13 months later, flood victims angry over slow rehabilitation

Thirteen months after the devastating floods, thousands of victims are angry over the paltry compensation provided by the state’s coalition government, which had promised swift rehabilitation.

13 months later, flood victims angry over slow rehabilitationThe state government has so far provided no compensation to thousands of affected businesses, which suffered great losses during the last year’s devastating floods with Srinagar city’s main trading centres submerged for over a month.

“The business community is not happy as they have not received anything,” Mushtaq Wani, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, told.

Wani, who represents more than 30,000 business and industrial units in Kashmir, said there was no update on a healthy rehabilitation package, which was promised by the Central and state governments. “We have held several meetings with the Chief Minister and he has given assurance that he will not rest till everyone gets compensation,” he said.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had vowed to give first priority to the rehabilitation of the flood-affected in his party’s manifesto that was drafted after the September’s deluge. The implementation of its vow has, however, been abysmal as long-term rehabilitation remains affected by lack of funds.

The initial estimate of losses suffered in the state, as per the previous government, was a staggering Rs 1 lakh crore. Subsequently, a proposal of Rs 44,000 crore was forwarded to the Central Government for funding the rehabilitation process.

The Central Government has so far provided Rs 5,039 crore in several instalments, the last one announced in June this year, for short-term relief and reconstruction measures in the state.

The state government has also been slow in disbursing interim relief to damaged residential houses. It took the state government several months to distribute the paltry first instalment of interim relief, which ranged from Rs 3,800 to partially damaged houses, Rs 12,600 to severely damaged houses and Rs 75,000 to fully damaged houses.

The slow rehabilitation has left residents of Srinagar city, which suffered most damages in the floods, and in other districts, disappointed. On the flood anniversary last month, which was marked by a shutdown called by traders, protests were also staged by residents in several areas of the city to expedite the rehabilitation process.

Nazir Ahmad, one-time supporter of the National Conference and owns a retail shop on Srinagar’s Exhibition Road, had voted for Mufti’s PDP earlier this winter with a hope that the party would act on its promise of giving top priority to rehabilitation. Months later, the shopkeeper has lost hope. “No shopkeeper in this market has received even a single penny,” he said.

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