Delhi Seeks Rs 650 Cr for Flood Rescue Operations

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Shah Abbas

SRINAGAR

As Omar Abdullah government is waiting for the Rs 1000 crore grant that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on the second day of his aerial visit to flood devastated Kashmir, New Delhi has raised a demand of Rs 650 crore. This substantial amount envisages the costs that IAF has raised for the rescue operations and the initial relief material (Biscuits etc) that was air dropped.

Official sources said a formal bill was yet to be received by the state government but the officials have been sounded about the costs that involved in the “massive” rescue and relief operations by the army, the IAF, the NDRF and other forces. The information came to the state at a time when it was waiting for the first penny from the Rs 1000 crore grant that Modi announced on September 7 when he could drive up to Humhama from the technical airport and flew back after an aerial survey.

The government expects the bills being raised would possibly be deducted from the aid already announced by the government of India.

This information was part of some of the revelations that Omar Abdullah government made in a meeting with traders late last night. The objective of the meeting was to persuade the trade from protesting on the streets, an idea that trade rejected for “very valid reasons”.

Individuals who were part of the meeting said Omar was visibly upset over the tardy response that the flood devastated people were getting from his government both at political and the official level.

Trade singled out the “help” that the Kashmir got from the central government in last six weeks after the floods. The first thing that the central government did was to fly its Income Tax office to Jammu and issue the notices to the traders. Some of the traders who were inundated received the notice within hours after being rescued by the volunteers, the trade said. Omar, according to an insider termed notices shameful.

The second issue that traders highlighted was how BSNL forced its clients to cough up the bills of September when there was no service and literally there was no address of New Delhi’s PSU in Kashmir. Most of the trade had to pay the bill merely to save their cell phone numbers which are now part of the individual identity of the mobile phone users.

At the same time, however, the trade did not spear the state government and its entities. They specially mentioned the state owned J&K Bank that, according to traders, charged the interest on the loans for the month of September when entire Valley including most of the bank’s outposts were under water. A shocked Omar reacted to the decision using very bad adjectives, sources said.

Omar could not justify the functioning of his government in the meeting, sources said. Trade mentioned the tardy implementation of the initiatives that were already announced. Even after six weeks of the tragedy, the state government has not dispensed even Rs 100 crore so far. The state government has made more purchases by debit to SDRF for the public infrastructure than on the relief front, sources said.

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