In the unfolding aftermath of the April 25 earthquake, the worst to hit Nepal in 80 years and one of the worst in all of South Asia, India has left no stone unturned to come to the rescue of its Himalayan neighbour and strategic partner.
India was the first nation to respond, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi convening a disaster response meeting in within hours of the quake.
“Nepal’s pain is our pain,” said Modi, “I have spoken to their prime minister and president and assured them that this country of 125 crore is with you.” keeping up the spirit of cooperation that was rekindled during Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Nepal in August last year.
Mr Modi has already spoken with about a dozen state chief ministers immediately after the earthquake.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament on April 27 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “knew of the incident before me and took swift action.” “Just five minutes before the earthquake, I was with the PM. He later called me about the earthquake and said there would be a meeting at 3 pm. The quick response that should have been shown by me as home minister was shown by the PM,” Mr Singh said in a statement in the Lok Sabha on the disaster that has killed over 3,700.
The Indian government has decided to grant visas on priority to those who are to be evacuated from Nepal, said the home minister.
- An inter-ministerial team comprising senior officials from ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs and NDMA are in Nepal to coordinate rescue and relief operations.
- 10 NDRF teams, 45 personnel each are at ground zero.
- Thirteen military aircraft and three civilian aircraft Air India and Jet Airways have rescued 1935 Indians so far.
- One IL-76 military transport plane, two C-17 Globemasters and a C130J Super Hercules have been deployed for ferrying supplies and personnel.
- Additionally, six Mi-17 helicopters and two Advanced Light Helicopters are engaged. With two Mi-17 choppers on standby.
- 10 tonnes of blankets, 40 large tents, 22 tonnes of food, 50 tonnes of water, two tonnes of medicine and 120 large oxygen cylinders have reached Kathmandu.
- One field hospital in Kathmandu and several mobile hospitals are now providing medical treatment to the affected.
- The army’s engineers are working round the clock to restoring road connectivity
- Indian UAVs are being used to map the destruction and relay the information real time to rescue agencies on ground
- To alleviate the power and fuel shortage situation, a team of senior executives from the Indian Oil Corporation and more than a dozen engineers from transmission utility- PowerGrid Corporation are in Nepal
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been proactive and has held back-to-back meetings to help out quake victims on both sides of the border. The minister has been extremely active and has been reaching out via social media, responding to pleas for help on her twitter handle. In one tweet, she asked for details of a woman’s father who was in in Kathmandu at the time of the quake.
Distressing times are indeed true tests of friendship. And India is more than ready to do its best as the countries are intimately bound up with fraternal and cultural ties.
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