Besides the local population, the Army too has been hit by the floods in Jammu and Kashmir. With the Badami Bagh Cantonment, the headquarters of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, submerged, the ordnance depots, family quarters, vehicles and offices have been damaged. Moreover, landslides on the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh highway and other arterial roads have affected the Army’s crucial winter stocking exercise at the forward posts.
“The stocking exercise involves gathering stocks for three-six months as the forward posts get cut off during the winter months. This has been obstructed as in the first few days, before the relief material reached us, the Army distributed its own rations, even as the flow of supplies have been affected due to blockage of roads,” said an officer.
“Along Jammu-Ramsu-Benihal NH-44, there are three breaches… Work is going on at full pace… Thirty-seven trucks came across the Sinthan Pass yesterday, and 60 from Banihal side. If successful, we will have good convergence at Anantnag,” said Lt General Subrata Saha, GOC, HQ 15 Corps, Srinagar.
The opening of these roads, which has been undertaken by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) along with the Army, is likely to restore flow of vehicular traffic in the next 48 hours.
The floods have affected the connectivity between Srinagar and Anantnag, along the Jammu-Srinagar NH-44 and the Jammu-Sinthan-Srinagar highway NH 244. Efforts are on to restore the connectivity between Srinagar and Ganderbal, which further ensures a link to Kargil and Leh.
The Jammu-Srinagar-Leh road is strategically important as it the Army’s major formations under its Udhampur-based Northern Command headquarters, which collectively ensure defences along the Line of Control and Line of Actual Control. It is crucial for ensuring flow of rations, fuel and military supplies to these major formations and units/ sub units under them along the LoC in Uri, Machchal, Gurez, Tangdhar sectors.
“The Jammu-Srinagar highway is clogged at Pampore and Sempura and it will open in a few days. We have to now make up for the supplies that we have lost,” said Colonel Brijesh Pandey, Colonel GS (IW), HQ, 15 Corps.
While the Army has not had a chance to assess its lossess yet, over 100 of its heavy vehicles were submerged under water for almost five days. It also lost over 300 livestock at its military farm.