NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is on his way to Kerala to take stock of the grim flood situation there and review the status of rescue and relief operations.
Sources said he will undertake an aerial survey of the areas facing unprecedented deluge on account of heavy rain. “The suffering of the people of Kerala, has been in his thoughts for the last few days,” said an officer.
Earlier on Friday, Modi had chosen to walk in the funeral procession of Vajpayee from the BJP office to Smriti Sthal, where the departed leader’s mortal remains were cremated.
It was also on the Prime Minister’s instructions that a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee was chaired by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha for the second straight day on Friday to decide on further assistance to the state of Kerala. Sinha directed the three Armed Forces forces, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to mobilise additional boats and equipment, including from CRPF, BSF, and SSB, for rescue and relief in flood-hit Kerala.
The NCMC members held a video conference with the chief secretaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Kerala chief secretary specifically requested for motorised boats to reach the marooned in flood-affected areas.
So far, the Centre has mobilised deployment of 339 motorised boats, 2,800 life jackets, 1,400 lifebuoys, 27 light towers and 1,000 raincoats. Further, 72 motor boats, 5,000 life jackets, 2,000 lifebuoys, 13 light towers and 1,000 raincoats are being deployed. 1,00,000 food packets have been distributed and arrangements are being made to supply another 1,00,000 food packets. Provision has been made for the supply of milk powder as well.
Indian Navy has deployed 58 rescue and diving teams along with 70 boats. Navy choppers have 50 sorties in and rescued 176 people so far. The rescued included a pregnant lady, who later delivered her child at an INHS hospital. Around 1,600 food packets were also airdropped on Friday.
Coast Guard has deployed 30 boats along with rescue teams, 300 life jackets, seven life rafts and 144 lifebuoys.
The IAF deployed 23 helicopters and 11 transport aircraft.
Army pressed into service 10 columns, 10 Engineering Task Forces (ETFs), 60 boats and 100 life jackets.
NDRF has mobilised 51 rescue teams and 163 boats. Railways has provided 1,20,000 water bottles. Another 1,20,000 bottles are ready to be despatched. It is also running a special train carrying 2.9 lakh litres of drinking water that will reach Kayakulam tomorrow.
Use of Naval airstrip at Kochi for use by civilian airlines has been offered to the Kerala Government.
Kerala Government has been advised to explore the use of V-SAT communication links in areas where telephone connectivity has been disrupted.
Cabinet Secretary also directed that emergency medicines may be put on standby.