We were left waiting for six hours: Army

Over 50 differently abled children were saved by a column from Madras Engineer Group. Despite waters fast receding at T. Nagar on Friday, an Army column was called in for rescue there.

December 06, 2015 08:41 am | Updated November 16, 2021 03:59 pm IST

The Army braved severe conditions to rescue stranded people on difficult terrain — PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Army braved severe conditions to rescue stranded people on difficult terrain — PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Army, which has rescued thousands of marooned residents and is continuing its operations, is facing critical coordination problems with the local administration at the ground level, resulting in delayed action in some places.

The unpreparedness of the local agencies, including Chennai Corporation, in giving appropriate directions to the Army came to light when The Hindu accompanied the rescue teams in several places on Friday and Saturday.

For instance, despite waters fast receding at T. Nagar on Friday, an Army column was called in for rescue there. “When we reached the area, many parts had only ankle-deep water. The inputs we got were that several other areas had severe flooding where our boats and men could be of immense help. We waited for five hours without any major work at T. Nagar. The operation was concluded in the afternoon,” an Army officer supervising the operations independently confirmed.

The Army braved severe conditions to rescue stranded people on difficult terrain. In Ramapuram on Thursday, an Army column led by Major Rakesh Khatkar from the Madras Engineer Group worked for hours to save over 50 differently abled children from a school for the aurally challenged. Some of the men, who had little knowledge about the terrain, swam in waters that reached the second storey and brought the children down on their shoulders. A woman, who was eight-months pregnant, was brought down from the terrace, using a chair to avoid any injury. In the last three days, this single column has saved close to 700 persons using three boats.

In Velachery, a Corporation official said on condition of anonymity that he came to know of the Army’s arrival just half an hour before they reached the locality. Since multiple operations drained batteries on their search lights, the forces asked for the equipment — which was not organised. In one colony, the men used cell phone torch lights for visibility on waters where snakes were sighted. The boat had to be pushed by hand on several stretches as large speed-breakers became a hurdle.

Meanwhile, the troops were in a spot as the rescued residents began questioning the complete lack of transport facilities when they were brought out of the colony at 11 p.m. The Army men then requested cars plying in the area to drop the residents. A few Good Samaritans obliged, going out of their way to take pregnant women and the elderly to far away places.

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