What happened to `44000 Cr flood package?

Wasin Khalid

Srinagar: The Mufti-led government has so far failed to shore-up the special financial package to the tune of Rs 44000 crore from union government thereby seriously hitting infrastructural development in public sector and rehabilitation of flood victims of September 2014.
As the recent political developments in Kashmir have taken the glare away from the special package for the flood victims and infrastructural development, gross discrepancy between the loss assessments in the state government projections of Rs 44000 crore and recent World Bank estimates of losses incurred due to September flood at Rs 21197.5 crore have also surfaced raising questions on the credibility of the government.
“Leave aside World Bank loss estimates, we have not received a single penny under the financial memo sent to the central government seeking Rs 44000 crore,” a senior official in the state’s finance department said.
“The world Bank decreased our loss memo from Rs 44000 crore to Rs 21197.5 crore. It is another problem as to what parameters they have implemented to assess the damages. The state government is completely silent on the issue. Either they are doing it deliberately, or they seem to be helpless in shoring up the funds. The unavailability of money related to government’s loss memo would deal a serious blow to state’s infrastructure which got damaged in the floods.”
Immediately after the floods, the state government had described the deluge as a “disaster of international magnitude” and the losses to properties and businesses were put in excess of Rs 100,000 crore (one trillion).
The government had estimated damage to the housing sector at Rs 30000 crore and losses in the business and public sectors at Rs 70000 crore.
However, later the government lowered its earlier loss assessments and submitted a proposal to the central government, seeking a special financial package of Rs 44,000 crore for the rehabilitation of flood affected people and infrastructural development.
The demands, under the special financial package, included payment of ex-gratia relief against the loss of private structures to the tune of Rs 9,00,00 for fully damaged pucca house, Rs 6,00,000 for fully damaged kucha house, Rs 4,00,000 for partially damaged kucha/pucca house including boundary walls and Rs 1,00,000 for other structures.
In separate survey, the World Bank (WB) further lowered the loss memo of state government and put the losses to houses and public infrastructure at Rs 21197.5 crore due to the devastating flood in September last year.
Around 2.40 lakh structures including residential houses were damaged in flood in Kashmir and caused a damage of Rs one lakh crore in housing, industry and public sectors.
Kashmir Economic Alliance, Chairman, Showket Chowdhry said that beyond announcements, government has done nothing to rebuild infrastructure and business affected by the September 2014 deluge.
“Nobody has been compensated for the losses inflicted upon by the floods,” Chowdhry said. “My question to government is that why they are silent over the economics package issue. The same government who said they took time to cobble coalition saying they wanted economic package for the flood affected and start rebuilding the damaged infrastructure”.
He said that during recent meeting with Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, the alliance raised the issue of special package.
“We asked him the state government has fixed loss memo at Rs 44000 crore. The World Bank came and lowered it to around Rs 21000 crore. Who knows how much actually would be allocated for the building of business and infrastructure,” Chowdhry said.
He said the actual loss inflicted due to floods was at one lakh crore.
“A crisis is in the making. In last six months we have witnessed fifty percent reduction of goods imported. It means that traders have no money. Their shops need repair. Same is with the hotel industry,” Chowdhry said. “If things remain as they are, you would see increase in unemployment due to no business and other related issues”.
Another faction of KEA led by Yasin Khan said the
Prime Minister during his Kashmir visit on diwali in 2014 showed reluctance for the release of funds to the flood victims through the previous state government. Now the present coalition government of which BJP is a partner has so far miserably failed to provide a succor to the flood affected business community and the people of Kashmir.
The KEA asks the government to ponder and introspect their initiatives which have been responsible for creating an atmosphere of uncertainty causing a huge dent to the state economy including tourism sector.
It appears that Mufti Mohamamd Syeed is in C.M’s chair but unfortunately the government of the state is run by the people at Delhi.
Relief & Rehabilitation minister, Basharat Bukhari said there was no discrepancy in the assessment of losses between the state government and World Bank estimates.
“The world bank package is different. It is for infrastructural development,” Bukhari said, adding, “It is true that central government has not released any money for the loss memo package of Rs 44000 crore to the state government. We are pursuing the case. Hopefully it would be released soon,” he added.