J&K floods: Centre rejects claims of 'selective rescue' by Army, Air Force and NDRF

Centre on Thursday rejected allegations that NDRF, Army and Air Force carried out "selective rescue" operations in the flood affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir saying these forces were helping whomsoever possible.

PTI| Updated: Sep 18, 2014, 21:04 PM IST

New Delhi: Centre on Thursday rejected allegations that NDRF, Army and Air Force carried out "selective rescue" operations in the flood affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir saying these forces were helping whomsoever possible.

"It is not right to say that selected few were rescued. It was the biggest operation launched by Centre. The scale of the present operations was bigger than Uttarakhand (rains and flood tragedy last year) and cyclone Phailin (in Odisha). Our aim was that all agencies coordinated with each other," Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth said.

He said the agencies prioritised and rescued those "whose lives were in danger."

"So, this belief is not right (that selected rescue was undertaken). It was not physically possible to rescue everyone at the same time. Some constraints were there...I would not say selected few were rescued but I would compliment them (rescue agencies) rather," he told news channel NDTV India.

Seth said all agencies, who are important stakeholders in this case, are "analysing why did it (floods) happen?"

The Secretary also rejected the allegations that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was defunct as it had no members.

"The body does not have members but Secretary NDMA is in Kashmir. It is not right to say that NDMA is defunct. The NDRF functions under the NDMA and it's very much functional," he said.

Seth said the National Disaster Response Force and Army worked tirelessly, day and night.

Even the efforts by the jawans of police and CRPF is appreciated, Seth said, adding, "but these first responders, who were already present in the state, were also affected."

"Maybe if someone was not rescued, they must be spreading it. It is not possible to reach everyone at one go," he said rejecting allegations of a biased approach towards relief and rescue operations undertaken by these agencies.

Seth said the Central Government had sent officers to flood ravaged Jammu and Kashmir in order to strengthen the arms of the State and "ultimately it was upto the State Government to send things (relief material) to the people," as soon as possible.

The top bureaucrat said the communication links in the State are being restored and till now 370 boats and 65 aircraft of different variants have been pressed into service.

He that 3,300 tonnes of dry rations and 1,300 tonnes of cooked food has till now been sent to the state apart from abundant amount of fuel and petroleum.

Seth said life was now inching toward normalcy in the Kashmir Valley.

"Everything was airlifted. No road connectivity was there and the helicopters were doing round-the-clock sorties," he said, adding that the safest place to stock relief materials in Srinagar was the airport and hence, all material was kept there.

The Cabinet Secretary said basic medicines requested by the state government are being sent and the Health ministry is coordinating on this issue.

Life saving medicines, oxygen cylinders and huge quantity of blankets and tents are being sent, he added. Chemicals for safe disposal of carcasses is also being sent.

Seth added that out the 6,000 mobile towers in the state 2,500 towers were affected due to flood waters. "So, in future we trying to think how it can be stopped," he said.