Urging for declaring the Jammu and Kashmir floods as ‘National Calamity’ Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti Friday took up the issue of rescue and relief operations in the state with the Union government and urged it to intervene in a big way.
Mehbooba called the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh over phone and expressed her disappointment at the inadequate response to the disaster in the state which has already taken a heavy toll of life, property and infrastructure. She told the Home Minister that even though the fury of the weather still continues to unfold there is already a disaster of unprecedented dimensions taking shape. She said that the floods in J&K should be declared as ‘National Calamity’.
The PDP Chief told the Home Minister that it was unfortunate to find that a disaster management exercise was still nowhere in sight. Mehbooba said the concern that was rightly shown towards the people affected by the recent ceasefire violations in the state is clearly missing this time.
She said more than 70 people had so far lost their lives in Jammu & Kashmir regions and there was a massive damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges, embankments, power and water supply lines. She said while the long term relief and rehabilitation package will have to be worked out keeping in view the extent of damage, the rescue operations could not be delayed as a large number of people were facing threat to their lives in cities, village and remote hilly areas alike.
Mehbooba said the disaster was beyond the resources and capacities of the state and the Centre needs to come in a big way to the rescue of the people. She said many places cannot be reached except by air to save the marooned and inundated population or take relief material to them as road communication has been badly hit.
The PDP president said the state government has failed to perform its duty during the last six years and has been unable to establish a full-fledged Disaster Management Agency in the state. She said in this age of accurate meteorological forecast it is an appalling failure of the state government that they could not mobilize men and material in time. “Even the traditional flood control measures like sand bags are unavailable and the elementary rescue apparatus, the boasts are in short supply. There is a huge deficit of boats and even their deployment is not done properly,” she added.
Mehbooba said the governments are put to test at the times of emergency and this government is fully exposed for its failure to rise to the occasion. “While the field officers needed logistical backup and independence of action they are mostly engaged in organizing photo ops for the Chief Minister,” she said.
Referring to the cancellation of Home Minister’s scheduled visit to the state Mehbooba told Singh that it would have been appropriate for him to visit the state to have a feel of the situation personally and realize the extent of damage and misery facing the people. It is at testing times like this that the governments must reach out to the people with a sensitive approach and open heart, she said.
Meanwhile, Mehbooba also spoke to the Core Commander in Srinagar and urged him to organize rescue and relief operations and help the state administration and local people in this hour of crisis. She told him that boats were required in large numbers in almost all the areas and that needed to be accorded priority. The Core Commander assured her of all possible help and assistance in reaching out to the affected people with relief and rescue measures.