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Army struggles to rescue 300 villagers trapped by Arunachal's flood
The government and the Army failed to rescue about 300 Chakma villagers who are left stranded due to the flood fury in Arunachal Pradesh. Only about 150 villagers have been rescued and sheltered in relief camps so far.

AT LEAST 300 Chakma villagers trapped in flash flood water in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh could not be rescued till the morning of June 27. The villagers have been left stranded after their village was tore apart by the swollen Noa-Dehing river due to incessant rains in the intervening night of 23-24 June. Their conditions remained unknown.

On Monday, about 150 villagers were rescued by 100-odd country boats. However, majority of the people remained trapped as the Army’s mechanized motorboats failed to sail through turbulent flow and bad weather. The failure of the Army to rescue the remaining villagers prompted the local administration to press for the helicopter services. The state’s Chief Minister Nabam Tuki who has been personally monitoring the grave situation gave a go-ahead signal for deploying helicopters to rescue the villagers.

Nabam Tuki also sounded a red alert across the state in view of the devastating effect caused by incessant rains in the last several days. The Chief Minister has also sanctioned Rs 10 lakh to each of the Deputy Commissioners and Rs 5 lakh to each of Additional Deputy Commissioners.

The State’s Chief Secretary has also issued instructions to all administrative officers, including Deputy Commissioners and police in the districts, to remain alert and assess the situation immediately and submit their reports. Similar instructions were also issued to the District Disaster Management Departments to alert all the relief and rehabilitation officers. The medical department has further been alerted to keep medicines in sufficient stock, while the civil supplies department has been asked to keep in stock sufficient foodgrains to meet any eventuality.

The steps taken by the government are commendable. However, the failure to rescue the remaining villagers even after three days indicates lack of preparedness and prompt activation of the emergency response plan. The approach at best has been reactive-responding to disasters after they occur. This is despite the fact that, for instance, the Deputy Commissioner, Changlang has reviewed the preparedness to tackle the monsoon fury with the HoDs, Assam Rifles and CRPF last month.

It is important to save the lives of the stranded villagers at the earliest but at the same time this should be an important lesson to be learnt.

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