Gear Up

The Chief Minister has directed the administration to speed up the process of relief and rehabilitation in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir. Evidently, prodding, to use a mild expression, by the union union minister for roads and highways, Nitin Gadkari, who had pulled the state government up for failing to produce a damage assessment report, has worked. But it may take another week or more for the administration to implement the chief minister’s orders.

The ground situation is grim, with revenue officers like tehsildars and patwaris missing from their respective areas.  People have held protest at several places to demand speedy loss assessments by the administration. They are dismayed by the package offered by the state government for fully and partially damaged houses. People are also angry over the government of India’s reluctance to declare the floods a national calamity. Such a declaration could ensure that losses caused by floods are compensated to a reasonable degree. People whose houses have been destroyed could get Rs 5 lakh, and special packages could be announced for businessmen and farmers who have suffered extensive damage.

 According to the assessment report of the Jammu and Kashmir government, the state has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 100.000 crore. At a press conference on September 29, the chief secretary said that the recent floods were a calamity of international standards. They have claimed 270 lives and hit 12.50 lakh families. Out of 5,642 inundated villages , 800 remained submerged for more than two weeks. The floods destroyed 83,044 concrete houses completely while 96,089 houses were damaged partially.  The number of semi-concrete houses damaged completely is estimated to be 21,162, and that of those damaged partially 54,264. Other structures, including granaries, damaged in the floods number around 353,864.

The assessment has been too long in coming. The government should ensure that the follow-up makes up for the lapse, in speed, efficiency and fairness.