A few days back, S Ahmad was among the Valley's top businessman with a flourishing electronic business at Lal Chowk and a house at Kashmir's most posh area, Rajbagh.Twenty days after the floods devastated the Valley, he is left with nothing. One storey of his palatial house in Rajbagh is still underwater and his stores at Lal Chowk reduced to mud.
The tragedy was he had left his shop keys back at home as he left his home for a safer place. ``I had to break the locks to enter my shop as Rajbagh is still underwater,'' said Ahmad.
Ahmad is not alone even twenty days after floods as most localities like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Bemina, Allochi Bagh, Wazirbagh, Parimpora, Ikhrajpora, Tengpora are still under many feet of water, leaving thousands homeless. On September 5, the Jhelum and its tributaries inundated most parts of the Kashmir Valley, including the state's summer capital Srinagar. Weeks later, the government is still struggling with dewatering.
While water is receding from many places after the government made strategic cuts to drain out water, the officials say a large volume of water is yet to be drained.``Even in areas which have water, the level is much low than a week ago,'' said Rohit Kansal, divisional commissioner Kashmir.
``Even within colonies, some lanes are dry while others are dry,'' he added.
Draining water is proving to be a herculean task even as the government claims around 200 pumps of different capacities are working round the clock to pump out water.``We are managing pumps from every possible state, even the organisations like ONGC and Coal India is helping,'' Kansal said.
According to officials, most of the 87 submerged pumps of the Srinagar Municipality are also emerging, which are also aiding in draining out water.``Two days back, Shiv Pora wasn't dry, it's dry today,'' he added.
Kansal said the SMC is also working hard to clean the city. ``Yesterday, the municipality picked up 1500 metric tonnes of waste, four times more than normal ,''he said.
The progress, however, seems too little too late for people.Around 150 families from other worst affected areas of Bemina, Qamarwari and Chattabal are still in the relief camps of Islamia Higher Secondary School.``We might have to shift the people to adjoining marriage hall as the school needs to be reopened,'' said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is managing the camps.
``We have nowhere to go, our colony is still underwater. Even our relatives have the same story,'' said Fayaz Ahmad from Bemina Boatsman colony. The family of six, which includes two children, had moved from the Maqdoom Sahib Shrine to Islamia school after the Shrine closed down its relief camps.
``How long do we stay here Winter is approaching, we need to go back or whatever is left at our houses will also vanish,'' he said.
A senior official who did not want to be named said the government should be able to make a few rooms for the affected families before the winter sets in. ``If planned properly, the government has enough resources to help people who have lost their homes. At least two rooms can be made for the affected families,''the official said.