KCSDS pitches for international aid to flood-hit Valley
Various political and non-political organizations Thursday urged the Prime Minister NarendraModi, who arrived here this afternoon to spend the day with flood-hit people, to ensure liberal funding for reconstruction of Kashmir which was hit by a devastating flood last month.
Soon after landing here this afternoon the Prime Minister flew to Raj Bhavan to hold interaction with delegations of political parties, business community and civil society.
Both ruling National Conference and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pressed for “generous funding” for rebuilding Kashmir.
The main demands raised by the National Conference included sanctioning of State Government-recommended Rs 44000 crore relief package for rehabilitating the flood victims and rebuilding infrastructure in public sector; income tax holiday for 10 years; special package for promotion/revival of Tourism in J&K and package for rehabilitation of border migrants. The NC delegation was led by party leaders including Nasir AslamWani and Devender Singh Rana.
To a question whether Prime Minister responded to the demands raised by them, Wani said the PM “heard us patiently and ensured JK will prosper in coming years.”
The PDP urged the Prime Minister to constitute an expert committee under the PMO to oversee rehabilitation and reconstruction in the State. The party delegation which met the Prime Minister was led by Muhammad Dillawar Mir and included AbdurRehmanVeeri, Naeem Akhtar, DrHaseebDrabu and Syed AltafBukhari.
The party impressed upon the Prime Minister to initiate tangible measures to set into motion a comprehensive process of rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.
“We told the Prime Minister that expert committee comprising town planners, structural engineers, civil engineers, hydrologists, geologists, flood control experts and economists should be entrusted with responsibility of formulating and implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction program in a time-bound manner,” Akther said.
The Committee, the PDP has advocated, should work under the direct supervision of Prime Minister to ensure effective implementation and delivery of the reconstruction plan as was done in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake that caused destruction in Bhuj area of Gujarat.
Akther said PDP also advocated for including Srinagar in Rs 7000 crore Smart Cities project announced in the Union Budget.
“One of my purposes of coming to Kashmir is to let people know that Kashmir as a tourist destination is safe,” Akther quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
“The focus should be on providing pre-fabricated shelters to the homeless and a special financial package for the trade, business, agriculture, horticulture and tourism sectors and in view of the upcoming winter, it has become imperative to ensure livable all-weather shelters for the flood-affected,” Akther said.
The PDP also took up with the PM that the financial package should include classifying all bank lendings in J&K, especially involving traders, small businesses and horticulturists, as priority sector lending and placing debt waiver and write-offs of the banks for the flood victims under CSR expenditure.
However, Congress—the National Conference’s ally in the government—stayed away from meeting the Prime Minister.
“The PCC decided not to meet the Prime Minister as we considered it was not necessary to do so. We have already taken a public stand on the package of relief and rehabilitation that Government of India should offer to flood affected people of the State,” said State Congress president Saif-ud-Din Soz.
A civil society formation—Kashmir Center for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS)—told the Prime Minister that “unprecedented delay in relief and rehabilitation measures is quite disturbing and infuriating.”
It impressed upon New Delhi to expedite the process of compensation of losses to the flood affected people.
“Looking at the magnitude of losses, it may be difficult for the central government to take up the task of reconstruction and rehabilitation of around 50 lakh flood affected people. Therefore, international aid by the United Nations, foreign countries, NGOs and individuals from across the globe should be allowed to flow into Kashmir as per the standard practice in the world during such disasters,” KCSDS member, ShakeelQalander, according to a statement, told the Prime Minister.
The KCSDS also demanded a high level judicial probe into the causes of flood and “criminal negligence” of warnings given in 2010 by the Flood Control department.