MADIKERI: With its scattered population, hilly terrain, landslides and limited connectivity, the Kodagu mayhem is a major challenge for rescue and relief teams. A column of the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army, NDRF, SDRF, civil defence and many others are working in relief operations in the district. They are being assisted by villagers and locals, but it’s hard going.
A Karnataka State Police officer, who was part of Uttarakhand floods operation, said Kodagu presents a very different challenge.
“In Uttarakhand, we reached people only after five or six days, but they had all gathered in one place and helicopters were used to rescue them,” the officer said. “We could also use boats. But here we can’t use choppers or boats. Moreover, flood victims here are scattered around the district which is making the task difficult. We have to create new routes with the help of locals to reach them.” He also revealed landslides in Uttarakhand were isolated cases unlike in Kodagu.
Other officers said operations in Kodagu are more citizen-driven than administration-driven. District administration officials too are helpless since they have no exact record of the number of people in estates. Communication networks too have been destroyed.
“Since roads have collapsed and communication is down, it takes a lot of time to reach people who are stranded,” an official said. “Shockingly, we sometimes have to convince them to come with us. They are so attached to the house or village they live in.”
Continuing bad weather has hampered search operations. “Here you have trek forests, cross rivers using ropes and then bring victims to safety. It consumes a lot of time,” an official said.”
The Karnataka State Police has roped in personnel from the counter-terrorist squad and anti-naxal force to help with operations since they specialize in work with rope. An officer of NDRF, who helped with operations in Chennai during the floods, said: “We didn’t have the problem of landslides or a breakdown in communication networks there and we could carry around and use boats. Here we have sometimes trekked 15km to save people.”
Choppers can’t be used because of the fog, rain and the forest terrain, he said.
WHY IT’S DIFFICULT
Landslides have destroyed roads and bridges and rescuers have to find new routes, Flooded rivers and water bodies have rendered boats useless. Rescuers have to make rope ways to cross rivers.
People stuck in isolated areas: Rescue personnel have to depend on locals for information. Verifying credibility of information is a huge challenge.
Network issues: Landlines and mobile networks are down.
Bad weather: As rainfall continues across the district and because of fog, choppers cannot be used.