Ahead of elections, New Delhi opens flood file

Srinagar/Jammu: Ten days ahead of first-phase of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government Friday released a ‘chargesheet’ against the state government accusing it of ignoring repeated warnings from New Delhi about the floods, which ravaged the Kashmir Valley, particularly the Srinagar City, in September.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh alleged that Jammu and Kashmir authorities had ignored the warnings by the Meteorological Department about the floods.
“We had issued similar flood warnings to the governments of Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir to undertake measures in this regard. While Uttarakhand government responded to flood warnings, J&K government ignored it,” Singh told reporters in Jammu.
“Nobody (in J&K) bothered when water level crossed the danger mark (despite issuance of several Met department warnings), and Srinagar sunk,” he said.
“I personally monitored the situation at the Met office and was instrumental in sending alerts to J&K government under my own supervision about abnormally high rainfall hitting Pirpanjal in south and central Kashmir,” he said, adding the government remained “in deep slumber” even when the flashfloods wreaked havoc in districts of Jammu region and Kashmir valley.
Singh also released a two-page ‘chargesheet’ against Jammu and Kashmir government for its failure to take call on floods to save hundreds of lives and damage caused to infrastructure. He also questioned the preparedness on part of Omar government to save J&K from flood fury.
The ‘chargesheet’ mentioned that Met office warnings and alerts were sent to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Chief Engineer Mechanical Division, Flood Control and other officials on September 2, 3 (twice in the day), 4, 5 and 6 before the floods inundated Srinagar summer capital.
Interestingly, the ‘chargesheet’ against the National Conference-led coalition government in the state has been released 10 days ahead of five-phased elections which begin from November 25.
“We went beyond our duty to warn J&K government that continuous rains could trigger major floods and landslides, disrupt road and air transport but these warnings were not further furnished by these departments to the general public,” he said.
Charging Jammu and Kashmir government over the issue, he said no alerts were sounded by its Flood Control Department or respective Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar and Anantnag district about the magnitude of the water that was approaching Srinagar city.
Government’s unpreparedness despite the Met warnings could be gauged from the fact that some of its ministers and bureaucrats got trapped in the floods and were battling for survival, he said.
“Instead, allegations were being levelled on the Central government inspite of us going beyond our mandate,” Singh said.
Replying to a question about Rs 44,000 crore package submitted to the Centre by the state government, he said, “State came with its own survey figure of Rs 44,000 crore”.
Questioning the way survey was conducted by the state government to arrive at a figure of Rs 44,000 crore, he said, “We had asked the state government about the parameter adopted to arrive at such a figure but they did not come forward. We have suggested to them for a joint survey and lend our helping hand but they seem to have shied away.” (with inputs from PTI)

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