Srinagar: It may be a stone’s throw away from the Civil Secreterait, the seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government, but local residents complain the authorities are least bothered about rebuilding the flood-ravaged locality of Shutrashahi.
With last month’s floods having completely damaged most of the houses and the affected people living in tents, the locality present the look of a refugee camp in a warn-torn country.
Shutrashahi, one of the earliest government planned colonies in Kashmir is located behind the Civil Secretariat. According to locals , a team of experts accompanying a group of NGOs from India visited the place and were astonished that the locality despite being so close to the Civil Secretariat was in such a despicable condition.
“If the Chief Minister peeps out from his Secretariat office he would know what has befell the place he works from,” Mehraj Aafaq, a local said.
Shutrashahi faced floods on September 6 and was submerged by September 7 morning.
Nearly 60 families from the twin localities of Shutrashahi and Shutrashahi Teng have been staying in tents provided by the district administration. However, locals allege that tents are a mere eyewash.
“They have made a show out of our miseries. These tents are only meant to give an impression that government is feeding us,” Mehraj said. “We use our own ration and what comes to us through NGOs otherwise they have not provided us with a single grain,” he said.
The government has placed a hoarding that boats of the details of the ‘work’ authorities have done in the area. Claiming to have provided the locals with tents, blankets, pre fab toilets, drinking water and solar lights but the people who live in these tents decry the lack of facilities.
“They have put a hoarding outside saying that they have provided us with prefab toilets and drinking water,” Arif Ahmad a local said calling it a “blatant lie.”
“The scenes inside the place look like the war ravaged Kabul,” Haji Abdul Ahad, who owns ‘Naaz Hotel’ in the locality said. “This locality has vanished.” 25 houses have totally collapsed while others have been declared unsafe.
“No toilet facility is available here and no potable water is supplied to us,” said Arif.
“What purpose do these tents and these blankets serve us? Do they not know that it is the beginning of winters,” asked Arif.
Families living in the tents only occupy the places for day but leave for rented places for night as there are no facilities available to stay put for nights.
“One shivers even in rooms now, how are they expecting us to live in these tents during nights while they will not provide us with a blanket and electricity,” Mehraj told Kashmir Reader.
They solar lights provided to the occupants have died down and do not work now.
While locals inside the area are busy clearing the debris and leftovers tents are used for resting purposes.
“We would have stayed for night but how could one in this cold survive?” Altaf Hussain a local said.
While many of the locals have received Rs 75000 from the district authorities they still feel the administration is not taking serious note of their plight.
“A mason charged me 80000 rupees to dismantle and clear the debris while government gives me less than that,” Nasir Ahmad Khan said. “How am I going to rebuild my house with Rs 75000,” he asked.
Khan had escaped the rising floodwaters on September 7 morning. After some days when water receded he returned to check his house. He could barely reach his neighbour’s house. “I was watching my house when one of its walls collapsed and afterwards the whole structure was razed to ground,” said Khan.
Demanding government to think over its policy and provide them shelter for winters, he said, “If they want to help us, provide us accommodation even if it has only two rooms or at least take responsibility of paying our rents if we get a rented place.”
Haji Ghulam Qadir Najar another local who lost his house seconded Khan’s thoughts, “Pay the rent so we have a safe place to be in the winters to come.”