The two-month delay in government formation may have slowed the process of building flood-control infrastructure in Kashmir, experts say, as the border state stares at fresh floods.
The Valley was ravaged by its worst floods in 100 years in September that left 200 people dead and washed away thousands of houses and businesses. Srinagar bore the brunt of the Jhelum fury. Much of the devastation was blamed on poor flood preparedness.
Though the PDP-BJP government was focusing on strengthening river embankments, desilting and widening of water channels, the process could have been faster had the state not had to wait for a new government, experts say.
“Some de-silting was done here and there, but definitely not on the scale it deserved,” said Shakil Romshoo, head of earth sciences department at Kashmir University.
The coalition government was sworn in on March 1, more than two months after the election. Consequently, flood-control work suffered despite the state receiving Rs 1,500 crore from the World Bank for the purpose.
While Rs 1,100 crore from the state disaster response force for flood relief was mostly utilised, a sum of `120 crore from the CM’s fund remained unspent.
Public works minister Altaf Bukhari denied delay. “The embankment restoration of the Jhelum was carried out. The World Bank money has arrived only now, but the CM relief fund will be utilised soon,” he said.
Bukhari said three joint control rooms had been set up in the Valley, and about 72 safe zones identified in Srinagar.
“Police stations have been equipped with sandbags and boats to meet any eventuality,” he said. “We are asking people in low-lying areas to move.”