Study confirms flood victims’ grievance: loss assessment was arbitrary

Junaid Nabi Bazaz

SRINAGAR: Post September 2014 floods, hundreds of flood victims had complained that the assessment of damaged houses carried out by government officials had been arbitrary. A study by an internationally reputed NGO has corroborated the grievance.
The study conducted by ActionAid in 295 villages of the Valley has found that the division of damages houses into three categories was “ambiguous” and officials have not been accurate in the assessment of damages.
The state government had announced a compensation of Rs 75,000 for a fully damaged house, Rs 12,600 for severely damaged and Rs 3800 for a partially damaged house.
The study has found the categorisation and damage assessment “had become so technical” that families were at loss to figure out in which category their damaged homes belong.
“There were instances when families would suddenly receive cheques worth Rs 75,000 or Rs 3,800 but were unsure why they received the particular amount,” the study reads.
Ghulam Rasool Tota, whose one-storey house in the worst-hit Jawahar Nagar locality was submerged under water for nearly a month and was fully damaged was given a cheque of Rs 12,600.
Tota had filed a complaint with Srinagar Deputy Commissioner’s office, where he was told that the damages of his house will be re-evaluated. “We moved a fresh application a month ago but the reassessment is yet to be done,” Tota’s son Rameez told Kashmir Reader.
The study also said that there was a lack of transparency in categorization of damaged properties.
“People from influential class were being able to benefit more from the process as against the vulnerable and marginalized families,” the report said.
“This problem has added to our woes. We now have to move from office to other to get our cases settled,” Ghulam Qadir, another flood victim told Kashmir Reader.
Also, as per the study, the relief distributed among the affected people was not sufficient. The immediate relief of 35 kg free ration of rice/wheat which the state government announced was far less than the 83 kg per month set by the state’s agricultural department, the study said.
The damage caused by the floods is immense. According to government data, 2.5 lakh homes were damaged by the floods and businesses suffered a loss of Rs 34,000 crore.