A clarion call for rescue works

RSTV Bureau

(Photo: Valay Singh)

Ahead of the massive floods in J&K, the whole Jammu and Kashmir looks like a gloom city of chaos searching for relief and humanitarian measures. About 1 lakh rescued people are forced to live on streets, parks, temporary shelters in mosques and Sikh temples. Flood has totally destroyed the communication system in the city. Mobile phones are not working properly. There is severe scarcity of clean water. People are struggling hard to get basic items of their daily use.

In this massive natural disaster, the government set up has also get badly affected owing to this proper relief works seems to be a herculean task. Many children who are trapped displayed remarkable courage and presence of mind to remain calm and helped evacuate their families. The army and the National Disaster Rescue Force stepped up their operations after a delay of at least two days. Even now, according to some estimates, 6 lakh more people still need to be rescued from their homes, as access to different parts of the city is severely restricted. In flood affected areas people urgent need medical care especially pregnant women.

Doctors are regularly holding medical camps to fill the gap. A couple of government hospitals including the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of medical sciences are only accessible through helicopters.

Children of valley are most affected from the floods; they are traumatised and need immediate medical care. Organisations like Save the Children are distributing medicines, blankets, children-appropriate food and safe water in the relief camps.

Save the Children, a child rights organisation, is also setting up a medical camp in Islamia college and Hawal in downtown Srinagar; three Child-friendly Spaces (intended to protect children when their families are unable to tend to them) will also be set up since the tents for these have now arrived in Srinagar.

Organisation’s J&K office has itself been severely affected by the floods and was completely submerged in water. “We are airlifting 5000 relief kits, as per government requests, that include food items, hygiene kits, and blankets among other things,” says Sharif Bhat, State Programme Manager for J&K.

Most of the flood-affected localities are still waterlogged but in some places like Lasjan, Tankpura and Rajbagh the water levels are receding slowly thereby increasing the risk of damage to the buildings that are still standing. The government needs to urgently step up its efforts to rescue people across the city, and restore basic services and road links to Jammu and Leh. Resentment among the locals has been growing because they claim the government completely abandoned them. They have done everything themselves, make boats, rescue their families and friends, feed them and provide them with shelter and medical care. Gurudwara committees have also played a huge role in the relief works.

Locals are also angry at the skewed TV media coverage of the relief efforts which has highlighted the role of army while nullifying the efforts of the people themselves. People were also seen attacking the media crews. There is a great imbalance noticed in the coverage of the relief works nationally.

As the dangers are not over, Save the children demanded that the government should immediately set up a coordination cell to effectively manage the relief efforts.