Sheltering Them

The recent devastating floods left thousands of Kashmiris at the mercy of nature and under the open sky as their dwellings could not stand the ferocious Jhelum. As life starts to limp back to normal for a majority of flood affected people, there are those people as well who have nowhere to go. With their houses damaged and their belongings gone they are at the mercy of an insensitive government that has failed to respond in time. More than 45 days have passed since the floods but government has failed to even make proper arrangements for those who have lost their houses.

Even the tents in which these affected families are putting up are provided by NGO’s and not the government. There is no dearth of space if government is serious and sensitive towards those who are in need of shelter.

With winter approaching quicker than anticipated and harshly, there is an immediate need to think of ways and means to safe-guard people from another tragedy.

The biggest concern homeless people face right now is how they will survive the winters? Not at least in tents or under the open sky. But there is nobody from the government who will is willing to answer this simple question. Or make any efforts to identify alternatives for them. They have to manage everything on their own, like they did during the floods.

With tourism sector badly hit post-floods and majority of bookings already cancelled, there are thousands of rooms lying vacant in private hotels, government guest houses, Tourism Department and corporation owned accommodations that can be readily made available for the needy. But the question is who will take this initiative? The attitude that government has adopted towards flood victims is, let it be as it is rather than trying to fix things.

Thanks to NGO’s and local mosque committees the basic ground work of identifying the most deserving victims is already done. All government needs to do is to frame a long term policy that can guide the officials in-charge in rehabilitating the victims. Quick-fixes are not needed this time around.

Another issue that these people face is of compensation which state government has promised time and again, and in some cases dispensed too. But with just 75 thousand rupees for a completely damaged house, it looks like adding insult to the injury. How can a person rebuilt or even think of restarting his life with such a meagre amount? In most of the cases this amount helped only in getting the debris cleared. Rebuilding is unthinkable.

With elections just round the corner it is high time for Omar led government to start the process of rehabilitation. Given the magnitude of calamity the careless attitude of the government and its functionaries towards helpless victims is unpardonable.

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