Provision of basic necessities topmost priority, disbursement of relief to affected orchardists to begin immediately
SRINAGAR: In the wake of unexpected, intense snowfall in Kashmir division last week, Governor Satya Pal Malik has issued categorical directions to the administration to extend all possible help to the people.
Based on the Governor’s directions and periodic reviews, immediate action was taken on many fronts to provide relief to the people.
The early snowfall of November 3 and 4 severely disrupted essential services and supplies in Kashmir division including power, water, and road connectivity, besides causing extensive damage/losses to the agriculture/horticulture crops and farm infrastructure across many districts in the Valley.
The snowfall occurred at a time when the offices had closed in the summer capital on October 26 and 27 and were in transition for resuming work in the winter capital on November 5.
Governor immediately responded to the crisis and on his instructions, the advisors and Chief Secretary immediately took stock of the situation and directed the divisional and district administrations to work 24×7 to restore the power, water supply and open major and interior roads for smooth flow of traffic.
Governor’s administration was monitoring the situation closely and in greater synergy to ensure that basic services like road connectivity, water supply and power were restored within 72 hours of the snowfall.
Since power supply is crucial to provision of other services, Commissioner/Secretary, PDD was specially rushed to Srinagar to supervise and monitor the power supply restoration efforts personally.
While power supply in most parts of Srinagar City and major towns was restored within a day, due to strenuous efforts of the Power Development Department, ably supported by the divisional and district administrations, 95 percent power supply was restored within 72 hours of snowfall notwithstanding the fact that four transmission towers had suffered extensive damage and in fact collapsed.
Governor monitored the restoration of various services and supplies personally and obtained regular feedback from the advisors and the Chief Secretary.
Upon learning that agriculture/horticulture crops in particular apple orchards have suffered extensive damage/losses due to the snowfall, Governor issued immediate instructions to the administration for maximum possible assistance to the affected farmers. Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu were asked to have a preliminary survey conducted on immediate basis to assess the extent of damage/loss to the agriculture/horticulture crops/ produce.
Given the extent of damage to the agriculture and horticulture crops and other infrastructure due to snowfall, the Governor’s administration has declared the snowfall as a State Specific Special Natural Calamity for the purpose of providing additional interim relief/assistance to the affected farmers from SDRF. The relief amount has been enhanced to Rs 36,000/Ha for damage to perennial crops like apple. Earlier, the relief amount given to the farmers was just Rs 6800/Ha as per norms, which is now five times higher at Rs 36,000/Ha.
It is noteworthy to mention that within just 10 days of the snowfall, the process of providing relief to the affected farmers has begun which itself speaks of the speed and the promptness with which the Governor’s administration is working. As an interim relief measure, each affected district has been provided Rs 10 crore for the purpose from SDRF. This amount is in addition to the Rs 4 crore already available with each Deputy Commissioner for relief purposes.
Correspondingly, the Government of India has been requested to depute a special team to the State for assessing the damage to the agriculture/horticulture crops so that the losses beyond the permissible norms under SDRF can be compensated.
For further strengthening the administrative response to future snowfall and inclement weather, Governor’s administration has approved allocation of Rs 28 crore for procurement of various machines by the PW(R&B) department. These include (i) Rs 16.50 crore for procurement of three sophisticated Snow Cutter Machines (ii) Rs 6 crore for procurement of 15 snow plough machines for snowfall prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, Doda/Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban/Banihal and Leh and Kargil and (iii) Rs 5.50 crore for procurement of 22 bulldozers.
The Governor, while complimenting the officers for their efforts in restoring essential services promptly even while offices were shifting to Jammu as part of the Durbar Move, has urged the entire administrative machinery to work with renewed enthusiasm, vigour and redouble their efforts in alleviating sufferings of the people, if any, in particular during the winter months.
As a responsive and accountable administration, it would be the firm resolve of the Governor’s administration to deal with winter vagaries like snowfall and inclement weather conditions in future in the most effective and appropriate manner to ensure that there is least inconvenience to the general public as far as possible.
Although the Durbar is presently in Jammu, senior government functionaries including the advisors, the chief secretary and the administrative secretaries would be regularly visiting Kashmir to take stock of the situation and attend to the public issues.
The Governor unequivocally assures the people that their welfare will remain in full focus throughout the winter months and will continue to receive the same attention as before.