Horrific disasters like this not only act as a wake up call that there is an urgent need to once again balance the ecosystem, but also bring people closer and test the courage of the country to stand tall and united whenever the need arises. We take a look at how the entire country has come together for Jammu and Kashmir flood relief.
“The last time I spoke to my mother and brother was on Sunday morning. They had taken shelter in the attic of the house as flood waters had occupied the first two floors of the house. My mother is diabetic and I have no clue whether or not she has the medicine to take care of her health. The telecommunication breakdown has made matters worse and I have no information,” says Khalida Bano, one of the many victims of horrific floods in Jammu and Kashmir.
While we wait for this terrible incident to pass and hope for a quick recovery by the state, we can’t help but think about various reasons that might have caused this disaster.
As Jammu and Kashmir battles its worst flood in 100 years, killing over 200 people along with thousands who are still waiting to be rescued, there is a similarity between this disaster and Uttarakhand disaster last year; authorities of both the states ignored the warning from the weather department which led to a greater devastation.
The meteorological department issued warning of heavy rains in Jammu and Kashmir every day since September 2 but the government failed to foresee the extent of disaster that could take place.
The reason behind Jammu & Kashmir disaster is also similar to Uttarakhand’s – increased urbanization, disturbed ecosystem and a troubled monsoon. We cannot control natural disasters, but we can limit the excessive damage by paying attention to the warning signs. The best example for this is last year’s Cyclone Phailin which hit Odisha. The state government took the right precautions and ensured that there was minimum damage to life and property.
Horrific disasters like this not only act as a wake up call that there is an urgent need to once again balance the ecosystem, but also bring people closer and test the courage of the country to stand tall and united whenever the need arises. Apart from the government and various organizations, individuals across the country have also come forward to help those affected by the disaster.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been extensively carrying rescue operations in the affected area. Indian Army’s use of social media is also commendable as they are using it to regularly update people about the latest happenings, sharing a list of rescued people and photographs. Their Facebook and Twitter profiles are being regularly updated with latest information and they have been replying to all the queries asap.
Over 1,10,000 people have been pulled out so far. The Indian Army has deployed approximately 30,000 troops for the rescue operations, along with the world’s biggest chopper, MI-26. From distributing water bottles and food packets on a large scale to restoring telecommunications by providing nine satellite phones to the state administration accompanied by 38 generators to charge the phones, the army is leaving no stone unturned to help the victims. They have set up around 19 relief camps in the state and 20 percent of the water supply has been restored too.
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In an extra ordinary act of dedication, the Indian army also rebuilt two bridges in Poonch and Jammu within 24 hours. This bridge is the only link between Poonch and Rajouri. The army engineers also made a temporary bridge called “Rahat Setu” across Tawi River in just 16 hours. This bridge will join people from 45 disconnected villages. Take a look at their tremendous efforts here:
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A bank account has been opened by the Jammu and Kashmir government for receiving donations for the flood-affected people. People can donate under the title of Chief Minister’s Flood Relief Fund, J&K, and can deposit their donation in any branch of J&K Bank in Account No.0110040100001275; IFSC Code JAKAO MOVING, says this report in India Today.
Government of other states have also come together to extend the helping hand. A fund of Rs. 10 crore was extended by Chattisgarh government for the flood relief. Gujarat and Bihar government sent around 75,000 food packets to the affected areas. Apart from this, PM Narendra Modi also announced Rs. 100 crore assistance to Jammu and Kashmir. The government is using Google’s person finder to track missing people in Jammu & Kashmir. The site has tracked 2,600 people so far.
While all the departments of the government and the army are working day and night to improve the situation, many private organizations and corporate houses have also come forward to extend their help.
Air India announced that they would carry flood affected people from Jammu and Kashmir free of cost. Two aircrafts with a capacity of 220 seats were deployed to fly to Srinagar carrying doctors, medicines and other relief materials.
Many NGOs and volunteers have come forward to support the victims. A bunch of volunteers started a web portal called jkfloodrelief.org to extend support. The frequently updated website keeps a track of donations required and also mentions the centres and details of people you can contact to extend help. With support from Indigo Airlines and Cipla, they have managed to send various consignments of relief material from Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai to Jammu and Kashmir. Another voluntary organization launched on Facebook from Bangalore has also been sending relief material like blankets, medicines and food packets to the affected areas.
Many students who were trapped in the terrible flood for over four days were rescued by a sports teacher S Charak. As the water level went up, he took the students along and broke the wall hoping it will fall down but due to heavy water flow it went further up. Though scared and trapped, he took a wise decision and made boats from foam mattresses with the help of some students. He took students to a higher platform one by one on that boat and was later helped by CRPF personnel who facilitated a bridge for them to climb.
In this terrible situation, Ahmad Hospital, one of the only functional hospitals left with a 20-bed capacity, has been treating the patients day and night. The doctors performed 90 surgeries in just three days. The small team of doctors have been doing everything from treating patients to cleaning floors in this situation of distress and lack of staff.
In Srinagar, Yasir Khan and Ruhina Sameer started a call centre to answer the calls of suffering people. They claim to have answered over 45,000 calls in five days and have also received several thousand texts on Whatsapp.
People are coming in droves from far-off villages to accompany the army and NRDS personnel for the rescue operations. They are bringing along food packets and other rescue material with them.
As lakhs of people are still battling with the devastating floods, let us all extend our help to the rescue efforts underway or think of other small ways in which to offer support.