Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court Tuesday came down heavily on state government for “lapse” in forwarding information to Indian Home Ministry regarding flood- damaged houses, observing that “sensitive souls were needed in administration to respond to the cries of the sufferers.”
“It is more than two months now when the worst ever flood hit the state. It was the duty of the government, being the repository of rights of the people, to have provided the information sought for by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Disaster Management -1 Section, without losing time,” a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey said.
“This act would have enabled the authority to release the relief amount in favour of the victims of the flood,” the bench said after hearing Assistant Solicitor General of India S A Makroo.
In fact, Makroo produced a communication sent to him by Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Section whereby state was asked to furnish the details of the partially and fully damaged ‘Pucca and Kachcha’ houses along with bank details of the house owner to facilitate release of relief from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
“Why and for what reasons these details have not been given till date is not forthcoming,” the court said, observing that all those authorities who were charged with the duty of providing such information shall have to account for such a ‘lapse’ which has “further compounded the miseries of those persons who have suffered in the recent floods”.
“It needs some sensitive souls in the administration to respond to the cries of the suffering people,” the court said and asked the Secretary Revenue and Relief Commissioner to explain reasons as why information sought for by the Home Ministry has not been provided till date.
“All the authorities who are responsible for providing such information shall be asked to explain their conduct in this behalf,” the court said and asked the Commissioner to give names of such officers and their explanation by filling an affidavit before next date of hearing in the PIL on December 1.
The court also directed state government through Chief Secretary and Secretary Revenue and Relief Commissioner to provide all the information to New Delhi before the next date of hearing.
“Compliance report in this behalf shall be filed before next date,” the court said and also directed the Secretary Revenue & Relief Commissioner to remain present in person before it on the next date of hearing.
In another direction, the court directed authorities to provide better shelter to all those persons rendered homeless by the floods.
“It is a known fact that the mercury has considerably fallen in the recent past and temperature during night has gone down to more than minus one. It is beyond comprehension as to how in such minus temperature people are living in the tented accommodation,” the court said.
In the coming days, court said, there will be further fall in the temperature which may even result in the death of those putting up in the shelters.
Upon this, Additional Advocate General, M A Chasoo, submitted that large number of applications have been received by the respective Deputy Commissioners which have been sent to the concerned Tehsildars for verification.
The verification, he said, has been ordered to be done without delay to that those living in the tented accommodation are provided safe shelter in the shortest possible time.
He also submitted that government has taken a policy decision to give Rs 5000 per month as rental charges to those persons who are living in tented accommodations so as to enable them to hire accommodations on rent basis. This policy decision, he said, would cover a period of four months.
“We hope and trust that paper work alone is not done but decision would be translated into reality by providing the amount to the flood affected families during the course of this week,” the court said, and directed the concerned authorities to file compliance report about making these payments to the flood affected families before December 1.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu filed their response, indicating the manner and method by which the NGOs, individuals and companies are distributing the aid to the flood victims and how it is being regulated.