As Tamil Nadu grapples with the havoc wreaked by unprecedented rains, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is continuing its humanitarian assistance and relief operations in several flood-affected districts of the State.
During the operations on December 19, the IAF dropped over 10 tonnes of relief material and evacuated people stranded in isolated places.
Operating in inclement weather, IAF helicopters, Mi-17 V5 and ALH have flown for more than 20 hrs, air-dropped over 10 tons of relief material and evacuated stranded personnel, including woman and child, from rooftop/isolated areas, IAF said in a statement.
The IAF has deployed Medium Lift Helicopters (MLH) and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Dhruv for Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts.
Operating in inclement weather, IAF helicopters, Mi-17 V5 and ALH have flown more than 20 hrs, air-dropped over 10 tons of relief material and evacuated stranded personnel, including woman and child from rooftop / isolated areas: Southern Air Command IAF Media Co-ordination… pic.twitter.com/lV7Khjdy7S
— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2023
A Mi-17 V5 and four ALH of the IAF undertook HADR missions in the affected areas of Tamil Nadu. The helicopters dropped more than 10 tonnes of relief material and evacuated four civilians (including an infant and a pregnant woman), flying more than 22 hours today in Madurai.
Also, a Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the IAF rescued four stranded persons in the morning today; they included a pregnant woman and an infant aged a year and a half, IAF said in its statement.
#WATCH | The first Indian Coast Guard ALH helicopter took off from Madurai early morning with 350 kg of material to be airdropped in rain-affected areas of Thoothukudi. The second helicopter also loaded with 350 kg of relief materials will take off shortly. pic.twitter.com/1yYQkuEE9R
— ANI (@ANI) December 20, 2023
Earlier in the day, the Indian Army also conducted rescue operations at Nanalkadu and rescued around 168 people. This included 57 women, 39 men and 15 children, according to an official statement.
The Governor’s office informed on December 19 that the “Celebration of Advent Christmas” scheduled to be held on December 21 has been cancelled, given the serious situation prevailing in the Southern districts of the State due to heavy rains and severe floods.
— ANI (@ANI) December 20, 2023
Meanwhile, Governor RN Ravi chaired a meeting in Chennai and reviewed the rescue and relief operations undertaken by central agencies and defence forces in the rain and flood-affected southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
Senior officials of the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Southern Railways, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) attended the meeting, as per an official release from the Raj Bhavan.
— ANI (@ANI) December 20, 2023
The meeting was held to review the present situation and ongoing rescue and relief operations, to bring about better coordination, and to mobilise additional resources for the rescue and relief efforts in the flood-affected areas in the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu. The officers shared the grim situation, especially in Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli.
The Union Government agencies updated that they have placed their resources at the State Government’s disposal and are doing so as and when requisitioned by the State. They are providing rescue and relief as directed by State and district authorities and also wherever possible on their own.
According to the release, the Indian Army has deployed two columns. The Indian Navy updated that their personnel deployed in INS Kattabomman (Tirunelveli) and INS Parundu (Ramanathapuram) are reaching out to the people. The Indian Air Force is carrying out flying operations for rescue and relief through aircraft deployed in Sulur Air Base and Thiruvananthapuram. The Indian Coast Guard, with its rescue team, ALH, Dornier aircraft and Kayaks, are carrying out rescue operations in Thoothukudi, it added.
Meanwhile, the NDRF has also deployed ten teams to the affected areas from its 4th Battalion, based in Arakkonam.
Some agencies raised concerns about the absence of coordination in the deployment of personnel and a lack of appreciation of the overall situation in the affected districts, due to which they have no clear idea about the exact resource requirements and priorities in their deployment.
As per the release, the Governor has asked the agencies to mobilise additional standby resources given the grave situation and ensured that he will facilitate additional resources from central agencies.
The release also mentioned that no official from the State Government attended the meeting, though a request was sent to the Chief Secretary, the Government of Tamil Nadu, to send a representative to the meeting.
Meanwhile, BJP president K Annamalai hit out at Chief Minister MK Stalin for participating in the INDIA bloc meeting in Delhi, leaving the State in a time of distress.
“The devastation in South Tamil Nadu is of an extremely high magnitude. All the people are in a tent, which is by the BJP party, they are staying here. There is a substantial loss of property and belongings,” Annamalai said while speaking to ANI in Tirunelveli.
“What is the CM of Tamil Nadu doing? Sitting in Delhi, participating in the INDIA alliance. The CM is more hell-bent on what the INDIA alliance is doing. not even caring about what is happening in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. What precautions they have taken? People did not get a warning. When you don’t get a warning, how will people save their important possessions,” he added.
Also, Tamil Nadu Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami urged the State Government to provide immediate relief to those people struggling for food since three days due to heavy rain and floods in the State. He also urged the State Government to announce Rs 10 lakh for the families of those who lost lives in the disaster.
“Rs 10 lakh compensation each should be announced for the families of those who lost their lives in heavy rainfall and floods. The government should give an immediate solution to people who were struggling without food for three days,” K Palaniswami said.
Earlier in the day, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, KKSSR Ramachandran, said that four districts in South Tamil Nadu – Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi and Kanyakumari – were affected by the rains in the last two days.
Speaking on the relief and rescue operations ongoing in the disaster-affected districts, Minister Ramachandran said that the work of delivering food by helicopter to stranded passengers is underway.
A total of 625 personnel and 230 trainee personnel are engaged in the operations across the State, he claimed. The Minister further said that medical camps will be set up in all four heavy rain-affected districts. Currently, the Tamil Nadu Government is acting with the main duty of saving people’s lives, he added.
(with inputs from ANI)