities and save human lives, by not letting it frequent annually? Have our authorities awaken even now and are they trying to find permanent solutions or are they just taking advantage of the situation to start blame-game.? It seems Valley people did not expect this kind of crisis coming to them and were not prepared for it.
State government should have taken preventive measures before seeking help from the Centre. Lakhs of people are still stranded in flood-affected Jammu and Kashmir areas even as the armed forces and teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) stepped up relief and rescue operations after the weather further improved. The rescue teams have evacuated about 47,200 people, including 24,000 from Srinagar city. Among those rescued from Srinagar were the Ambassador of Nepal, 16 members of his delegation and a 28-member Pakistani golf squad, which was part of a SAARC team. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah described the floods as the worst in 109 years, and said the government would reach out to all the victims.
Indian Air Force joined the effort to provide aid to the people in the flood-affected areas. It announced two additional flights to fly out tourists stranded in Srinagar free of cost. Defence officials said the number of medical teams had been increased from 65 to 80 and a field hospital had been set up. Ready-to-eat meals and blankets were being provided to the victims. Nearly 200 boats have been mobilised and the Army has pressed 13 Chetak and five Advanced Light Helicopters into service. Indian Air Force helicopters and transport aircrafts have undertaken 451 sorties and dropped 563 tonnes of relief material. But telecommunication links in the Valley continues to be down.
To restore road connectivity, five task forces of the Border Roads Organisation have been deployed. They have restored the connectivity between Batote and Kishtwar. The Centre has asked the J&K government to post on its website the list of people rescued from different parts of the State. Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said the anger about the delay in rescue team reaching them was justified but the magnitude of the disaster was “unprecedented.” Our disaster management network wakes up post disaster. There is no link between warning and precaution. Orissa was a good exception. Irony is NDMA built an opulent building in Delhi, not infrastructure for disaster management. The Central and state governments should have full-fledged Miniseries of Disaster Prevention and Management. Their responsibilities should include prevention of floods by strengthening/raising river banks, taking water to far off lakes through canals, recharging ground water by new methods so that the water flowing to the river is reduced,(this will incidentally be a way of fighting another disaster viz drought), constructing bridges across rivers, constructing walls along roads/railway lines in hilly areas to prevent landslides, constructing walls along seashore to prevent sea water entering houses etc.
Fire-fighting establishment should come under this Ministry. Many are trapped in Srinagar alone that submerged in flood waters during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday. Officials said 50,000 marooned people have been rescued so far in the State, but they also confirmed on Wednesday that many more could still be trapped in submerged areas. The water level of the Jhelum continued to recede in Srinagar and throughout the Kashmir Valley. All the rescued people narrated stories of the worst nightmares of their lives. They said the cries for help of many others in their areas had stopped, indicating they had either died or had resigned to their fate and knew the chances of their survival were bleak.
It’s sad to see authorities in Kashmir collecting the bodies of women and children floating in the streets as anger mounted over what many survivors said a bungled operation to help those was caught in the region’s worst flooding. However, although the authorities and government failed, we have to appreciate those people who are working for us day and night. May be we are thankless people that is why god is showing this day to us. Just pray and hope that all should be rescued instead of blaming others.