Ahead of flood anniversary, victims continue to struggle

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

 Just a few days have left when Kashmir will complete one year since September 7, 2014 devastating flood caused havoc here but still people are seen struggling to construct their lost houses.
Inflation of building components and under-compensation by the state are said to be the reasons for the delays in the construction that has hampered the normal and smooth conduct of life past one year.
Flood was not yet over when non-local labours fled away—fearing their lives—causing severe hike in labour charges that barred several hundred “wandering” families from speedy construction as they could not effort high charges.
For a “huge” sum of money that state distributed to “partially damaged” houses, they could hire a labour for 7 days at the maximum. Rs 3800 were given to them as flood succor who they handed over to a labour for exactly a week—just to clear the debris and flood mud. Rs 12500 were distributed to “severely damaged” houses.
Ab Majeed Bhat, a resident of Nowgam Kanipora whose house was under this category takes a cue of bollocking at the state. His one side of house was damaged—now repaired after selling flood hit land—which cost him not less than one lakh rupees.
 “This compensation aid was enough as labour charges for only 25 days if I would have hired only one labour, for 12 days if hired two labours. So I had to sell my land,” grudged Majeed.
With an increase in rates of labour and construction material after floods, rebuilding homes has become a costly affair for the families who were hit hard by the deluge last year.
A year after the floods hit parts of western and southern Srinagar, people have not been able to complete the construction works of their houses.
Rs 75000 were assisted to “fully damaged” houses. A total of 5896 fully damaged houses have been provided this assistance in Srinagar.
 “I have been reconstructing the damaged house for the last 11 months. The costs are huge even for a moderate house. We have spent around Rs 25 lakh till now, but still it is incomplete,” said Gulzar Ahmad, from Tankipora Colony, Srinagar.
Gulzar had lost his house to the unprecedented deluge last year. “We spent Rs 2 lakh just to remove the rubble of our house. But the government till now has given us just Rs 75,000 as compensation. We could not even construct with this amount,” he said.
The overflowing Jhelum had left a trail of destruction in the summer capital, causing an estimated loss of Rs 1 lakh crore and affecting the lives of 14 lakh people in the city. The floods also claimed 85 lives in the Kashmir valley.
The initial assessment report prepared by the state government, which provided a break-up of the colossal destruction, stated that 83,044 concrete houses were fully damaged while 96,089 had suffered partial damages in the disaster.
The state government had sought a special financial package of Rs 44,000 crore from the Central government for rehabilitation of flood-affected people and restoration of damaged infrastructure, but the Centre has so far announced only Rs 16-crore package. With no plans in line to announce comprehensive relief package for homeless, the wait for the flood-hit might just extend further.
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