Crops on 3 lakh hectares of land damaged, losses to agri sector pegged at Rs 3,674 crores
The government Monday said more than two lakh structures were damaged, which included 20,000 houses totally destroyed, in the worst floods in the State in more than a century.
“Approximately 2,34,516 structures have been damaged, which includes nearly 20,000 completely damaged houses, in the valley excluding district Srinagar. The damages to other houses and structures will be known only when the submerged areas are fully dewatered,” the government told the High Court.
The government was replying to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by two advocates. The PIL had accused the government of not providing timely relief to the flood-affected people.
Denying the allegation, the government said it had established 224 relief camps across the State including 137 in Kashmir Valley.
“137 relief camps catering to more than one lakh people in Kashmir Valley and 87 in Jammu division were set up.
“Most of these relief camps have been wound up with the improvement in the flood situation and return of the affected people to their own houses,” the government said.
It said an amount of Rs 430 crore Rs 215 crore each for Jammu and Valley regions – was kept the at the disposal of respective Divisional Commissioners for meeting exigencies like ex gratia relief and rehabilitation. .
Meanwhile, losses to the agriculture sector in flood-ravaged Kashmir division including Ladakh region have been pegged at Rs 3,674 crores as crops on three lakh hectares of land have been damaged by the natural calamity.
According to a survey carried out by Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture department, Pulwama district has suffered the maximum damage in terms of damage to agricultural produce with losses estimated to be Rs 1104 crore.
The amount includes Rs 778 crore losses to Saffron crop as flood water inundated Pampore town of Pulwama, where most of the Valley saffron is produced.
In terms of area, Budgam district in central Kashmir has been worst-hit as crops on nearly 52,000 hectares of land have been destroyed by the floods.
Although most residential areas of Budgam were largely unaffected by floods, agriculture sector took a big hit as standing crops worth Rs 552 crore were destroyed.
Kupwara district in north Kashmir was also a major sufferer as crops worth Rs 447 crore and spread over nearly 40,000 hectares were destroyed.
Baramulla district also suffered losses to crops to the tune of Rs 386 crore while Anantnag district in south Kashmir claimed losses of Rs 374 crore to agriculture crops.
Shopian district has been the least affected as losses of Rs 66 crore have been reported from there.
Kargil, in Ladakh region, reported crop losses to the tune of Rs 34 crore while there has been no damage in Leh district.
The state government is carrying out loss assessment due to floods on a war footing in areas where water level has reduced.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said on Friday last that the overall losses to all sectors would run into many thousand crores.
Epidemic bomb ticking in flood-ravaged Kashmir
Medical practitioners have urged the government to deal with the crisis in an effective way and dispose-off animal carcasses on an immediate basis.
“Once the water recedes from every area, it is going to be very difficult to enter such places because of the pungent smell,” Dr Zaid, Associate Professor at Government Medical College, Srinagar told Rising Kashmir.
He said unattended carcasses, heaps of garbage and stagnant stinking water can cause some severe communicable diseases.
“Although we haven’t received any cholera case but God forbid, if any case is spotted, it is going to be a massive issue for the State,” Zaid said.
Experts urged government, civil society groups and volunteers to pool in their efforts in disposing of the carcasses of animals from the City and other areas across Kashmir.
“It is very important for the government as well civil society members to clear all the carcasses from the streets. If the carcasses are not removed from roads then there will be tough times ahead,” said public health expert and former Health Officer, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Dr Shafqat Khan.
He said Thanks to Almighty, people have survived the worst flood in Kashmir’s history “but I fear we won’t survive the epidemic looming large if proper measures are not taken”.
Khan along with other volunteers has started a sanitation drive on his own in the flood-ravaged city making people aware about the epidemic threat.
“Cholera is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. The main symptoms are watery diarrhea and vomiting,” he said adding the disease may result in dehydration and in severe cases grayish-bluish skin.
The doctors said transmission or spread of the disease may occur primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms.
Meanwhile, administration has so far failed to dispose off the carcasses of animals lying in Chattabal, Lasjan, Rajbagh, Tengpora and Bemina bypass, and other areas.
According to locals, the stray dogs who have survived the floods have started eating the animal carcasses, leading to fears that they will spread disease.
Some people had made attempts to free cows from the shed. However, the gushing flood water entered the farm leaving the areas completely devastated.
“Some of the locals tried to save the animals but they failed as their boat capsized,” said Ali Muhammad Jan of Qamarwari, Srinagar.
Even after two weeks of catastrophic floods, the government is yet to de-water the residential and commercial areas of Srinagar city prompting people to flee from their homes for the possible outbreak of epidemic.
Residents of submerged colonies in Mehjoor Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Bemina, Batmaloo and Nowgam said hundreds of livestock has perished in the flood. They feared that once the water level recedes, it will become difficult to move in these areas due to the carcasses.
Scores of people from Tengpora, Batamaloo, Padshahi Bagh, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and other localities are shifting to rented accommodation after abandoning their homes where the water remained stagnated.
Although flood water has receded but many residents are not willing to return to their homes fearing they will catch diseases.