The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which has currently deployed 32 teams in the flood-affected areas including 25 teams in Sangli and Kolhapur districts, is readying medical teams for deployment in the affected areas.
The NDRF along with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in coordination with local authorities has till Sunday rescued and evacuated over four lakh people in Sangli and Kolhapur districts, which are the worst hit in the floods. These people have been moved to over 430 relief camps in the two districts.
At present, the NDRF has deployed a total of 32 teams across Maharashtra – Sangli (17), Kolhapur (7) and one each in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Dhule, Thane, Palghar, Nashik and Sindhudurg. Of the 32 teams, 19 are from the 5th Battalion of the NDRF headquartered at Sudumbare near Talegaon in Pune district, while 13 more have been flown in from Punjab (5), Odisha (5) and Gujarat (3). Follow Weather forecast today LIVE Updates
Speaking about the procedure of deployment and movement of the teams, 5th Battalion Commandant Anupam Srivastava said, “The state Disaster Management Unit of the relief and rehabilitation department of the state government gets the requisition from district administrations. The requisition is then forwarded to rescue agencies like the NDRF and others. At the Battalion HQ, we forward that information to the deputy commandants on the ground, who are leading the operations in districts. If new need arises at a particular location, teams which have completed rescue at one location are sent there.”
“As rescue and evacuation is nearing end, we will be sending out teams of doctors and nursing staff along with stocks of medicines needed during such calamities. We are initially sending two teams – one each in Kolhapur and Sangli. More teams will be sent later,” he added.
While a team of the NDRF comprises 45 personnel, to tackle calamities the teams are divided into 25 personnel each. The NDRF is currently operating over 110 rescue boats in the affected areas. Living arrangements for the teams are done by the local administration. The teams carry their own ration and are accompanied by their own cooks.
5th Battalion’s Deputy Commandant Sachchidanand Gawade said, “The teams carry out rescue work from 6 am till 9 pm with hardly any rest. We get immense help from local volunteers who work as guides for our teams. For the rescue operations we carry out, local support and information is necessary and valuable.”
127 teams of Southern Command conduct rescue operations in 4 states
The Pune-headquartered Southern Command of the Army is leading rescue efforts of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in the flood-hit areas in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu.
The Southern Command has set up a Joint Operations Centre to coordinate rescue and relief operations in the four states. Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General SK Saini, who visited the flood-affected areas in Sangli and reviewed the rescue operation on Saturday, said, “Our teams are currently deployed in and are conducting rescue operations in four states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. More teams are on stand-by in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, where the situation is being monitored. As many as 127 teams are current deployed in four states and the Southern Command is coordinating the efforts of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.” Many women who were rescued and safely evacuated in Sangli tied rakhis to Army, Navy and NDRF personnel as a sign of gratitude.
“Last year, we had floods in Kerala and restricted parts of Karnataka. We could focus on the limited geographical area and concentrate our resources. This time, four states are affected. It’s a large geographical area so our resources have also been dispersed. We have mobilised resources from as far as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh…We are currently using IAF helicopters but bad weather has hampered air operations. As weather conditions improve, more helicopters will be pressed into action to providing relief packets and rescue people. The deployed teams will continue to be here till the situation becomes normal,” he added.
Speaking about such operations, Saini said, “Every year before the monsoon, we conduct a reconnaissance of our area of responsibility, we check our equipment and rescue gear. All joint service structures are activated and communications are tested to ensure we can respond to contingencies immediately. Operations in Maharashtra started with Raigad and stranded trains near Mumbai. Then the focus shifted to Kolhapur and Sangli and then southward. Now we are deployed in Kodagu in Karnataka and Idukki and Malappuram in Kerala. As the floodwater recedes, there is likelihood of waterborne diseases spreading and 20 medical teams are being airlifted as a precaution.”
Meanwhile, the aircraft assets of the South Western Air Comm-and (SWAC) continued aid and relief missions to Kolhapur by flying lifesaving drugs and medicines, along with 22 personnel from the Army Medical Corps from Pune airbase, in two Avro aircraft.
Officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra governments are in constant touch with headquarters SWAC in assessing the relief measures undertaken by the Air Force. Helicopters are being employed from these places to rescue marooned people and air drop food. IAF officials said the SWAC headquarters has deployed adequate air assets in Pune, Mumbai, Baroda and Jamnagar and other air bases in the Command have been on standby to provide rapid assistance.