In September last year, Omar Abdullah grappled with the worst-ever floods to have hit the state in a century. Three months later, he lost power to the People's Democratic Party. In an interview with Toufiq Rashid though, the former chief minister only wishes that his successors had succeeded in bringing the much-needed relief to the flood victims.
Why do you think enough money has not been given?
We have received just peanuts. Even out of that you (Centre) have put money in the general consolidated fund of the state. You have also written off the liabilities on account of the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and also paid for the helicopters which we thought we were getting in free. The money that has been genuinely spent on flood relief is just Rs 2,000 to 2,500 crore.
The PDP-BJP government has been saying that the relief package sought by your government was exaggerated. How did you arrive at the figure?
If Rs 44,000 crore was exaggerated, please tell me how Rs 2,500 crore is justified. The Rs 100,000 crore package that was to come to Kashmir has been announced for Bihar and the flood victims here are still waiting. The figure had been drawn after consultations with the stakeholders, the civil society, and the business community. After a lot of (further) deliberations, however, we had arrived at a more reasonable figure of Rs 44,000 crore, and even that was called a sell-out at that time. We had trained officers, the chief secretary, the planning secretary, and the finance secretary… they are all well-versed with dealing with budgets. If you are chipping on the Rs 44,000 crore, please explain why.
People seem to have picked up the pieces and moved on. Don't you think it will be too little, too late?
If we still can extract some money from this government for the relief, it will be beneficial and we will continue to push for it. It's never too late. Those who have been able to reconstruct a single room might be able to add another two rooms to their house. Those who have taken loans will be able to settle those loans.