Northern India: Kashmiris Still Waiting for Post-Flood Aid Money

By Adeel Shah

2015-03-26
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150326-IN-cows-620 Srinagar Municipality employees move carcasses of cattle killed in floods in the Kashmiri city, Sept. 16, 2014.
AFP

Six months after floods devastated Srinagar city and parts of the Kashmir Valley, locals say the Indian government has yet to deliver on its promise of sending the state a huge relief package to help them rebuild their broken homes and businesses.

The floods killed more than 250 people and caused billions in property losses. Many of the families that were displaced in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, still are spending nights out in the cold, huddling inside makeshift living quarters such as tents and huts.

“Political parties have used the floods as an issue during the elections,” but the central government, the state’s recently supplanted government, as well as its new administration, have done little to help victims like him recover from the floods, Maroof Younis, 34, a resident of Shivpora, complained.

“Prime Minister Modi visited Kashmir several times and extended his sympathies, but he has yet to do something.”

Younis, whose three-story house was severely damaged, has only seen one small installment of governmental aid money reach his hands.

“We were paid 12,000 rupees (U.S. $191) three months ago, against the damage of 8 lakh (800,000) rupees (U.S. $12,731),” he told BenarNews.

“Let us hope the new government will do us justice,” he said, referring to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition state government, which took power on March 1.

“The PDP said that, by joining hands with the BJP, we would get more money from the central government, but now where is the promised money?” he asked. “I wish the new government would fulfill all of their promises,” said Liyaqat Ahmad Khan, 43, whose home on the outskirts of Srinagar was submerged in flood waters for 15 days.  

Officials: Relief on way

According to the state’s new government, post-flood reconstruction projects will get under way within the next six weeks.

“The present government is very serious about the rehabilitation of the flood victims,” Muhammad Ashraf Mir, the state’s deputy chief minister for Power, Housing and Urban Development, told BenarNews.

“We are seeking help from the central government, and I’m sure flood affected people will be provided sufficient compensation.”

To that end, the coalition government has formed a committee to fast-track the state’s relief and rehabilitation process.

In February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved 4.26 billion rupees (U.S. $67.9 million) in aid to the flood-victimized state. Officials said the aid would benefit more than 187,000 homeowners across Kashmir.

However, the Union government has yet to approve a 440 billion-rupee (U.S. $7 billion) request for flood-relief money, which the state’s previous government had sent to New Delhi.



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