Accusing the Government of restricting its flood relief measures to making elusive announcements and dishing out vague policies, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today called for substantive action on providing shelters to the homeless, ensuring food security, reviving livelihood and restoring economy, a party statement said on Thursday.
The statement said, “Interacting with flood-affected shopkeepers, traders and businessmen here, Sayeed said instead of reaching out to the flood-affected people with substantive relief and rehabilitation measures, the State Government’s half-baked policies have created massive confusion among the sufferers.”
“Unfortunately, neither there is any clarity on the quantity of free rations to be given to the people, nor there is any clear-cut policy on financial assistance to be provided for damaged houses and business establishments resulting in lot of confusion on the ground,” he said and called for an unambiguous policy framework from the Government to help the flood-affected people get back on the move.
Sayeed said although there can be no compensation for the actual losses suffered by the people and the economy of the state because of the devastating floods, the Government should put into place an Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods (ESFL) programme to kick-start livelihood regeneration, the statement said.
“In order to help people pick up threads of life again, the Government while facilitating immediate settlement of insurance claims, must provide special grants to the uninsured businesses to enable revival of economic activity,” he said and added that in the cases involving uninsured businesses, the traders should be given the option of going for self-assessment of the losses which can be then verified by the local bazaar committees.
“And after verification by the local bazaar committees, the government must then compensate all such uninsured businesses,” he said and added that this can also have knock-on effect on rehabilitating community-level markets, many of which were closed following the floods, due to lack of money to purchase new stock.
The statement further quoted Sayeed saying that the financial package could include a new credit line with special interest rates, tax incentives, debt moratorium and investment privileges for the businesses affected by the floods.
He said besides providing assistance in cash to the affected families, the Government should create a material bank of bricks, wood, steel, cement, sand etc and provide the same on subsidized rates to the people whose houses and commercial establishments have been damaged by floods.
“Similarly colossal loss has been suffered by tourism sector, growers in agriculture and horticulture sectors and infrastructure. All of them shall have to be adequately compensated through an explicit relief package,” he said and called for putting in place a crop insurance scheme, covering agriculture and horticulture produce, for which the premium could be shared by the Government with the growers on 50:50 basis.
The former J&K CM said that in addition to housing, food and livelihood, the focus of rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts should be on immediate rebuilding of community infrastructure like dispensaries, hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, water supply schemes etc in the affected areas.
Speaking on the occasion, senior PDP leader Dr Haseeb Drabu, who is the party’s candidate for Rajpora assembly segment, said, “if it comes to power, PDP’s focus would be on infrastructure building in agriculture, horticulture, tourism and handicraft sectors to give a fillip to the State’s economy and create more job opportunities for the local youth by fully harnessing their enterprising skills.”
He said various multilateral institutions and major Indian corporates would be roped-in to build and fine-tune the infrastructure in these key sectors to achieve the desired levels of growth.