With fears of epidemic looming large, the focus of flood relief in Srinagar has shifted from supply of food to preventing the outbreak of disease. The Omar Abdullah government has sprung into action and is running more than 150 medical camps in Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag areas along with the army.
With many still not willing to leave their homes that are submerged in water, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) director general OP Singh said mobile health clinics are now being run on boats. The NDRF is now focusing on providing medical relief as rescue operations have been scaled down.
BSF IG Kashmir PS Sandhu said some people are still marooned in areas on the banks of the Jhelum but the aerial survey has revealed that the floodwater is receding. “The state assembly, high court and police control room and the Badami Bagh Cantonment are now accessible by road. The heavy duty suction pumps of the ONGC will be lifted on Army Tatra trucks. After the water is sucked out, the affected areas will be disinfected by using bleaching spray on the mud and the slush. The carcasses of dogs, cows and rats too will have to be disposed of to prevent the spread of an epidemic,” Sandhu said.
Srinagar municipal corporation has finally started work on the disposal of waste. Union health ministry officials said the management of waste and animal carcasses has to take off on a war-footing and the disposal has to be away from populated areas and water bodies.
The state health department is using the public address system on its mobile vans to tell people to take preventive measures to prevent the outbreak of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and diarrhoea. Children up to the age of 15 are being vaccinated for measles. Though the department is facing shortage of doctors and paramedical staff, all district and sub district hospitals have been made operational. The hospitals that were flooded will be disinfected to make them operational. Health department officials said no epidemic has been reported and health camps of the BSF, army and the state are treating patients for respiratory infections and anxiety-related diseases such as hypertension and high blood sugar.
Political parties, separatist groups and voluntary organisations too have started their own medical camps and mobile vans in mosques, parks and near main roads.