Kashmir floods: Toll nears 200, some roads restored, aid pours in

Srinagar/New Delhi :Armed forces stepped up rescue efforts in Jammu and Kashmir, evacuating over 47,000 people so far and government agencies tried to restore road and communication links snapped in the state’s worst floods in 50 years that have left nearly 200 dead and crippled the infrastructure.

Aid for the beleaguered northern state poured in with various state governments announcing aid and relief material – Uttar Pradesh pledged Rs.20 crore, Maharashtra Rs.10 crore, Bihar Rs.9 crore, Odisha Rs.5 crore, while Congress legislators in Goa decided to pool in a month’s salary and the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party sent two trucks of relief supplies.

More than 500 hostel students of the National Institute of Technology in the Hazratbal area were shifted to safer locations after the water from the Dal lake entered the campus. Flood waters have also entered portions of the Hazratbal shrine but the authorities confirmed that the holy relic of the Prophet it houses is safe as only the shrine’s ground floor has been inundated.

Home ministry officials meanwhile said that food and water supply was being stepped up to the state and 1,25,000 packets of biscuits, 100,000 litres of potable water, 150 tonnes of ready to eat food apart from food packets were being made available.

The officials said that over 250 boats have already been deployed in relief and rescue efforts.

With power supply in the Valley disrupted, 6,000 solar lanterns were being mobilized. Air India has declared free passage for the tourists trapped in Srinagar.

The army has distributed 7,200 blankets and 210 tents to the flood victims, while 80 teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services have been pressed into action.

Indian Air Force airplanes and helicopters have till now undertaken 451 sorties, dropping 563 tonnes of relief material.

A defence ministry spokesperson said that five task forces of Border Roads Organisation, which include 5,700 personnel, have been pressed into service to restore the road connectivity.

The army also restored road connectivity to Kashmir Valley from the Leh region. The valley has been cut off from the rest of the country for seven days.

The road connectivity between south Kashmir’s Anantnag district and central Kashmir’s Badgam district with Srinagar has been restored but the Jammu-Srinagar national highway continued to remain closed for the sixth day Tuesday.

Jitendra Singh told the media in New Delhi that BSNL is trying to restore communication links in Srinagar, but it will take at least a few days more.

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