Incessant rains in large parts of Northern Gujarat & Southern Rajasthan in the later half of July 2017 threw normal life out of gear. The areas worst hit by floods were Banaskantha and Patan districts in Gujarat and Jalore and Sanchore in Rajasthan.
Realising the gravity of the situation, the State Emergency Operation Cell requested the Indian Army and IAF to augment rescue and relief effort in the flood affected areas of Mehasana, Deesa, Banaskantha and Patan. The HQ Southern Command, Indian Army and HQ South Western Air Command already maintaining vigil, having kept men and equipment ready to respond- swung into action aiming to provide succour to their brethren in distress.
More than 100 Composite Teams of the Indian Army were deployed in the worst affected areas. Troops of the Konark Corps and Golden Katar Division operated 24x7 to help rescue civil population from the inundated areas. In addition to the Composite Teams there were more than 46 Engineer Task Forces of the Indian Army using Assault Boats to traverse the inundated areas during the rescue missions. Over 28 Army Medical & Veterinary teams provided first aid and medical help to the affected persons and animals. Indian Army troops were relentlessly involved in rescue operations in the flood affected areas fighting bad weather, poor communications and connectivity.
In all, the Army rescued 3699 people in Gujarat itself, mainly in the worst affected areas of Banaskantha District. The other areas where Army undertook relief operation in Rajasthan included Sanchore and Jalore where over 871 civilians were rescued from the flood waters.
HQ South Western Air Command deployed Mi-17 and Chetak / Cheetah helicopters at various locations in the State. Under the challenging weather conditions with limited ground reference, these helicopters rescued numerous people in the region. A patient in dire need of dialysis was airlifted to safety in the shortest possible time during one such rescue mission.
Despite inclement weather, a total of 193 sorties were flown in Gujarat area and 32 in Rajasthan by the IAF. During these rescue operations, the IAF dropped over 75000 Kgs of relief material and evacuated over 850 people from flood affected areas.
A dedicated Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Cell was activated at HQ SWAC, Gandhinagar to monitor the relief operations round the clock. A Radar was also operationalised at Deesa for communication, which was specially transported by an AN-32 aircraft to Ahmedabad and there-after ferried by road to the location.
The combined efforts put in by the Indian Army and IAF working in close coordination with the Civil Administration and other rescue agencies like the NDRF, SDRF, BSF and others helped saved numerous lives in the two states.
- Wg Cdr Abhishek Matiman