Pune: Devastating floods of Kerala once again show that there are no parallels to the Indian Army. Two engineer task force teams of 30 members led by two officers from College of Military Engineering, Pune was airlifted on August 15 and the teams are evacuating and rescuing people from the worst-affected south Kerala districts of Emakulam and Pathanamthitta.
Talking to Sakal Times from Thalawadi relief camp in Thiruvalla, Major Rajesh Upreti said, “These two districts are the worst-affected in the floods. The major challenge is that the elderly people simply refuse to leave their homes. Despite several attempts to persuade them, they refuse and continue to live there.”
Major Upreti said, “Most of them are either paralytic or suffering from diabetes. They have run out of medicines and do not have enough essentials left to survive. But they are steadfast and refuse to come out. Their children, who are in the relief camps, had to provide them medicines and other essential commodities.
“Today, we evacuated a young boy although the rescue operations have been called off,” said Major Upreti. “There are two medical camps at Thalawadi in secondary schools. People in the relief camp are happy as they have food, clothing, medicines and drinking water,” he said.
“The rescued people told us they remained untouched by the government machinery. They said: It was you who come here first. You are like angels to us,” said Major Upreti.
He added that when they reached there on August 15, the water level was 10 to 15 feet and people were stranded in their houses without any essentials.”
“In just four days, this team has brought hope to the town which was on the brink of despair and panic. Working for 16 to 18 hours, they ferried the homeless and sick who have been without food or water for close to 72 hours,” he said.
“During the rescue operations we also have to take care of our soldiers. Similarly, there were numerous snakes floating over the water, dead animals which may spread diseases especially foot and mouth disease,” said Major Upreti.
Major Upreti led the 120 Engineer Regiment while another team was led by Major Ravishankar.
“The team led by Maj Ravishankar recovered 6 bodies from the debris from Peravur averting major health calamity. The team restored the essential water supply for almost 3.5 lakh citizens of Ernakulam by repairing the water treatment plant, Aluva in less than 6 hrs,” said Maj Upreti.