Madikeri: Massive relief and rescue operations are on in Kodagu that has been ravaged by floods, landslides, house collapse and by the rivers flowing in full spate. Many villages, especially in Madikeri taluk, have been erased from the map and on ground they now look like mounds of mud and debris.
Truckloads of relief materials are pouring into the district from places including Mysuru and Bengaluru and hundreds of volunteers have reached Madikeri and Kushalnagar. The volunteers are assisting the Army and other Paramilitary Forces that have entered the epicentre of the devastation to rescue people.
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is scheduled to visit the district this afternoon. His helicopter was scheduled to leave the HAL Airport at 2 pm and land at Periyapatna Taluk Stadium. From there, he will proceed to Madikeri by road and hold a meeting with the District Administration and representatives from the Forces that are carrying out relief measures.
Officials have, however, ruled out an aerial survey by the CM as the weather is hostile. He will return to Mysuru today and stay overnight.
Co-ordinated rescue mission
Though the relief operations were hit yesterday due to inclement weather, operations began this morning with Military Forces being rushed in from various parts of Karnataka. Army, Navy, Civil Defence Team, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Quick Response Team and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are working together to carry out the rescue mission.
Overnight heavy rainfall in the district has further induced landslides, inundating low-lying areas. All major roads leading to Kodagu are blocked and massive rescue operation has been launched involving multiple agencies, said a communication from the District Administration. The State Government has announced a solatium of Rs. 5 lakh each for seven persons, including a little child, who have been killed in Kodagu since the last two days.
Bad weather a hurdle: Sixty members of Indian Army’s Dogra Regiment, 73 persons from Indian Army Engineering Task Force, 12 expert divers-cum-surface rescuers with rafts from the Indian Navy, 30-member team from National Disaster Relief (NDRF), 30 members from State Disaster Relief Force with boats and equipment, a 45-member Civil Defence team with boats and rescue equipment and over 200 Fire Force personnel are carrying out relief operations.
Though the Indian Air Force Rescue Mission was aborted yesterday due to inclement weather, another operation began this morning at 6:15 am from Mysuru using M17 Chopper.
Emergency Centre : As on yesterday evening, 873 people have been rescued and brought to safety. Teams comprising Revenue, Medical, Food and Civil Services and other officers are camping in vulnerable villages and providing all necessary assistance. Kodagu Deputy Commissioner, Zilla Panchayat CEO and Superintendent of Police are manning the District Emergency Operation Center that is functioning 24/7. Communication disruption is being restored. HAM operators are deployed as back up.
300 persons yet to be rescued: Over 300 people are yet to be rescued from landslide-prone areas in Madikeri including Garwale, Soorlabbi, Hachchinadu, Jodupala, Shirangala, Mandalapatti, Mukkodlu, Hattihole, Kaluru, Galibeedu, First and Second Monnangeri and Muvathoklu. According to an estimate, over 900 people are stranded.
At some places, landslides could not be cleared by earth-movers as the soil is slippery and soggy. Kodagu Deputy Commissioner P.I. Sreevidya said that an NDRF team which was assigned to rescue Mukkodlu villagers was stranded at Bhagamandala after a massive landslide. They are now heading to the spot through Kannur.
Apart from Mukkodlu, Makkandur is another village that bore the brunt of nature’s fury. Hattihole which is in spate has swept away a village.
More Navy personnel : Revenue Minister R.V. Deshpande, who was in Kodagu yesterday, said that an Army team was heading towards Madikeri to assist in rescue operations and the Navy base at Karwar is sending a rescue team. In all, over 20 relief centres or Ganji Kendras (gruel centres) have been opened.
The proposed airlifting and use of helicopter was hampered yesterday by intermittent rain. Several people are still trapped at Mukkodlu, Hebbatageri, Katakeri, Yemmethaalu, Meghathalu, and surrounding villages. The Army personnel have brought sophisticated equipment for rescue and relief works.
Fuel stations, ATMs set to go dry: Since most mobile networks are down, people have not been able to contact the Police or relatives. Many ATMs and fuel stations are running dry, adding to people’s misery. The situation could turn grim if banks don’t replenish ATMs soon.
As Kodagu was cut off from the rest of the State since the last couple of days, banks have not been able to replenish ATMs. People are struggling to pay for groceries and medicines. The supply of petroleum products to the district has stopped as the Mangaluru-Madikeri road is cut off due to landslides.