Govt agencies grapple to restore power, water supplies; open hospitals
At least half a dozen bodies floating in the flood waters were recovered in different parts of Srinagar city taking the death toll close to 300 during the past 19 days while the valley is facing severe shortage of rations and medicines as civil society volunteers and some of the mobile medical units of the government are struggling to reach survivors of the worst deluge in a century.
There was no official confirmation or announcement by any government agency on the recovery of bodies which were seen by the voluntary boat owners in Ram Munshi Bagh and its adjoining areas this morning. Efforts were being made by the civil society members to retrieve them from the muddy water for identification and removal to the medical centres. The local residents who have been making a hue and cry about decamping bodies in different parts of the city have been blaming the administration for not answering their calls.
Photographs of some of the floating bodies also appeared on the social networking sites but the areas where they were spotted have not been specified. There are still vast tracts of residential areas in Bemina and other low-lying colonies, where rescue teams or those engaged in distribution of relief material which have not been reached by the authorities till date.
Official agencies continued to maintain that they were trying their best to distribute the relief material to the marooned people besides those lodged in various camps spread across the valley on higher grounds after they were rescued by various rescue teams. Some of the collapsed houses are yet to be explored for more bodies in most parts of the valley which were submerged under water for more than a fortnight.
In certain localities, there are angry responses to the presence of politicians and relief teams for their late arrival in those areas. Ration supply is yet to reach many submerged areas. In some areas, people were yet to come out and avail of the relief material as they were risking leaving their damaged houses for the fear of looting by some unscrupulous elements.
Water pumps in certain areas have not been able to carry out the dewatering operations in the absence of electricity supply because they are on run only on power. Only the mobile water pumps or those operated by the Fiore and Emergency Services are operating in some parts of Kashmir valley and water has been drained out allowing the people to reach their houses and commercial establishments to see what has been left out after the delgue.
On the other hand, darkness will continue, at least for a fortnight, to eclipse the streets of Lal Chowk, once a buzzing commercial hub of Indian administered Kashmir which was ravaged by a devastating flood.
The region’s Power Development Department foresees a “massive loss” to its infrastructure in Srinagar, the summer capital and other affected areas – Islamabad and Kulgam regions and parts of Baramulla and Bandipora due to the flood that drowned the city on September 7.
“It will take us another two to three weeks to restore fully the power distribution network in the city,” a senior official in the Power Development Department said.
The flood, the official said, flattened a “huge percentage” of the department’s infrastructure in Srinagar.
“The losses are in billions,” the official said, “but we are on job to restore power supply and once the dewatering of any flood hit area is completed, then only power is restored.”
A preliminary survey by the department has put the losses at over Rs 250 crores. Many power receiving stations, transformers, electric poles and transmission lines were badly hit by the flood, particularly in Srinagar and other affected localities, the official said.
Lal Chowk, which houses Kashmir’s costliest market for goods ranging from readymade garments and jewellery, electronic appliance and kitchen ware, was drowned in flood after the water from river Jehlum which flows on the backside of the market, started to spill over in the intervening night of September 7 and 8.
All the markets in Lal Chowk like the famed Lambert Lane, Abi Guzar Market and Residency Road remained closed Wednesday for the 18th consecutive day. In some markets, shop owners had opened their shops to remove items covered in layers of mud.
The disruption in the power supply in the flood affected areas in Srinagar has not only hit the common life but paralyzed the government functioning as well.
An official of the state forest department posted at its office in Sheikh Bagh of Lal Chowk said they could not undertake any sort of work due to non-availability of power.
“We could not do anything for the whole day,” he said. The flood, he said, has completely damaged the ground floor of the department’s building, washing away all the records.