News Notes

Vanished VILLAGE

People watching houseboat caught in flood in Dal Lake
People watching houseboat caught in flood in Dal Lake

More than three weeks ago when the floods had shattered the heart of Kashmir valley, a torrent of flood, hideously, washed off a complete village in south Kashmir’s Tral.

The Aaligund hamlet in Tral town of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district was wiped off from the map along with all the houses and cattle. However, more than two dozen families of the village escaped the slide by a whisker. The families though managed to migrate to safer places.

“We lost everything. We are finished. From past 25 days we have been spending days and nights in temporary tents while government has provided us no relief,” Ghulam Ahmed Mir, an aged resident of the hamlet told a local news agency.

According to Mir, the speedy waters in Chandri Nallah washed away all houses in the area. The water entered into the village during the night and swept off everything including livestock and property.

Villagers allege that not a single official from the administration visited the place. For last two weeks the villagers have been living on the relief provided by the local population. “Our children are sick and we are dying of starvation,” said Mir

Officials on the other hand claim that they have already assessed the loss suffered by these people and necessary help would be provided to them.

Irking NETWORKS

The devastating deluge is already a month old now, but Cellular companies especially Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Bharti Airtel have miserable failed to restore the normal connectivity and internet services in Srinagar city.

As per the reports of a local news agency, Airtel does not function at all in major parts of the city. The connectivity is so weak that most of the time the mobile phones show no signal. Hundreds of Airtel subscribers from various localities in Srinagar are continuously complaining of ‘poor mobile services.’

BSNL and Airtel broadband subscribers from different parts of Srinagar city have said that from September these cellular companies have failed to provide them normal services. They said that not a single official from these companies are informing subscribers how much time it will take to get their networks restored in Srinagar city.

A BSNL subscriber Firdous Ahmed from Jawahar Nagar said that what troubles you more is that there “is no one to pay heed to our grievances.” The angry subscribers said the service of BSNL and Bharti Airtel have been going from bad to worse with every passing day.

Reports said that across Srinagar city poor connectivity, call drops, weak signal and other irritants have become perennial problems with BSNL and Airtel service. Subscribers rued that they are suffering because there is lack of accountability in the department.

“Airtel  extracts money from us for poor service. The apathy is that company employees don’t take care of subscribers unlike the other private cellular companies because they think they are the best,” an angry subscriber whose mobile shows no signal soon after reaching his residence said.

Dusty WARNING

In the aftermath of September 7, Medical experts have warned dusty roads that have become a characteristic of Srinagar city and other districts could cause serious harm to the health of commuters who are regularly exposed to it.

Former Director Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar told a local news agency that dusty roads could cause many health problems. “The harmful effects could be of varying degrees. Breathing problems, nose blocks, asthma, and even lung damage could occur when a person inhales a lot of dust,” Dr Zargar said.

Dr Zargar also said that silica particles, when breathed in, get deposited in the lungs and it would be impossible to take them out. “This deposition can cause swelling and lung damage,” he said.

President Doctors Association Dr Nisar-ul-Hasan warned commuters of the problems that could be caused by the eyes getting exposed to dust. He said that generally, dust in the eyes was cleared by the fine tears, but due to excessive dust, this becomes harder. “This would result in infections and irritations in the eye,” he said.

Dr Hasan said the air pollution levels in Srinagar city are already quite high and due to increased dust on the road, the pollution levels were reaching alarming levels. He further added the dust can cause skin allergies and irritations like dermatitis and eczema.

Accounting RELIEF

Advising state government to constitute a special team before offices move to Jammu, Former Chairman of Minority Commission Wajahat Habibullah Wednesday said that agencies and teams helping in relief distribution process must be made accountable.

Wajahat Habibullah told a local news gathering agency, that Indian Civil Society have already dispatched scores of relief laden trucks to Kashmir Valley. “We have sent medicines, food items, blankets, tents, clothes, water and we hope the state government would have distributed this relief among flood victims,” he said adding that they have secured heavy water pumps from Orissa government which would prove helpful in dewatering the inundated areas of Srinagar city.

