As the worst floods to hit Jammu and Kashmir in six decades continue, about 400,000 people remaing stranded in the Kashmir Valley. The heav rains, however, have eased, allowing the scaling-up of a massive multi-agency rescue and relief effort in which nearly 43,000 people have so far been evacuated.
About 200 people are feared dead on account of the waters, landslides and house collapses since Tuesday last week.
Authorities are also racing to fix the telecommunication links that broke down Sunday afternoon.
“The big problem that is hampering rescue activities in the Valley is that telecom links have become dysfunctional… The Department of Telecommunications(DOT) is trying its best to restore the links quickly,” an official said.
Officials said the shortage of boats is also affecting rescue operations, despite 110 Army boats and 148 NDRF’s inflatable boats being in service. Meanwhile, more boats are being sent from Delhi.
A total of 61 Indian Air Force helicopters and transport aircraft undertook 354 non-stop sorties overnight to carry personnel and relief material to submerged parts of the Valley where about 100,000 troops are engaged in the rescue operations, Defence spokesman Col S D Goswami said in Jammu.
Lt Gen Subrata Saha, GoC 15 Corps, said the weather is improving and the water level has receded in Srinagar and other towns in South Kashmir.
“The weather has cleared and the intensity of the helicopter operations has picked up. In Srinagar, the water level has receded by 1.5 to 3 feet at some places but we are noticing an increase in water level on the northern side,” he said.
The water level in the famed Dal lake is also steadily rising.
Television images showed overflowing flood waters from Dal lake having entered the ground around Hazratbal shrine complex.
“A massive rescue and relief operations by the Indian Armed Forces, IAF and NDRF is on in Jammu and Kashmir with more helicopters and rescue materials including boats pressed into service today”, the Defence spokesman said.
“Armed Forces and NDRF (have) so far rescued 42,587 persons in different regions of J&K”, he said.
Bharatiya Sanchar Nigam Ltd is working with the Army and the Indian Air Force to restore mobile services through satellite network, while the telecom network is expected to be partially restored today, officials said.