Answers Needed

It is nearly a month since flood waters overran much of Kashmir, and yet the state’s coalition government of the National Conference and Indian National Conference has failed to explain why its capital, Srinagar, from where it was supposed to launch and coordinate rescue and relief operations, sank without even token resistance.

As this newspaper has reported, the administration had been warned of severe and extreme weather conditions, and therefore the possibility of flooding, with a reasonable time margin, but it failed to issue convincing public alerts to at least prepare people in the city’s vulnerable areas for a timely and orderly evacuation.

The government cannot hide behind the alibi of violence and disturbance to absolve itself, and its plea of the ‘astronomical’ scale of the deluge would have carried weight had it initiated measures to tackle normal flooding.

If residents in the Palpora quarter could reinforce and erect six to seven feet of embankment in day, could the government’s vast reserves of manpower not have been mobilized in similar fashion in many other areas?

Flood warnings had been coming from various quarters since the beginning of that particular spell of inclement weather, but does the government have any record or proof of a single sandbag having been filled anywhere in the city?

According to Kandizal villagers the Jhelum breached its embankments on September 03 when the water level was still at least 4 feet down, and the breach did not occur where it usually does. Thirty-six hours later, according to the villagers, they saw the Jhelum surge in through a number of other breaches. And what does the government make of reports from villagers of cloudbursts at several places? Has it checked the veracity of the reports, and identified the spots?

Authorities must come up with credible answers to questions being asked and theories being propounded about Kashmir’s recent floods.