The Jammu & Kashmir government on Thursday made a passionate appeal to the Centre to bring closure to the emotional and financial trauma of flood-affected population by announcing a relief package as soon as possible.
“People are reliving the trauma day in and day out because the relief amount was too small. We are being asked about the relief amount. We face questions like ‘when will it come?’ The Centre should announce the package, whatever it is, to bring a closure,” said public works minister Altaf Bukhari during a programme on disasters organised by the Jindal Group, New Delhi, in Srinagar.
He said a survey conducted in his constituency of Amira Kadal in Srinagar, majorly hit by the September 2014 floods, brought to the fore the fact that 60 percent of the population still remain traumatised.
“The government has presented Rs 44,000 crore relief package before the Centre. I personally think even Rs 55,000 crore will be little to compensate the losses inflicted by the one of the most devastating floods Kashmir has witnessed,” said Bukhari.
“Kashmir has seen many disasters, calamities and troubled times but this one made people of Kashmir poor for the first time,” he added.
The BJP-PDP coalition government is facing growing public wrath for failing to compensate the loses, even seven months after the disaster, to the flood victims.
“We may not be able to compensate the losses fully but will do everything to rehabilitate people and their businesses,” said Bukhari, to play down the growing expectations of the victim families about relief amount.
According to the official figures, 6,782 villages, of which 741 remained submerged for weeks together, were taken over by the flood waters, leaving around 18 lakh households affected.
A survey claimed that Rs one trillion crore losses were inflicted by the floods, which made the then government invisible from the ground for weeks together.
“We are planning to reduce the response time to two to three hours. A flood manual is being prepared to put in place a swift mechanism where patients, aged and children are taken care of immediately,” said the minister.
He said the previous government of the NC-Congress could not have averted the disaster “but sufferings could have been”.
He said the state disaster department was being augmented and was working on a plan to tackle even bigger magnitude floods in the future. "Creating scare is important, too, in such situation. When one does a comparative study, for the government people's emotional and economic loses are more than tourism loses we face in the wake of flood scare, drummed up only after rivers cross the danger lines," he added.
The floods that hit Kashmir valley in September were worst ever in the last one century.
The government assessment shows that 21,485 houses, of which 4,700 were severely damaged. Only 1,690 affected house owners were compensated with Rs 118 crore. Only around 2,995 displaced families received rent amount of Rs 18.94 crores.