Colombo, May 27 (newsin.asia): India has deployed, with amazing swiftness, three naval vessels to bring relief material to flood and landslide-hit Sri Lanka.
INS Kirch, a Kora Class Corvette, arrived in Colombo early on Saturday. Two more naval vessels, INS Shardul and INS Jalashwa, the former a tank carrier, and the latter a landing craft, are expected on Sunday and Monday respectively.
Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayke, at his own initiative, came to the harbor early Saturday morning to receive INS Kirch. The off-loaded relief material were formally handed over to Karunnayake by the Indian High Commissioner, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
Recounting the sequence of events, High Commissioner Sandhu said that following a request for help from the Sri Lankan government on May 26, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (who was in Guwahati in Eastern India on tour) was contacted. The Prime Minister immediately directed the Indian navy to rush aid to the disaster struck neighbor.
“In less than 24 hours, relief materials were assembled, the vessel INS Kirch was diverted from its deployment, loaded with the assembled material, and bought to Colombo,” Sandhu said underlining the swiftness of India’s response.
The envoy said that India’s swift action arose from good neighborliness – a value grounded in Indian and Sri Lankan cultures.
“In the traditions of India and Sri Lanka, when one is in trouble, it is the neighbors and relations who rush to his help. India’s response is in line with that tradition,” Sandhu said.
The envoy pointed out that India has always been the first to respond to Sri Lanka’s call for help in facing natural disasters.
“When tsunami struck Sri Lanka in December 2004, India was the first to arrive with medical and other relief material. Indian naval doctors even set up a clinic in Galle,” he recalled.
Asked if he could indicate the quantum of aid that India plans to give, the High Commissioner said that it would be too early to give precise figures.
“All we can say now is that it will depend entirely on what the Sri Lankan authorities request for. But we can assure you that we will provide all the assistance that Sri Lanka seeks,” he said.
The envoy said that the deployed Indian naval personnel will work in close cooperation with the Sri Lankan authorities and the Sri Lankan navy.
“And once the task is done, we’ll quit,” he added, to assure Sri Lankans that the Indian armed forces personnel have come only to help the Sri Lankan government face a difficult situation, and when help is no longer required, they will leave.
INS Kirch, with around 125 personnel on board, offloaded supplies, including inflatable Gemini boats with diving teams, and a mobile medical team with supplies. The second ship, INS Shardul, a tank landing ship, is carrying additional relief material including more inflatable boats.
The third ship, INS Jalashwa, an amphibious transport dock, carries larger amounts of relief material .It is ideally suited for conducting Humanitarian Assistance or Disaster Relief Missions. The Indian personnel will come with helicopters also.
By Saturday evening, it was reported that 103 persons had died in the floods and landslides in 14 districts. 113 were injured and over 200,000 were displaced.
The flood waters are now receding, and in about three days the virulence of the South West monsoon is expected to lessen, enabling relief and rehabilitation work.
(The featured picture at the top shows Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu at the Colombo harbor to receive relief supplies brought by an Indian naval vessel)