Flood aftermath: Protect homeless against vagaries of winter, HC tells govt

Srinagar: The J&K High Court Tuesday asked government to rehabilitate people rendered homeless by last month’s devastating floods.

“Most of the flood-hit families are residing in tented accommodations and it shall not be feasible in view of the severe cold during nights,” observed a division bench of Justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Muzaffar Hussain Attar while hearing a Public Interest Litigation—G M Wani and another Vs Director CAPD.
Therefore, the court said, they are required to be rehabilitated in a manner so to protect them against vagaries of weather and harshness of coming winter season.
Upon this, Advocate General, M I Qadri, sought time for filing response by November 3 which was granted to him by the court.
In another direction, the court asked Director, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) department to file a fresh affidavit indicating as what has been impact on ground level of the directions or instructions issued by him.
The direction followed perusal of a report by the Director CAPD, stating that various steps have been taken by the department vis-à-vis distribution of ration and other commodities in Kashmir Valley. “Nothing has been said about the follow up and the change in ground realities,” the bench observed.
“It is paper work only. There is nothing on record as to what has been distributed, among those it has been distributed. Hoodwinking public opinion is different thing. There is no record before the court to suggest something to change ground realities,” the bench observed and asked Director CAPD to file a fresh affidavit.
In another direction, the bench also directed Deputy Director Drugs and Food Control Organization to submit a report about follow-up action on various steps taken by his department following devastating floods.
The direction followed perusal of the affidavit-cum-compliance report filed by officer Nazir Ahmad Wani stating that after the floods hit the Valley, Organization’s supervisory enforcement staff carried out extensive inspection and checked 845 food establishments as well as 189 drug sale establishments.
During the drive, Wani said, operation of 21 drug sale establishments was suspended for a period ranging from 2 to 7 days depending upon the severity of contravention under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules.
The operation of these shops, he said, shall be allowed only upon verification of satisfactory compliance of their sanitary conditions as well as scrutiny of their inventory by the empowered authorities after suspension period is over.
The affidavit further stated that medicines worth approximately Rs 50,000, mostly those which were contaminated or touched by floodwater, were confiscated on the spot.
Similarly, he said, food items mainly of perishable nature were destroyed on the spot by the Food Safety officers by invoking the provisions of Section 38(4) of FSS Act, 2006.
However, Wani said, the Organization was still in the process of reaching to the interiors, adjoining districts of flood-hit areas.
For the purpose, he said, help has been sought from district administration to “ensure that the general public is provided safe and wholesome drug and food articles for consumption.”
The Deputy Director has filed the report in compliance to last direction by the court, asking Drug Controller and the Commissioner Secretary to Government, Health Department to “swing into action” by confiscating and destroying drugs and food items affected by flood waters “so that the gullible public is not compelled to purchase the same and fall ill by its consumption.”