Describing the youth as the greatest asset available with the State, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Thursday hailed the efforts of the local volunteers, national and international NGOs, police and the security forces in launching massive rescue and relief operations and saving precious lives during the devastating floods that hit J&K in September 2014.
The Chief Minister said the Government will formally recognize the valiant efforts of these brave persons, an official statement said this evening.
Mufti Sayeed was speaking in two separate functions after handing-over relief cheques to the uninsured marginal traders and destitute of Islamabad, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts of South Kashmir, whose livelihoods were washed away in the raging waters of Jhelum and its tributaries last year.
Asserting that he is averse to doing politics over a grave humanitarian crisis that hit the State, the Chief Minister said reviving the livelihood of the most-weaker sections of the society, is his prime concern.
“I still feel the helplessness of the people when I met them here at Khannabal Dak Bungalow last year. With their lives in tatters, I resolved not to rest till I remove the sufferings of all the affected people,” he promised.
Referring to the unprecedented floods in more than a century that caused extensive damage and halted State’s economic growth, the Chief Minister said the Government will soon embark on a massive reconstruction programme to put the infrastructure back on track.
“Leaving apart other important issues confronting the State, I only discussed with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi the concrete measures to be taken to ameliorate the sufferings of the flood-affected people and restoration of damaged infrastructure,” he said.
Sayeed said that following his meeting with the Prime Minister, things have started moving positively and he will not rest till all are rehabilitated in a time-bound manner.
The Chief Minister made a special mention of the voluntary efforts of the local youth and reinforcements rushed by the Central Government in rescuing marooned people, when the surging waters of river Jhelum had literally collapsed the State administration. He said the efforts of these brave men who put their lives at risk and saved many others will be recognized by the Government, the statement informed.
Praising the people from within and outside the State in providing timely relief to the victims, the Chief Minister thanked their collective and individual efforts in providing support to the helpless victims at the time of the tragedy.
Referring to the steps being taken by the Government to minimize the damage caused by floods and other vagaries of nature, Sayeed stated that dredging the riverbeds and strengthening the embankments will be undertaken on priority to prevent rivers and the rivulets from going wild.
“We have to be pre-emptive in providing advance information to the people living in low-lying areas,” he added.
The Chief Minister further said that the State is pursuing Rs 2500 crore Comprehensive Flood Management Programme with the Centre to increase the carrying-capacity of the rivers and fortifying the alternate spill-over channels. “We will also examine calamity-resistant prototypes to minimize the damage to permanent structures in future,” stated the Chief Minister.
The Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, also spoke on the occasion and said that complete rebuilding lives of the affected people and restoring infrastructure will be a “gradual process”. “The Government is first focusing on revival of small business activities of those shopkeepers and traders whose turnover is less than Rs 5 lakh. Subsequently, he said the Government will provide compensation to those whose business turnover exceeds Rs. 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively. “The people whose houses were damaged extensively in the floods will also be compensated,” he added.
In all, 1027 small traders from Islamabad, 400 from Kulgam and 100 each from Pulwama and Shopian districts were handed over relief cheques today. Several others will be provided cash assistance after their verification processes are completed by the respective district administrations.