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FROM JAMMU & KASHMIR
Tiding Over
Leh claws back to normalcy, albeit slowly
Nitasha Chawla
New Delhi: The recent cloudburst in Leh has not only shown the vulnerability of the human life against the vagaries of nature but also displayed what havoc Nature can execute to wreak the lives of thousands of people. After claiming around 170 lives and injuring hundreds of others, the cloudburst has left the district of Leh in shambles with around 500 people still missing.
On August 6, around midnight a cloud burst occurred in catchment area of Sabu nala and at about 0100 hrs, the fast flowing muddy water, debris and slush had hit Sabu and Choglumsar village, ITBP campus and nearby downhill areas. Some buildings of ITBP were the first to be hit by the cloudburst but fortunately no loss of life occurred, barring some injuries to jawans.
All the battalions of ITBP under command of Sector DIG (Leh) of ITBP pressed their Integrated Search and Rescue team in the relief work immediately. These teams are acclimatised and equipped with specialised equipments used for search and rescue work at high altitude mountainous areas. The rescue operations continued for more than ten days and thereafter ITBP and General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) along with the army have been involved in the restoration work.

“The ITBP opened a permanent medical camp at Sabu village in Leh. Over 70 injured were admitted in disaster ward of ITBP and over 400 homeless victims were accommodated in three ITBP relief camps. We also provided drinking water to the victims in relief camps and residents of Choglumsar and Sabu villages,” said an ITBP spokesperson. “On third day of the Rescue and Relief Operation in Leh, about 1,000 Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel provided food and drinking water to over 4000 affected persons.”

With this tragedy, Leh has become the highest disaster ground. The Army, the ITBP, the GREF personnel, police and civilian authorities have worked round the clock to remove the piles of mud and other debris. Carrying search and rescue work at altitude of more than 11500ft in the cold dessert and difficult climatic conditions of Leh has been a daunting task for these forces.
Although normalcy has gradually returned to Leh district, many nearby villages have been completely flattened by the mud and slush of the turbulent rivers. Availability of drinking water is a major problem in the region as dead bodies of humans, animals and oil leakage from trapped and damaged vehicles has contaminated most of the water sources. It will therefore take a lot of time to build the infrastructure once again, till then ITBP personnel have provided their own accommodation for the affected homeless villagers.

The restoration of road has been successfully done so that food supplies and other essential items can now easily reach the affected people. Subsequently, the team has managed to clear all the debris ten days after the incident and connectivity within Leh and other areas has been restored. Now the rescue team is providing essential things like water, power supply etc. In Leh town, 75 per cent power supply has been restored.
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