Anil Goswami, J&K cadre IAS officer, who is now Home Secretary of India issued a detailed statement to the media at a press conference at airport Thursday evening. He took no questions saying the Prime Minister has already spoken on various issues.
Here is the statement that he distributed to the media:
“Hon’ble Prime Minister of India visited Srinagar on 23rd October, 2014 i.e. today to spend the Deepawali day with the people of J&K and to review the work related to relief and rehabilitation for the people affected by the recent floods. Hon’ble PM also reviewed the work related to re-construction and restoration of public infrastructure i.e. roads, bridges, schools, hospitals etc. During the visit, the Hon’ble PM had detailed discussions with the Hon’ble Chif Minister and other functionaries of the State Government of J&K to take stock of the work connected with the assessment of loses and steps taken for providing immediate relief to the affected people particularly to meet the challenge of the impending harsh winter. The Hon’ble PM also interacted with the representatives of major political parties; Fruit and saffron growers association; Hoteliers, houseboat owners, shikarawalas, travel agents; NGOs/Volunteers/Civil society; trade and industry; private / Missionary schools; Transporters; Handloom / handicraft sector and academicians. The suggestions and demands put forth by the State Government and other groups have been duly taken note of briefly these were:
1. Fruit and saffron growers association highlighted that most of the growers have suffered heavy losses to their crops. Besides, the fruit that is available, is not being purchased at proper rates by the dealers in Delhi and other parts of the country. They requested for assistance in selling the apple, saffron and other produce in the market, crop insurance, cold storage and cold chain facility, subsidy for transporting the produce to the Market, and moratorium on bank loans re-payment/soft loans facility.
2. The Hoteliers, houseboat owners, shikarawalas, travel agents pointed out that a large number of business establishments have suffered total losses and have demanded ex-gratia for business losses, concessional/soft loan facility, 10 years tax holiday, speedy settlement of the insurance claims, and negating the adverse publicity generated in the media about J&K. they have particularly requested the media to highlight J&K as a safe tourist destination and a great place for organizing national and international conferences / meetings / seminar.
3. The NGOs/Civil society has highlighted the need for taking preventive measures for avoiding disasters, effective disaster mitigation plan, rent for the people whose houses have been damaged, restoration of livelihoods, putting the public health delivery system back in place, restoration of classroom studies of students in the flood affected areas.
4. The representatives of the trade and industry and Handloom/handicraft sector desired steps for revival of the economic activity in the State including soft loans, moratorium on the interest and principal for 2-3 years, faster settlement of insurance claims, financial assistance for the losses suffered by the merchants and businessmen.
5. Private / Missionary schools and academicians highlighted the plight of the students and have asked for all possible assistance for the early restoration of classroom studies of students in the flood affected areas, and assistance in providing books/stationery and fee waiver to the needy students.
6. The transporters informed that a large number of vehicles have been completely or partially damaged and their offices have been completely destroyed. The also highlighted that the drivers, conductors, cleaners and other staff of such vehicles have become unemployed. Therefore they requested for financial assistance in form of ex-gratia and soft loans for revival of the transport sector.
The State Government has presented a memorandum for seeking special package for rehabilitation of the flood victims. However, detailed assessment of losses is yet to be completed by the State Government. The Hon’ble PM has directed the concerned officers of the Central government that as soon as the detailed assessment of the State Government is completed, they should examine the memorandum quickly with due sensitivity. He has also directed that all necessary steps be taken for providing relief to the affected people and for restoration of normal life. He particularly emphasized the need for providing immediate relief to the people residing in tents and temporary shelters, revival of economic activity in the State, addressing sustainable livelihood issues, quick settlement of insurance claims, speedy restoration of public infrastructure, strengthening of State Disaster Management Authority and preparation of contingency plan for effective handling of such a challenge in future.
Hon’ble PM has stated that good governance, quick restoration of public infrastructure, revival of economic activity and creation of conducive environment for bringing the tourists to the State is the key to bring normalcy. He said that his visit to Srinagar on the occasion of Deepawali will send out a signal that everything is fine in the valley and this will help promote tourism.
Speaking to the media after conclusion of meetings, he announced:
(1) Release of an amount of Rs. 570 crores for the repairs of houses damaged in the recent floods.
(2) Provision of Rs. 175 crores for restoration of hospitals in Srinagar, Jammu and Leh.
(3) Free replacement of books and notebooks to all the children upto primary and upper primary level schools.
(4) That Rs. 1,000 crores announced by him during his last visit to the valley has been released by the Central Government and the same needs to be spent quickly by the State Government.
(5) That the State Government has submitted a memorandum for seeking special package for rehabilitation of the flood victims. He stated that appropriate funds will be released after examination of the memorandum by the Central Government.”