Four years after deluge, Valley women still picking up pieces, Traders decry lack of rehab

Even four years after the floods hit the summer capital, the memory of devastation they caused is still fresh in minds of many residents, especially women, who have worked hard to pick up the pieces since then.

Nasreen Bano, 45, who lives in Raj Bagh, one of the localities that was severely affected by September 2014 floods, has shifted along with her family to their new house just six months ago.

“We were unaware about the danger the floods posed when water entered our house on September 7, 2014. We ended up losing our single-storey house,” said Nasreen, who with her two children lived at a relative’s house for three years.

Left homeless, she started from the scratch. “It was not easy to rebuild everything. The last four years have been physically and mentally draining. Though we have to our new house, it is incomplete,” said Nasreen, a homemaker, adding that they had to borrow money from relatives and friends to build the house.

“The government’s compensation was not enough, and day-to-day expenses were hard to meet,” she said, adding that her husband works in private sector.

Nasreen, who has a 22-year-old son and a teenaged daughter, said, “Even the education of my two children suffered due to floods.”

Besides causing the loss to property, the floods have scarred residents mentally also.

“I dread rains now. The trauma of floods will never go away from my life,” said Saima Naseer, 28, another city resident.

“To reconstruct every bit of life is difficult, monetarily as well as emotionally. It took a great deal to cope with the losses,” she said.

Many women are worried about repaying the debt that they have accumulated for rebuilding their houses.

“We have just been able to raise four walls of the house. We received only the first instalment of the compensation from the government. We had to go to different banks for taking a home loan. We did not have any other option,” said 55-year-old Fazi Begum. She lives in Batamaloo where most of the houses were partially or fully damaged.

“That was a nightmare, if it happens again, we won’t be able to recover,” said Henna Jan, a resident of Hamdania Colony, Bemina. Her locality often gets submerged during heavy rains.

The water level in the Jhelum often swells after a downpour as the river has lost its carrying capacity due to the accumulated silt. Several measures were taken by the government but clearly they have failed to help.

“When the water level nears the danger mark, we make sure to shift our belongings to upper floors,” said Shazia, a resident of Nowgam.

Meanwhile, On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the September 2014 floods, traders on Thursday decried lack of proper rehabilitation measures for the victims.

“We are still awaiting rehabilitation. A few victims among the traders were compensated but around 65 per cent of them are still awaiting adequate compensation. Many have altogether given up hope for receiving aid from the government,” said Aijaz Shahdhar, vice-chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), an amalgam of traders’ bodies.

He said traders and shopkeepers of the city centre were the worst affected, and otherwise too they were not doing good business.

“Several areas like Lal Chowk, Karan Nagar and other marketplaces remained inundated for a long time and we suffered huge financial losses. Later, the 2016 unrest happened and shops of the area remained shut for around six months. The last four years have been very bad for us and we require major incentives from the government so that business activities revive fully,” said Shahdhar.

Traders Federation, Exhibition Road, Magarmal Crossing, general secretary Abdul Rauf said not only the shopkeepers but the residents too were waiting for compensation.