Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005
Google

National
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |

National Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

War or peace, the battle against weather goes on in Siachen

Luv Puri

Temperature in the glacier at night hovers around minus 60 degree Celsius


`It may be peace at the glacier but for us life remains the same every day. The facilities which the soldiers are now getting are world class but at the end of day it is the enthusiasm and determination of a soldier which is key to survive in these conditions.'

SIACHEN: Sweat Save Blood, Blood Save Life, High Standard Save both. These are the lines of the maxim on a placard which any visitor spots on reaching the foothills of the Siachen glacier, known as the world's highest battlefield — which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently hoped would become a mountain of peace in the near future.

Guns are at present silent at the glacier much to the relief of soldiers as they can carry out their activities in the areas prone to firing without the danger of being fired at. But here the main enemy is weather as the temperature at night hovers around minus 60 degree Celsius and blizzards are common at night. Even though not a bullet has been shot ever since November 26, 2003, it makes no difference for the various units which are supposed to look after the logistics of the infantry manning the last military post of the Siachen heights.

This reporter got an insight into the multi-dimensional working of the engineering unit which provides logistical support to the last post in the northern glacier which has one of the highest peaks in the world. The engineering unit is working day and night to provide the best facilities to the soldiers posted at a height ranging from 10,000 to 21,000 feet above sea level. Even at the peak of the summer season, the real battle for the engineers is against the chill, snow avalanches and other related problems which are responsible for damaging the supply lines.

The supply of kerosene through the pipes is the most important requirement as it is used for melting ice. The foremost priority before the engineers is to make sure that kerosene is supplied without interruption. Capt. Anshul has been assigned the work of repairing a kerosene pipe and laying down a coaxial cable to the last Indian post on the Northern Glaciers. He says, "It would take 21 days to reach the last Amar post of the Siachen glacier at a height of 21,000 feet above sea level." Every soldier going on patrol is supposed to carry 21 kg of materials including the personal kit. The movement of the soldiers is restricted to early morning hours due to the risk of sunburns during afternoons and blizzards during the night at a speed of 180 km an hour.

Col. Tejinder Jaggi of the engineering unit says, "It may be peace at the glacier but for us life remains the same every day. The facilities which the soldiers are now getting are world class but at the end of day it is the enthusiasm and determination of a soldier which is key to survive in these conditions." Post Operation Vijay, the facilities for the soldiers have improved drastically. Communication is through the satellite sets and the soldiers can now speak directly to their homes while staying in their icy bunkers situated.

Despite the best available medical facilities, there are weather-related health problems. Subedar Bhojraj is suffering from a frostbite which peeled off his skin from his nose.

The other problems are loss of sleep, muscle loss, hair loss and memory loss faced by the army personnel, say the army doctors. Most of the problems are due to low oxygen levels which are 50 per cent of the normal availability.

To tackle these problems, Ayurvedic medicines have also been made available.

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



National

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2005, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu