Terming as “baseless” the reports that the Defence forces halted rescue operations after dark, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera on Thursday said the role played by the forces was “praiseworthy” during the rescue mission in the flood-ravaged state.
“It is clarified that the Kerala State Government, the Police Department, the Defence Forces, Para Military Forces, were all working hand in hand, and in total unison, which was the main reason for the success achieved in the rescue operations,” senior IPS Behera said in a press statement.
Behera was effusive in his praise for the Air Force, pointing out that the Air Force not only helped in airlifting stranded persons from flooded houses, lifting those requiring urgent medical aid, supply food items to marooned families, but they also played a major role in transporting troops and relief materials from all around the country to the flood-affected areas.
“It is reiterated that the role played by the Indian Air Force is actually praise worthy and goes much beyond their normal call for duty. The Air Force led by Air Marshal B Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command (SAC) practically worked on a 24 X 7 basis, in total coordination with the District Administration and the Police Department, both in Rescue and rehabilitation process,” he said.
The Kerala Police chief also praised role the played by the Army and Navy. “All the Defence Forces operated hand in hand with the Disaster Management Control Rooms and it was this coordination that helped in saving lives and in making this rescue operations successful,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Centre had launched massive rescue and relief operations in the state. “In one of the largest rescue operations, 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 Medical Teams of Defence forces, 58 teams of NDRF, 7 companies of CAPFs were pressed into service along with over 500 boats and necessary rescue equipments. They successfully saved over 60,000 human lives by rescuing them from marooned areas and shifting them to relief camps. Defence aircrafts and helicopters have made 1,084 sorties of duration 1,168 flying hours and airlifted 1,286 tonne of load and carried 3,332 rescuers,” the MHA said in a statement.
“The search and rescue operations and mobilisation of resources alone would cost the Central Government hundreds of crore of rupees,” it said.
The unprecedented deluge in Kerala has claimed more than 230 lives and left a trail of destruction across the state. As per the initial assesement, the state government has said that Kerala has suffered an estimated loss of over Rs 19,000 crore.