Many tragic deaths could have been averted in the recent Kalikot bus accident had the rescue teams reached the accident site earlier. The victims would have been saved if they had received timely medical attention. Kalikot is in the remote region with a rugged terrain and difficult to access on foot and vehicles. In such situations, rescue work would be more effective by using helicopters. The helicopters would be able to reach the disaster sites in a short time and ferry the injured to hospitals and health centres, in many cases preventing the casualties. The accident in Kalikot and the heavy toll it took goes to show how poor the disaster readiness is. The country could do with a fleet of helicopters with pilots and crew members and medical rescue teams on the standby round the clock to reach the sites of traffic accidents immediately in order to save the injured. If we only had sufficient helicopters with night vision equipment they could be pressed into service for rescue operations.
The Nepali Army has been in the forefront of most major rescue operations — some of them daring in nature. Their role in such operations is indeed laudable. However, it is disconcerting to learn that of the 28 copters it possesses only half of them are functional. Apparently, the budget allocated for their upkeep is not adequate. The NA should possess more helicopters so that it can bring them to use in incidents like the sad one that took place in Kalikot. Disaster preparedness should figure as a priority for the government. Therefore, it is necessary to procure more copters and train the flying crew and rescue personnel so that they are able to carry out the rescue operations in the remote regions of the country, thereby, saving valuable lives.
Meanwhile, considering that the country is vulnerable to disasters such as the one in Kalikot it all goes to show how ineffective the rapid response is to them. Disaster rescue is also the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs and agencies under it like the Nepal police. This calls for alertness from the concerned sector so that they can reach the disaster sites, be they vehicular accidents, earthquakes or landslides, and the like, and provide them with immediate medical treatment and ferry them to health treatment centres without delay. No doubt, helicopters are most effective in a mountainous country like Nepal as they are more able to carry out rescue missions effectively. That the NA’s big helicopters, including MI-17, Super Puma and Puma are grounded because the budget for their maintenance is not adequate is indeed unfortunate. The concerned should see to it that the NA has the required budget for a decent number of helicopters. These copters would play crucial roles in rescue missions. Not having the required number of copters for such tasks is a serious handicap for the rescue missions that have to be undertaken. It would also help if there were helicopters in the private sector too that could be brought to use in rescue missions in the difficult to access remote regions of the country.
Nepal is well-renowned for its flora and fauna, including some of the rarest and endangered species in the world. Though the efforts for their conservation have been untiring, yet the poachers have a way of taking a toll of the unique inhabitants of the forests. The demarcation of the national parks and reserves has been to protect the animals and birds, and other living beings. But, it is a tough job and every year the number of vulnerable animals like rhinos, tigers and elephants, among others, is declining due to ruthless poaching.
It is agreed that patrolling the national parks is not easy with the thick vegetation which is a camouflage. Now, there is some good news that for anti-poaching purposes the national park rangers and army personnel are learning to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Such UAVs like drones can give an edge over the dangerously armed poachers. These are useful for the rangers and the army personnel to prepare in advance for action against the poachers. With the view from the sky, the security personnel can fight wildlife crime and help save the animals, birds and other forest beings from the deadly poachers.