As rising Sutlej waters pummeled Punjab’s Jalandhar district, 28 rescue teams were swift off the blocks in plucking people out of their flooded homes and fields to safety. In four days since, 28 teams of 20 men each have rescued 491 persons, including men, women and children, apart from supplying food and medicines to around 10,000 still stranded.
The rescue work spanned 70 villages in two subdivisions — Shahkot and Phillaur. These 28 units include 18 NDRF, three SDRF and seven teams from the Army.
“Had they not saved me, I would have got washed away in the floodwater which had risen till the rooftop of my small single storey house in village Kothe, which is one of the most affected villages in Jalandhar” said Dalbir Kaur (40), while alighting from an NDRF boat along with her two daughters.
Swaran Ram (45) of Jalal Khurad village said that Army team was the first to reach their village.
“Army men were the first to come during that hour of extreme anxiety for us. Other social organisations came later,” said Swaran, who was among the many who were supplied food packets while being stranded at their rooftops. On Thursday, Swaran Ram took an Army boat out, while his family stayed behind. The family is among many who have refused to leave their house and cattle behind.
SP R P S Sandhu, who is Nodal Officer of these rescue teams in Jalandhar, said: “Each team is making several rounds in the flood hit areas on motorboats and on inflatable row boats.” He recalled how rising waters kept the teams on their toes 24X7, and how they continue to carry out the job at hand refusing to be overwhelmed by inundated localities and intense humidity.
“We were stranded on the rooftop of our house for 20 hours when the NDRF came and rescued us along with our children,” said Mahinder Singh of Chak Wadala village, where floodwater level had touched 10-12 feet.
Each team in the field includes an action group of experts to handle complicated rescue manoeuvres, said Army officials. An Army jawan The Indian Express spoke to during one such operation said: “When we are able to save a life, the feeling is something that cannot be explained in words.”
After saving 88 in a day in Ferozepur, NDRF team moves to Kapurthala
After rescuing 88 persons in a single day in Ferozepur Tuesday, an NDRF team, led by Sub-Inspector Bihari Lal and Inspector Anil Yadav, has now moved on to Kapurthala for further operations.
The 25-member strong team was deployed in Ferozepur for four days. On August 20, the team rescued 29 males, 36 females and 23 children from Nihalewala village.
“We did not count the number of rounds we made that day. Water started rising all of a sudden and hence we had to rush to the village to save people. All I know is that we started at morning 10 am and stopped riding the motorboat at 8 pm….We were just doing our jobs,” said Bihari Lal.
NDRF’s team was on a standby mode in Ferozepur on August 21, while on August 22, they moved to Kapurthala where more help is needed.
In total, 700 persons have been recused from Ferozepur villages by Army as well as the NDRF in the last three days. Out of this, nearly 350 were from Ferozepur’s border villages and rest from Zira.
While the NDRF leaves, Ferozepur still has Army rescue teams on stand-by. Ferozepur SDM Amit Sood said, “As water has started receding, things have started improving but they are not normal fully. NDRF has moved on and we are having three columns of Army still with us…Movement of people in and out of villages has started via boats, but not many have moved back to their houses yet.”
According to Ferozepur DC Chander Gaind,”We salute the selfless service service of NDRF and Army. Their quick response helped many stuck in floods.”
Although 27 relief centres were created in Ferozepur urban and Zira area, but hardly any villagers went to these relief centres and rather preferred going to their relatives. (Written by Raakhi Jagga)