New Delhi: Efforts are on to get the Vizag harbour fully functional at the earliest even as its airport prepares to begin civilian flight operations from tomorrow following the devastation wrought by cyclone Hudhud.
Visakhapatnam harbour has been declared safe for operations after a survey till the Outer Turning Basin was completed with wire sweeps, side-scan sonar and check- sounding.
Now, sounding checks will be held for the civil berths while a survey will also be done of the breakwater to ensure that the harbour is up and running as soon as possible, the Defence Ministry said in a statement here.
Continued efforts by the Navy in close liaison with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already resulted in the clearance of the airfield for day and night civilian flight operations from the coastal city.
A meeting was held yesterday with the airport authority to discuss the modalities for resumption of civil flight operations from INS Dega.
"All efforts are being made by the Navy to assist AAI and NDRF in making the Vishakhapatnam terminal ready for civil flight operations by October 17," the statement said.
A temporary helipad has also been made operational at the Naval Coastal Battery on Beach Road to facilitate smooth movement of civil officials who were monitoring the relief operations.
Naval communication personnel are assisting the telecom authorities and civil administration in restoring communication lines and connectivity is being progressively secured in the affected areas.
Hudhud, which struck India's eastern coast on October 12, left tens of thousands homeless and badly battered infrastructure in nearly a dozen districts, including in the port city of Visakhapatnam, which resembled?a war zone in the wake of the fury unleashed by the storm.
The cyclone claimed eight lives and forced over seven lakh people to take shelter in camps.
Giving details of rescue operation 'Lehar', the Defence Ministry statement said that community kitchens have been set up at various locations and food distribution was being carried out in coordination with local MLAs and public representatives.
However, based on inputs from the MLAs, some community kitchens have since been discontinued and the kitchens that are presently being run by the Navy are heavily subscribed, it said.
Additional air dropping of relief material was undertaken at Rambilli by Chetak helicopters as the area continues to be isolated in the aftermath of the cyclone. An aerial recce of the affected areas by Naval helicopters has also been done.
Relief material transported by IAF aircraft yesterday is being stored at INS Dega and would thereafter be shifted to feeder trucks for onward distribution in coordination with the civilian administration.
Suitable storage space has also been provided to civilian authorities for smooth distribution of the relief material, it said.
Aerial sorties for survey and relief operations, as requested by civilian authorities, would continue, as would the community kitchens being run by the Navy, the ministry said.
Clearance of trees and power lines in residential areas is being done and Navy personnel will continue to supplement and assist the efforts for the restoration of communications, water and power supply in the affected areas, it said.