Commendable rescue and relief operations by the Indian armed forces
It is a national calamity. The massive floods, dubbed as the ‘Himalayan tsunami’ in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, have claimed over 900 lives, according to the Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, while over a lakh people have so far been evacuated. At the forefront of the rescue and relief operations are the personnel from the Indian armed forces, helping the state governments in what is termed as one of the largest rescue and relief operations in recent history. Making the rescue and relief operations really difficult have been several factors including the hostile terrain and inclement weather.
Despite these hindrances, the personnel of the armed forces, along with the government agencies and non-governmental organisations, are tirelessly working almost round the clock to evacuate thousands of pilgrims stranded in the mountainous region.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has pressed into service several helicopters and other aircraft, including the latest induction the C-130J for reconnaissance purpose. Called ‘Operation Rahat’ the IAF has been able to evacuate thousands of people and also provide relief material in the region. The risky operation has taken the toll of five IAF personnel along with men belonging to paramiliatry forces when their helicopter crashed. Undeterred by this tragedy, the IAF personnel have responded to the call of duty admirably. The IAF has deployed 37 helicopters, while the Army has pressed into service 13 helicopters, all on continuous sorties to rescue people. The Army has deployed more than 8,000 troops, the Border Roads Organisation over 3,000 personnel and so on. We salute all these personnel who have selflessly rendered humanitarian work on a warfooting.
This brings to the fore the question of disaster management. The need of the hour is that the governments, both at the Centre and states, have to come up with disaster management preparedness programmes. The Uttarakhand disaster has exposed glaring inadequacies in the way we have been handling calamities.
It is over seven years since the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (NDMA) was passed, but there is no National Plan for Disaster Management yet in place. Do we have to wait for the governments, irrespective of the political denomination, to wake up only after thousands of lives have been lost? We hope not.
In this issue, we have covered extensively the various relief operations, besides a show report from the Paris Air Show which saw the dominance of Russian aircraft, in the absence of American combat aircraft strapped by the budgetary considerations.
In an interview, Air Marshal D.C. Kumaria, the outgoing Vice Chief of the Air Staff, IAF, has talked about IAF’s move towards acquiring cutting-edge technologies and also how the IAF had the lowest rate of accidents last year. In yet another interview, Lt General Narendra Singh, Deputy Chief of Armed Forces (P&S), Indian Army, has updated on the status of the different acquisition programmes of the Indian Army.
In his fortnightly column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has suggested that the government take a call and bifurcate what should be developed by the private sector and what should be by the DRDO-PSUs in order to give the required impetus to focused defence production.
We look forward to your feedback as to help us sharpen our coverage of events and also analysis.