Wajahat said from New Delhi that all the eminent personalities that have served in Kashmir held brainstorming sessions in Delhi to find ways and means to relieve affected people of Valley from the hardships.

He further said that devastating floods paralyzed whole State machinery as a result government could not do what people had expected from it. “It is a very difficult situation for the government. The State Government must open up a mini-Secretariat in Srinagar and it should constitute a special team before Darbar Move which could look into the operations of relief and rehabilitation process,” Wajahat said adding that the said team must be made accountable for the work assigned to them.

‘Misleading’ WHO

A Kashmir civil society group Saturday claimed that WHO’s representative in India is misleading United Nation over the healthcare sector in state of Jammu and Kashmir after the devastating floods.

A press statement issued by JKCCS said that it had wrote a letter, after historic floods hit Kashmir, to Dr Margaret Chan, Director General United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland appealing for intervention/assistance of WHO in Jammu and Kashmir.

“On 29 September 2014, WHO India submitted a one page response to six questions posed by the journalist. This response, attributed to Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India is the official position of WHO India on the present health crisis in Jammu and Kashmir,” reads the handout.

The group claimed: “The responses apparently based on Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India inputs, are factually incorrect, and a complete misrepresentation of the dire situation on ground.”

The group further stated that WHO India concludes by incorrectly stating: “The government has been intervening to tackle the potential adverse public health consequence of this disaster especially as related to water and sanitation and control of communicable diseases.”

Dumped MARKET   

After the recent devastating flood that halted life in Kashmir, the life in Srinagar’s business hub, Lal Chowk is still not returning to its normalcy.

Almost a month has passed since the flood submerged whole Kashmir but its repercussions are visible all around. For most of the people living in this business hub, life was never so quite before Eid, which will be celebrated on Monday.

“That hustle and bustle of Lal Chowk on Eid like festive has been lost. During such occasions markets used to remain overcrowded with shoppers. Pavement sellers would spread their merchandise on pedestrian malls. Makeshift markets would result in endless traffic jams in city,” said a shopkeeper on Residency Road, who is busy in cleaning his shop.

Instead locals are found waiting for relief material, including cooking gas, kerosene oil and medicines. In addition to that the public anger is growing fast as locals blame the state government for its failure to ‘streamline’ the relief and rehabilitation process.

In addition to the loss of local shopkeepers in Lal Chowk, another worst hit is the sale of sacrificial animals.

“More than 50 percent of my last year’s buyers have not visited me this year. Even those who came are doing it partially like a buyer who used to take four sheep, is buying only one this year,” said a local, who sells sacrificial animals, to Delhi based news gathering agency.

The most sought after bakery shops, who used to earn in crores on Eid festivals on Maulana Azad Road and Residency Road, are still closed after the floods hit them.

Aiding HAND

On the eve of Eid festival, ‘Athrout’, a local NGO, is distributing ‘special packets’ of bakery items to the flood affected families of various areas.

“We have packed about 500 packets, which include biscuits, cookies and some namkeen for the flood hit victims. We thought people are in dire need of such things,” said Bashir Ahmad Nadwi, Chairman ‘Athrout’. He added that these packets were donated by some locals and each packets cost them Rs 550- 650.

‘Athrout’ is going to distribute these packets in the area, which were badly hit by the recent devastating flood, Sutra Shahi, Mandir Bagh, Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar and on Foreshore road.

Pertinently, ‘Athrout’ is the same NGO that came up for rescue and relief in various badly hit areas and they were the first to reach out to the SMHS.

Countering EPIDEMIC

The department of Health and Medical Education has constituted 12 Rapid Reaction (RR) Teams to counter the outbreak of any epidemic, if any, following the recent floods in the valley.

Out of these 12 teams, 3 have been constituted in Srinagar city while as rest have been setup in all other districts of the valley, reads an official statement: “Though the possibility of spread of any epidemic or disease has been ruled out by the experts, the step has been taken as a precaution and backup support.”

Meanwhile immunization of the children in the age group of 6 months to 15 years is going on in state with more than 7 lakh vaccines done already.

The statement also informs that all the territiary care hospitals in city have started functioning with the resumption of IPD and Blood Banks.

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