Affected people rue official apathy, poor rehabilitation process
The people whose houses have collapsed in the devastating floods in Kashmir recently, Monday decried the inordinate delay by the government with regard to their rehabilitation.
Most of the flood victims said despite assessment of damages by the Revenue authorities over a month ago, they are yet to receive any compensation.
“A month has passed since officials of Revenue department declared my house as unsafe. But I am yet to receive a single penny as compensation from the government,” rued Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Jawahar Nagar, one of the worst-affected areas.
Ahmad said the walls of his house have developed deep cracks as it remained submerged in flood waters for over three weeks.
“It is risky for my family to live in the house as it can collapse any time. I appeal the government to provide me immediate compensation according the assessment already done by its officials so that I can reconstruct the house before it snows,” he said. Most of the flood affected persons in Jawahar Nagar and its adjoining areas said they have received only Rs 75,000 interim relief till date. “We spent over one lakh rupees only to remove debris from our collapsed house. How can we reconstruct our houses with this paltry amount?” they asked.
The State Cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on October 10 had approved payment of ex-gratia relief against loss of private structures, to the tune of Rs 9 lakh for fully damaged Pucca houses, Rs 6 lakh for fully damaged Kucha Houses, Rs 4 Lakh for partially damaged Kucha-Pucca Houses including boundary walls and Rs. 1 lakh for other structures. “If the Government is serious about our rehabilitation, it should release the full compensation amount without any further delay,” the aggrieved flood victims said.
In adjoining Padshahbagh locality, the flood victims shared the same story. “Flood waters damaged the ground floor of my house. Ironically, despite the damage assessment done last month, the authorities have not compensated me,” said Mushtaq Ahmad of Padshahibagh locality. “The Government should expedite the rehabilitation process on priority before it snows in Kashmir.”
People in other flood-hit areas including Shivpora, Sonwar, Dalgate and Indira Nagar said they received paltry cheques as compensation. “Our area was worst affected by the floods, but we received Rs 3500 to Rs 12,000 as compensation by the Revenue authorities for losses worth lakhs of rupees. We urge the authorities to reassess the losses and immediately undertake our rehabilitation,” said a group of residents of Sonwar, here.
The flood victims also rued the “indifferent attitude” of insurance companies. “The Insurance companies are violating the High Court orders by resorting to dilly-dallying tactics to settle our claims. We have been left to fend for ourselves by both government and the insurance companies,” they said.
Many flood victims slammed the government for “engaging the entire state administration in the Assembly elections.”
“The Government’s priority is elections, not people. It is condemnable that we haven’t been provided with any financial assistance so far,” said Ghulam Qadir, a resident of flood-hit Bemina.
Reports of government failing to provide compensation to flood-hit people were also received from districts of Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Rohit Kansal said he has formed grievance cells led by Additional Deputy Commissioners, in every district. “If floods victims in any district have not received compensation so far or are not satisfied with the compensation amount, they can lodge a complaint with their respective grievance cells and seek redressal. Government is committed to undertake rehabilitation of the flood affected persons,” he told