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.

Happy read­ing!

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