PDP youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra blames the previous government for mishandling the flood. Currently, the government can’t do much for flood preparedness, but it will never let Srinagar be submerged again, Parra tells Kashmir Reader Special Correspondent Moazum Mohammad.
Why is government of India not releasing flood rehab package?
There are technical issues. They never said they won’t give the money. But there are some formalities and technicalities. Rehabilitation is a process, not an event.
Is New Delhi worsening the crisis by delaying the package?
That is where the leadership’s role comes in. The crisis is not everywhere. It’s a perspective in some pockets. Overall, people are happy with the government. It’s not easy to revive the government after six-years of breakdown.
What’s your take on the Rs 44000-crore package submitted by the previous government?
First, mismanagement of the previous government is responsible for the flood. The NC-Congress government couldn’t decide whether to breach any other part to save the urban city because they were in slumber.
Humanitarian relief was completely embezzled. National Conference distributed relief in constituencies, which were never affected. Omar Abdullah won from Beerwah Budgam because he distributed relief there. In Sonawar, Pahalgam and Sonawari, relief money was given to workers to buy votes. And this is how the NC got some seats in elections. You won’t need much relief if what arrived here had been distributed rationally.
The Rs 44000-crore proposal was politically motivated. No survey or assessment was conducted before submitting it to Delhi. The central government raised queries over it as it was quite vague. We believe the losses are so huge that they can’t be calculated.
The finance minister focused on making a package for rehabilitation and reconstruction and it’s more than Rs 44000 crore. Delhi has changed the entire funding pattern and they need Utilization Certificates of past projects. We are seeking money as per the utilization capacity. Finance minister is working on innovative things like works department would spend around Rs 14 lakh per kilometer but now we are spending Rs 28 lakh with the condition that the road has to be maintained for three years.
Business community called for shutdown on September 7, which you are observing as ‘Revival Day’
The business community suffered losses and their concerns are genuine. But they should be part of solution to help the government in the rehabilitation process. Traders’ community shouldn’t get into hartal politics as it can lead us nowhere. They have to be with us and we are also on the same page.
Opposition claims the government did nothing for rehabilitation process?
After the floods, Omar was in power for four months. What did he do? It is not we are blaming him but the point is rehabilitation process will be done quite substantially. Floods didn’t come because of our mismanagement. We inherited all these issues from his government. We are doing our best.
Omar failed as a politician and he should accept it. Rehabilitation will take some time and we have initiated the process. See, roads damaged in the floods are being macadamized. Omar Abdullah’s constituency roads are fully paved even though he ensured Mehbooba Mufti’s constituency was neglected during his government.
Bridges are being reconstructed, schools are functional and everything ruined in floods is functional. It was a larger challenge and people have to support us.
What’s government flood preparedness plan?
As of now, we can’t do too much. It needs a good dredging plan. It will take some time, an alternative flood channel for example. In case of flood threat, we won’t allow Srinagar to get submerged.
How much money was distributed during your government?
I don’t have actual figures but whatever money came from Delhi was distributed among the flood victims. We inherited Rs 10000-crore liability from the previous government but Mufti sahib distributed cheques among the affected people in all districts. Omar Abdullah didn’t distribute any money but calculated basic losses only.
The package announced by Finance minster Arun Jaitley was a big disappointment?
Yes, it’s not the amount we expected. We expect more that can compensate the losses.