The September of 2014 was a tragic month for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It was the time when the region witnessed disastrous floods across majority of its districts caused by torrential rainfall.
The incessant rains which were triggered by cloudburst led to the overflowing of River Jhelum which swelled much above the safety mark, causing flash floods in many parts of the district.
The temerity of the disaster was so high that almost the entire Srinagar had been washed out besides flooding in other areas. The authorities had declared it the most severe disaster to have occcurred in the valley in the last 100 years. This tragedy claimed about 280 lives in the Indian state only, besides the loss of life that it had caused in the adjoining areas that fall in the neighbouring country, Pakistan.
The overflowing river had ravaged houses, hotels, shops, etc., and people were compelled to seek refuge on the terrace of the buildings that did not completely immerse in the gushing waters. Even hotels
packed with tourists were submerged. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi called it a national calamity. In the Jammu division, landslides triggered by heavy rainfall had damaged roads, dozens of buildings, bridges and crops. Vehicular traffic had been stopped at the Jammu-Pathankot national highway, Katra-bound trains were halted.
To contain the damage and rescue those stuck, the Centre had involved the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. The rescue operation included 82 aircrafts and helicopters, and 300 boats. People were evacuated on boats and then airlifted to safer areas. Food and other necessary supplies were air-dropped to the people. All communication lines were damaged. The launched an operation to restore the mobile services through satellite network and telecom network.
According to the Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, the disaster had caused an unprecedented havoc in the state. The Indian army in the Northern Command launched ‘Operation Megh Rahat’ in which over 185 relief columns were employed.
The army successfully evacuated more than 11,500 people to safer places. It has also provided food, shelter and medicines to more than 5,000 people of the flood-hit state. Immediately after the waters receded, the Indian army, along with the cooperation of the local youth, took to restoring schools, hospitals and other buildings. The infrastructure of the state had suffered the most and it is believed that it would take another 20 years to rebuild the Kashmir that existed before the floods.
However, the Centre left no stone unturned in meeting as well as mitigating the effects of the disaster and the rescue efforts were well-coordinated. The Kashmir disaster reiterated that a natural calamity can strike anywhere, anytime. It is the preparedness on our part that counts in such situations.