In what is dubbed as the largest in several decades, the Armed Forces have mounted massive rescue and relief operations in flood and landslide affected Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Even the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) joined the effort with 3,000 of its men and equipment to clear blocked roads and to bring stranded people to safety.
While the IAF deployed its specialist C-130J planes for reconnaissance mission as part of its relief work codenamed ‘Operation Rahat’, it also deployed 20 other aircraft, including eight Mi-17, 10 Dhruv helicopters, an AN-32 and an Avro fixed-wing aircraft to carry out rescue and delivery missions to reach relief workers, food and medicines to remote parts of the states.
While the C-130J flew over the flood-affected areas in Dehra Dun, Uttarkashi, Kedarnath and Joshimath to track the critical areas to prioritise and facilitate disaster relief operations, the IAF helicopters evacuated around 1,000 people apart from reaching National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams to the worst-hit areas.
These helicopters also dropped 9,000 kg of relief material since Tuesday with the axis of IAF operations covering Phata, Guptkashi, Gaurikund, Kedarnath in Dehra Dun and Rampur, Karcham, Rincompeo and Sangla in Himachal Pradesh.
Four ALH helicopters of the Sarang Display Team too were deployed for relief operations. The AN-32 aircraft from Agra landed at Jollygrant air field on Wednesday, carrying 10 NDRF personnel.
Meanwhile, the Army commenced execution of ‘Operation Surya Hope’ to cater to the humanitarian and logistic needs in Badrinath, Hemkund and Kedarnath regions.
In the first phase, Army teams carried out reconnaissance of the area and air evacuation in isolated pockets along Govindghat-Badrinath road and Ghagriya-Hemkund track. The stranded people would brought to Badrinath and Ghagriya by Thursday. Focused air evacuation would commence from both the places from Friday, the Defence Ministry said. In the second phase, the Army would target Kedarnath region, where reconnaissance was undertaken on Wednesday. Troops would be concentrated at Sonprayag and Kedarnath and all marooned people would be brought to these spots on Friday.