The Kerala government on Sunday held a farewell meeting to honour the defence and paramilitary forces and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) who participated in the rescue and relief operations during the floods.
Addressing the function held at Air Force Station here, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Not only we the people, the posterity will remember you with gratitude and appreciation. Kerala will never forget your helping hand in times of the distress.’’
Vijayan said but for the initiatives of the defence forces, Coast Guard, paramilitary forces and the NDRF, the death toll in the calamity would have been much more.
“We could directly witness the bold initiative they took to rescue people from flood waters and isolated areas, braving adverse circumstances, complex landscapes that were totally strange or alien to them. The way the proud warriors of the defence brought succour to the needy cannot be explained in words. When tear and rain became one, you rose up and spread warmth like the sun,” Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister added, “The service the defence personnel rendered in rescuing helpless people and assisting the civil authorities is creditworthy. All that we can say is that your services will be kept in mind in the times to come too, with gratitude and appreciation. Thank you for raising your will higher than the flood water.’’
Air Marshal B Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, said the farewell given to the forces was a very rare gesture.
He said the rescue effort had been phenomenal. While the topography of Kerala, adverse weather and the high number of flooded regions made the mission challenging, the said the forces could reach the remotest corners of the affected areas, he said.
Equating the rescue mission to a war, Suresh said the Chief Minister led from the front. He said the clear directions from the Chief Minister helped the forces to focus and reach the needy. He also appreciated the role of fishermen and volunteers in the rescue operations.
Citations were presented by the Chief Minister to Air Marshal Suresh, Rear Admiral R J Nadkarni, Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command; Brigadier C G Arun, Station Commander, Pangode Military Station; Rekha Nambiar,
NDRF Commandant; Sanatan Jena, DIG, Coast Guard; Giriprasad, IG, CRPF; B C Nair, DIG, BSF; Vishal Anand, Commandant, ITBP; Dhanya Sanal, Defence PRO, and to all military and paramilitary forces who participated in the rescue mission.