In one of the biggest disaster relief operations in Punjab and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Haryana in recent years, close to 2000 Army troops have been deployed for rescue and relief work following the floods and landslides in the three states due to heavy rainfall. The Indian Air Force (IAF) too carried more than three dozen as part of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
In total, 26 Army columns of Western Command have been activated till Friday for flood relief operations and were crucial in providing necessary assistance in Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Roopnagar, Mohali, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ferozepur districts in Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh. An estimated 4,678 civilians have been evacuated till now, including 3,577 from Punjab alone.
A total 69 officers, 172 JCOs and 1,720 jawans, as part of flood relief columns, have been deployed for flood relief operations by Western Command. Army columns from Ambala, Patiala, Nabha, Sangrur, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and several other military stations are active in Punjab and Haryana.
The IAF has, in the last 48 hours, carried out a total 40 sorties, in which 126 people have been rescued and 17 tonnes of relief materials distributed in various areas.
Villages of Nihara, Allaudin Majra, Bishangarh, Segta, Bhunni, Mumni, Segti and Jansui in Ambala were provided with relief materials consisting of rations, tarpaulin sheets, fresh food and water bottles by M-17 helicopters.
In Ambala, Chaman Vatika Gurukul, a girls’ residential school, approached the Corps HQ for evacuation of students. A column was tasked to evacuate the girls from the hostel. The students were stranded on the first floor of the school after entered the ground floor. A column of two officers, three JCOS and 40 jawans was deployed for their evacuation. A total of 750 students and 40 faculty staff/teachers were shifted to safe location using boats and manpower.
The IAF has stated that airwarriors and all requisite assets such as M-17 helicopters, Chinook helicopters, An-32 and C-130 transport aircraft remain on standby to undertake required operations.
Three Army columns remain deployed in Jalandhar with one column each at Shahkot Lohian (Jalandhar district), Arifke (Ferozpur district) and Sultanpur Lodhi (Kapurthala district) in relief operations.
In Ambala, 12 columns are deployed for relief efforts while operations are in progress in Patiala district with four columns. Two columns are deployed in Moonak (Sangrur district). In addiiton, one column is deployed in Panipat one in Yamunanagar and two columns in Kaithal.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Col JS Sandhu, Advisor-Civil Military Affairs, Western Command, said the Army columns were activated after the state governments approached Western Command for help.
“The coordination and response from the respective Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police was one to one with column commanders and with higher officials at Corps HQs in Ambala and Jalandhar,” he said.