Floods: A Year Later
Long road to recovery agonisingly slow
People picking up the pieces as rehab yet to gather pace
In the first week of September last year, Jammu and Kashmir recorded an unusually high amount of rain, ending with a devastating deluge that submerged residential and commercial neighbourhoods and struck a damaging blow to the region’s economy.
The south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama were the first to get affected by the floods in early September as heavy rain wrecked the region and swelled the streams into ravaging water bodies.
Many interlinking roads in south Kashmir and the stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu highway passing through the districts were blocked as the Jhelum began to overflow its embankments.
Kashmir had witnessed similar floods in 1903 and 1959, but the deluge of 2014 is considered to be the most severe and most destructive in magnitude as it was beyond the rescue and relief capacity of the state government.
The floods dealt the most severe blow when the floodwaters entered Srinagar on September 7 and marooned major residential and commercial neighbourhoods and headquarters of the state government, police and emergency services.
Within hours, most parts of western, central and eastern Srinagar were under 10 to 15 feet of water, creating one of the most distressing humanitarian crises in the region.
Thousands were stranded in the upper storeys of their houses and thousands others displaced, taking shelter in makeshift camps.
For the rest of September, Kashmir struggled with immediate relief and rehabilitation. Communication systems were paralysed and shortage of medicines, food and other essential supplies worsened chaos.
The first response to the devastating floods came from young men who risked their lives to carry out rescue and relief operations.
In the aftermath of the floods, its victims had to undergo a long and agonising wait for rehabilitation and rebuilding of their lives. The state government made a slow start in disbursing interim relief and it took nearly six months for release of the first instalment.
In Jammu division, the floods left a trail of death. Nearly 200 persons lost their lives in flash floods triggered by heavy rain. In Udhampur and Rajouri districts, 33 bodies could not be recovered so far.
Survivors of the Rajouri bus mishap, in which 67 members of a marriage party were washed away, were scarred with painful memories. At least 15 bodies could not be traced so far.The administration is yet to provide permanent road connectivity to Poonch town as the two main bridges —Sher-e-Kashmir and Nangali — are yet to be restored.
Destruction in numbers
bridges/culverts – 550
road network – 6,000 kmpucca houses fully damaged: 83,044 pucca houses partially damaged: 96,089kutcha houses fully damaged: 21,162 kutcha houses partially damaged: 54,264
huts, cowsheds damaged: 99,305
Public health engineering
loss: Rs 162.85 crore
total rubble removed from srinagar: 68,000 tonne Agriculturetotal loss: Rs 4,043 croreHorticulturetotal loss: Rs 1,568 croreCattle perished
milch cattle: 10,050
Water levelseptember 3: At 6 pm, Jhelum crosses danger level (red mark) at Sangamseptember 4: At midnight, Jhelum crosses danger level at Srinagar september 5: At 7 am, Jhelum crosses danger level at Asham Interim relieffor partially damaged houses: Rs 3,800 (already given)for severely damaged houses: Rs 12,600 (1st instalment given), Rs 50,000 (2nd instalment underway)for fully damaged houses: Rs 75,000 (1st instalment given), Rs 1 lakh (2nd instalment given), Rs 1 lakh (3rd instalment underway)
Affected population12.5 lakh families
Estimated lossRs 100,000 crore
Total structures damaged3,53,864
Submerged for over two weeks 800 villagesGovt’s rehab proposal Rs 44,000 crore