23 June, 2021

Their Wings, And A Few Prayers

Risking life and limb, the armed forces ably rise up to the challenge of rescue

Their Wings, And A Few Prayers
  • Wiped out: Although Uttarakhand was the first state to set up a separate disaster management ministry, a CAG report this April said it had never met nor received any funds.
  • 147 bridges and 1,307 roads damaged, meadows washed away


Nothing gives you a better sense of devastation than a view from 15,000 feet in the air. I am aboard an ALH Dhruv, manned by Colonel Anuj Rampal, a veteran of search and rescue operations. Before us lies the battered vista of Garhwal’s hills, where rain, landslides and the raging Ganga, Alaknanda and Mandakini have combined to wreak a havoc whose magnitude is just beginning to be und­erstood.

He has never seen such destruction before, Col Rampal tells me, above the roar of the rotor blades, as his olive-green chopper lives up to the words emblazoned across it—Suveg and Sud­ridh (fast and determined). “The scene on day one after the first waters receded was heart-wrenching,” he says. “I ...

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