The Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee, presently on tour to the United States has directed the defence forces for all out help in extending relief and rescue support to the civilian authorities in the southern Gujarat and Saurashtra regions, consequent to heavy rains leading to high floods there. Accordingly the Army and the Air Force have launched a massive assistance mission in these areas.
Accordingly 9 Army Columns have been deployed at Rajkot, Khera, Anand and Vadodra. So far 500 Army personnel have been deployed in rescue and relief missions in the State. Five more columns have been kept at stand by to assist the Gujarat Government if the need arises. Each Army column is equipped with boats, life jackets and other rescue and relief material for assistance to flood marooned people in the State. As per the information reaching Army headquarters today, mechanized and inflatable boats as well as flood boats and Out Board Motors are being airlifted to Gujarat to intensify relief operations. A large number of life jackets are also being rushed to be carried by the Army relief teams. So far 575 civilians have been evacuated by the Army from the flood-hit Indian Oil Refinery in Vadodra.
In another major relief mission, the Air Force today has made several sorties to air drop food and drinking water packets to the stranded passengers of a train at Dakor Station between Anand and Godhra stations of the Western Railway. Flood waters have risen above the railway track and have submerged station platform. A total of 8 tones of relief material has been air dropped by the Air Force. In addition, an Army column was rushed to the site, but they were not able to reach the stranded train due to heavy flood waters.
The Defence Minister has been closely monitoring the worsening flood situation in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and some other parts of the country even during his present tour to the United States and he is in continuous touch with the officials in the Defence headquarters engaged in round-the-clock flood relief activities.