Calling for a high level inquiry into the management of recent floods, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said it needs to be conclusively established whether every effort was made to save Srinagar and other areas from the deluge. Addressing a meeting of the senior party leaders, legislators, constituency in charges and prominent workers Monday which was convened to take stock of the unprecedented devastation caused by the flood he said there is an impression that the established flood control practices were not followed which could be the reason for widespread destruction of the capital city.
Mufti said the flood had resulted in complete collapse of the command and control system besides hitting the jugular vein of Kashmir’s economy. He said the focus of the flood control strategy in Kashmir has always been the prime concern for the safety of capital as any damage to the seat of power and hub of business affects entire state. “The sequence of events would suggest that the centuries old established procedure was not followed fully which could have contributed to the catastrophe” he added.
Mufti said such an event having taken place in spite of advance warnings and a week long rise in water levels indicates criminal negligence in meeting the challenge which calls for fixing of responsibility for such a costly failure that has taken lives, properties, businesses, official and personal records and public infrastructure. “Inquiry is also unavoidable to prevent dereliction of duty in future if that is established” said Mufti.
Mufti said the damage caused to residential houses and business premises, merchandise and industry, tourism, agricultural and horticulture is colossal and heart rending and it will need a massive effort by all to rebuild Kashmir and lives of its residents. He said while most areas of Kashmir valley like South Kashmir and many places in North Kashmir and Jammu like the Pir Panjal and Udhampur took the brunt of flood, the destruction of Srinagar and its reconstruction represent the biggest challenge.
Describing the role of the youth in saving lives and extending relief to the flood victims in absence of an organized response from the government as truly heroic, Mufti said our youth present the silver lining on an otherwise gloomy horizon. He said Kashmir has rediscovered itself in this most trying and adverse juncture of its history through its young population. “ Irrespective of caste , creed or religion our youngsters extended support to everyone in distress and organized themselves into an energetic, selfless and innovative force which I am sure is capable of writing a new chapter in Kashmir’s history”, he said.
Mufti said the destruction caused by the flood and the response of our society to it offers a unique opportunity as well and this could be our defining moment to rebuild Jammu and Kashmir around the dreams, capabilities and creativity of our youth. “I dedicate my party and my services to build a state with the participation of our youth that revives our glory and offers unlimited opportunities of growth to everyone. Our people have established that they can create a world of their own through their selfless service and the never say die spirit and the PDP will be with them in this exciting enterprise”, Mufti said.
Advising the party cadres and leaders to keep serving the people shoulder to shoulder with the masses as they did so far in the present crisis Mufti said immediate relief is of importance but we have to get essentially into long term reconstruction plans. He said it was unfortunate that the state government had failed even in management of relief and the ruling parties were now trying to sail through the public anger by partisan distribution of even elementary requirements like food, tents and medicine.
Mufti urged the government to establish a credible and impartial monitoring system to ensure transparency in distribution of relief. He said it could even be an all party monitoring system so as to ensure that the relief reaches the deserving and is not misappropriated by any one as it is now widely perceived that the real victims have been left high and dry and relief items have been handed over to some politicians.
Referring to the need for providing proper shelter to those rendered homeless by flood that are living under plastic sheets or wreckage of their homes Mufti said the state government has failed even after three weeks to provide any shelter to them. He said it is painful to see women and children living in the open on pavements and their dignity compromised. “It seems the government is unaware of the enormity of the problem at hand”, he said. Mufti said pre-fabricated sheds be immediately provided to the flood sufferers in view of the ensuing winters.
The meeting expressed deep grief at the loss of life and property and extended its sympathy to the affected families. It resolved to continue to work for post flood reconstruction along with the common masses as the party cadre has silently been working for relief and rescue.
Apart from the party president, Mehbooba Mufti; parliamentarians, Muzaffar Hussain Baig & Tariq Hameed Karra, party General Secretary, Mohammad Dilawar Mir; senior leader Vikramaditya Singh, state secretary, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, all legislators, besides prominent workers and youth leaders participated in the meeting.