Flood panic in Kashmir, Centre sends rescue forces!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Jammu Kashmir is again in the grip of flood panic on March 30 as several areas of the Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu were in deluge caused by rains due to which four people have died and fate of at least 13 others was unknown.
Kashmir valley was a witness to unprecedented devastating floods only seven months ago, but Kashmiris face the same ill-fate again now. As authorities declared a flood situation in Kashmir, the Centre and the state government swung into action, with eight teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) being rushed to the Valley to help in rescue and relief.
The heavy downpour has caused fresh landslides along the 294-km Srinagar-Jammu National Highway as the only all weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country remained closed for the third straight day today. Authorities have also issued an avalanche warning for seven districts of Kashmir division and advised people not to move around.
Over 280 people had been killed and tens of thousands left homeless and property worth hundreds of crores of rupees damaged in unprecedented floods in the state in September last year. Refusing to take any chances this time, people started shifting to safer places. Civil administration and police also asked people living along the banks of River Jhelum to move to safer places.
The Centre assured all help to the state government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed is trusted minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the only Muslim face of BJP in the government to the Valley for on-the-spot assessment and coordinate with state authorities with regard to the assistance required. Before leaving for the Valley, Naqvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is also worried about the situation and he is ready and committed to help the people”. “The Centre is committed to provide all help required by the state,” he said. He said there was no need for panic as “our governments, both in the state and at the Centre, are committed to do everything. We will not be found lagging in anything.”
JK Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed told Assembly in Jammu after visiting affected areas of Srinagar that the central government led by PM Narendra Modi has granted Rs 200 crore as immediate relief and the state government has sanctioned Rs 35 crore — Rs 25 crore for Kashmir and Rs 10 crore for Jammu region which also has been affected by flood. CM Sayeed said one person died and 10 others are trapped in the debris of a house which collapsed in Laldan area of Budgam district of Kashmir valley due to floods. “We hope and pray that all of them survive. As of now we are not in a position to confirm either way,” he said.
Due to heavy rains over the past 36 hours, river Jhelum was flowing above the danger mark at several places including Sangam in Anantnag district and Ram Munshi Bagh in the city. Flood water entered several low-lying areas of Kashmir, including capital Srinagar, leading to panic among the locals for whom memories of the devastating deluge only seven months back are fresh in mind. Police later said that three women have died while at least 13 other people are believed to be trapped in the debris after a landslide brought down four houses in Budgam.
Schools have been shut down for the next four days and board examinations postponed for two days. Three control rooms have been set up with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed along with a team of Ministers monitoring the whole situation in the Valley and supervising the administrative response to safeguard life and property of people.
Sayeed said there was an “unfortunate” death in Udhampur and there have been some flash floods in Jammu as well. “We are watching the situation,” he said.
Rainfall stopped in the city this morning and slowed down in south Kashmir. However, according to Met department heavy rainfall is likely to occur at isolated places in the state over the next few days. Temporary camps have been set up in various government buildings for people who have been forced to leave their homes. Nearly 250 families were evacuated to safer areas from across the flood prone areas of the valley yesterday while over 40 structures were damaged due to landslides on Friday in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district.
The NDRF teams have been airlifted along with all equipment like communication, rescue and retrieval gadgets as per the standard operating procedures.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and conveyed to him that relief materials are being air dashed to the flood-affected valley in the shortest possible time. During the telephonic talk, the Chief Minister briefed the Home Minister about the prevailing flood situation in Kashmir valley and the steps being taken for rescue and providing relief to the affected people. Singh assured full central assistance to tackle the flood situation and conveyed to Mufti that relief materials are being airlifted to the valley in shortest possible time to help the state government in rescue and relief operations.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voiced hope that authorities will take adequate steps to help the people. “We don’t want to play politics on the situation. It has been only seven months and once again the people are face to face with another tragedy,” he told reporters.
The way the central government has come up all out to help the state of Jammu Kashmir with human as well as monetary resources in plenty shows the seriously positive attitude of the Modi government towards mitigating the sufferings of Kashmiris.