Year after floods washed valley, victims still await aid

RSTV Bureau
Srinagar: A view of the deserted Lal Chowk during a strike call given by Traders, Separatists and Opposition National Conference on the first anniversary of the Kashmir devastating floods in Srinagar on September 7, 2015. The strike has been called in protest against the alleged failure of the State and Central Governments to Rehabilitate the flood-affected people.  Photo - PTI

Srinagar: A view of the deserted Lal Chowk during a strike call given by Traders, Separatists and Opposition National Conference on the first anniversary of the Kashmir devastating floods in Srinagar on September 7, 2015. The strike has been called in protest against the alleged failure of the State and Central Governments to Rehabilitate the flood-affected people.
Photo – PTI

A whole one year has gone by but the victims of 2014 monsoon floods in the Kashmir valley are still waiting for the adequate amount of relief fund. The Central and the state governments had assured a large sum of funds to help the residents in their rehabilitation after the floods had devastated large parts of the valley. Those victims of the natural calamity have now begun to feel that governments at the Centre and in the state have not done enough for them.

The principal opposition party in the state, J&K National Conference on Monday called a bandh to protest against the alleged inadequate rehabilitation efforts by the government. Several leaders of the trade bodies participated in the planned protests in the valley, which observed a total shutdown.

Criticising the incumbent Mufti Mohammed Syed-led state government and the BJP-led central government, former CM Omar Abdullah claimed that both of them had made “tall promises” of providing relief to the people but till this day, very little has been given.

“They took money for many things in the name of the floods. But those, who suffered losses, did not get anything,” the former CM said alleging that a large chunk of the money was deducted by the Centre even before it reached the state.

The previous state government headed by Omar had asked for a rehabilitation package of Rs 44,000 crore to the Centre but so far the state has received only Rs 5,000 crores, including the Rs 1,100 crore which was in the State Disaster Relief Fund when the tragedy struck last year.

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FILE: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah. Photo – PTI

“In a series of midnight raids Mufti Syed has ensured the arrest of all the Trade Body leaders… All these people wanted to do was register their dissatisfaction at the absence of any meaningful flood relief. Shame on Mufti the Dictator,” Omar Abdullah said in a series of tweets taking on the current CM on the police action of detaining several trade union leaders early in the wee hours of Monday.

Apart from the leaders of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), state police also took into preventive custody the separatist leaders including moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Even JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was confined under the house arrest.

But even that couldn’t prevent the near total bandh as normal life came to a standstill across the valley due to the shutdown. Business establishments, shops, schools and educational institutions remained closed due to the strike while most of the public transport was off the roads. Kashmir University even postponed all the examinations which were scheduled to be held on Monday.

Meanwhile, the struggle for the residents, who were reduced as victims, continues across the valley.

“We are talking one year down the line and all we have got peanuts in the name of relief and rehabilitation,” 75-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Bhat told the news agency in Srinagar.

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FILE: One of the submerged building after the floods in 2014. Photo – PTI

Bhat’s three-storey house in Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar collapsed in the flood, though he believed that he and his family were lucky to leave their home minutes before the tragedy struck.

“We saw our house collapse in front of our eyes as we took refuge in the third storey of neighbour’s house. Everything was gone and we managed to just escape with our lives only,” Mr. Bhat’s wife, Nabla Begum said while accounting her plight post the natural disaster.

The elderly couple were awarded Rs 78,800 by the government as compensation but that was not even enough to get the debris of their collapsed house cleared.

“There is one case in our locality where a man had got Rs 50,000 compensation four times in four different bank accounts using different variations of his name,” Ali Mohammad, a resident of Natipora said alleging malpractices by the government staff in distributing relief packages.

“Many people have returned the cheques but most have encashed the instruments. How does that happen when genuine victims are running from pillar to post for some help to reconstruct their homes,” Mohammad Irfan a local resident said.

(With inputs from the agencies)