Shimla: Other than playing Golf at Annadale Ground, Shimla, (occupied beyond expiry of the lease period by the Indian Army), the defense propaganda machine has been highlighting that the ground is needed for logistic support to carry out disaster management in the hills, particularly for Shimla city.
To emphasize the point, mock drills, in full battle gear have been carried out regularly, needless to say at public exchequer expense.
When disaster did strike (not in Shimla but in the high altitude zone of Kinnaur, a mere 25 minutes one way by an helicopter sortie) the preparedness of the army in rising to the occasion simple stood exposed.
Two helicopters that were assigned the task of carrying out disaster rescue operations after landing at Annadale ground, stayed put there for two days, on the pretext that there was no fuel to fly the sorties in and out of Kinnaur.
What was worse, Army Annadale fuel station incharge Naik SK Singh did disclose to a reporter that there was 3200 liters of fuel stored at the ground itself but red tapism, lack of co-0rdination or simply lack of will was responsible for resulting delays in carrying out the operation.
It’s time the bluff is called off. The army personnel and the top officers of the state want to play golf on Annadale ground, that’s okay.
But please say so. Don’t sell the story that the ground is essential for logistic support in disaster management.
Today when finally the machines did get off the ground a total of 13 sorties were conducted that have managed to lift 301 from Sangla, Reckong Peo, Pooh, Nako and Gyabong to Rampur, a government press release announced.
“Efforts were afoot to airlift the remaining about 400 persons as soon as possible,” it stated.
With only the state helicopter pressed into service yesterday, only 69 stranded tourists could be rescued and two days ago only 110 were air-lifted to safety by the state machine.
Till yesterday, a total of 278 people had been brought out to safety from rain and snow battered Kinnaur district