Flood Victims Calling

Having severely criticized the Omar Abdullah government for failing to provide adequate relief to flood sufferers, the incumbent Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed who, during electioneering, had promised each flood-hit family Rs 20 lakh, has left the hapless households in the lurch. Along with his spokesman, Naeem Akhtar, Mr Sayeed had ridiculed the previous dispensation for insulting the victims with its Rs 3,800, Rs 12,000, and Rs 75,000 response, describing it as rubbing salt into their wounds.

Flood victims had high expectations from Mr Sayeed, keeping his previous tenure in view, and most of them had voted for his party, but feel deeply betrayed now. The same people who went to the booths last year have threatened a valley-wide agitation in case the Chief Minister fails to show promptness in releasing the relief promised during the month of Ramadan. Addressing a function at the SKICC, Mr Sayeed had promised Rs 3 lakh for each flood-hit family before Eid-ul-Fitr. It has been reliably learnt that the process of issuing cheques had also been initiated, and as many as 225 written, but the tehsildar concerned was transferred before he could sign them. The new official is said to be reluctant to sign the cheques, and the process therefore has been stalled for the time being due to a minor administrative hassle.

Flood victims, therefore, are justified in accusing the incumbent government of failure to rehabilitate them, and assert that its predecessor had at least provided Rs 75,000 for fully damaged houses plus Rs 15,000 as three months’ rent for livable accommodation in the immediate flood-aftermath. The previous government is also said to have deposited Rs 1,00,000 in the bank accounts of flood-hit families.

The present set-up, on the other hand, has only made hollow promises. True, the Prime Minister of India has not released the funds necessary for reconstruction and rehabilitation, but this does not exonerate the state government, as the issue is said to have been taken care of in the common minimum programme, or the agenda of alliance, as it has come to be called. If the BJP is unwilling to keep its word, the PDP had better pull out of the coalition, as post-flood measures were what it had justified its alliance with the right-wing outfit primarily on.