The situation in Kerala is improving and the rescue operations are almost complete, with efforts now moving towards relief and rehabilitation, a senior Navy officer said on Monday.
Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains have claimed 210 lives in Kerala since August 8 and displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes. "As far as the Navy is concerned, we have stepped up our efforts specifically in the last four-five days and today, as you know, the effort is moving more towards providing relief and subsequently towards rehabilitation," Vice Admiral Girish Luthra Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Western Naval Command (WNC) told reporters in Srinagar.
"The initial part of rescue has been more or less completed, although a few people may be trapped in different areas. We will be reaching to them and making sure that they are also taken to safe locations," he said.
Vice Admiral Luthra said the rescue operations in Kerala started about two weeks ago and were gradually stepped up as the rains intensified. "The entire effort is being coordinated from Delhi. As far as the defence forces are concerned, it is coordinated by the Defence Crisis Management Group and at the national level too it is (being) coordinated by the National Crisis Management Group," he said.
He said the situation was expected to come under control soon with the support from all agencies, the central and state governments and a large number of NGOs and individuals. Vice Admiral Luthra was in Srinagar to attend the ceremony for affiliation of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment with INS Kochi and 51 Squadron Air Force.
The ceremony was held at the JAKLI Regimental Centre at Rangreth, on the outskirts of Srinagar.
"It is a very historic day. Today, a frontline ship of the Indian Navy -- INS Kochi -- has been affiliated with JAKLI. It is for the first time that we are doing this affiliation between the naval unit and an Army regiment outside a naval base," the FOC-in-C said.
"We will have personnel from JALKI visiting our ships and also sailing our ships and similarly, our personnel from INS Kochi will visit their various locations, including off-locations, and learn about the functioning of various battalions of JAKLI, he added.
"This will promote better understanding and better synergy between our two services," he said. Speaking on the occasion, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Lt Gen Satish Dua said thousands of Jammu and Kashmir youths turning up at Army recruitment rallies showed that not all felt alienated.
He said, "It is true that we have some of our children who are misguided, who are on the wrong path and we hope that they will get back into the mainstream soon. But there is also another face of the youth of J-K. If everybody is so alienated, then why do we have youths coming out in such huge numbers for recruitment rallies of the Army?"
Lt Gen Dua said there had been an "improvement" in the situation in the state this summer, with terrorist encounters, stone-pelting under control compared to the previous years.