The rescue and relief efforts undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir were on a war footing, said union home secretary Anil Goswami on Wednesday, who was camping in Srinagar for nearly a week. "We made an air bridge between Srinagar and Jammu. Aircraft and helicopters were flying every two minutes," he said.
Coming in defence of the Omar Abdullah government which is under fire for its reported poor management of the floods in J&K, he said, "The state government has resources but the entire state capital of Srinagar was flooded, including government buildings and offices. It is easy to find faults but difficult to work in such conditions. They have now taken things under their control and government staff is back on duty. Efforts to dewater flooded areas and clean streets and dispose animal carcasses have now begun. Water supply has been restored in certain areas and the government offices and hospitals will also be made functional in coming days. The state is geared up to deal with the situation with assistance of the Centre."
Playing down the pelting of stones by angry people at helicopters and targeting the rescue teams of armed forces and NDRF teams, he said Srinagar has a population of 13 lakh households and conclusions shouldnot be drawn if 100 people throw stones.
"If you and are your family are under water and looking for rescue, there can be anger and despair. If angry people throw stones, it should not be taken seriously," he said, steering clear of questions on separatist leader Yasin Malik snatching an NDRF boat near Lal Chowk.
On the extent of damage, he said it can only be assessed by the state government. "They are preparing a report. We will study the report and give them what they ask for. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came,the state had just Rs 1100 crore in their account so the PM announced Rs 1000 crore. More would be given, if needed," Goswami said.
The death toll is higher in Jammu than in Kashmir. The official figure of the dead in Jammu is 163 so far. "A wedding party in a bus is feared to have been swept away by the floods. A village in Udhampur too has been buried in mudslide. So the death toll in Jammu may go up. As for the Kashmir valley, the official figure of the dead is 49," he said, adding that it would take two months to bring things back on track.
Masks out in Srinagar, dewatering underway
From airport to its streets and relief camps, people are now wearing masks owing to fear of outbreak of epidemic. As many as 70 carcasses were found on Tuesday and will be disposed of in three days.
Two ONGC suction pumps installed at Rajbagh to pump out water into the adjoining flood channel while smaller pumps are at work at Badami Bagh Cantonment and some other areas. Locals, too, are trying to drain water out from their shops and homes using small pumps.
There have been mobile water purifiers in the worst-hit localities and the water purification plants were also set up.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation has starting disinfecting streets after lifting garbage and filth. Fumigation of hospitals too would begin after water recedes or is pumped out.