Mirage of Flood Rehabilitation

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While central government is yet to get  back to the state government on Rs 44000 flood rehabilitation package, the World Bank has approved  250 million dollar  for strengthening “the capacity of the state government to respond to and better manage natural disasters in future”. A World Bank team had visited the Valley in February and carried a damage assessment of the September deluge. The team estimated the loss at Rs 22000 crore, revising it sharply downwards from the state government assessment of Rs 1 trillion. But while the WB has promptly approved a package, the central government has exhibited little sense of urgency to help out the state. Ten months after the floods sank Srinagar and wide swathes of North and South Kashmir and parts of Jammu, the central government has yet to agree to a rehabilitation package for the state. This is in a sharp contrast to the  centre’s response to the June 2013 floods in Uttarakhand. When floods hit Uttarakhand causing widespread devastation, centre sent a joint World Bank and Asian Development Bank team which in partnership with the state government and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery conducted a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (JRDNA) to arrive at an estimate to rebuild the state’s infrastructure and assets. The team completed its work within one week and by August 2013 the detailed findings  on the social and economic impact of the flooding  was delivered  to the state and the central government in a comprehensive report. What is more, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank  agreed to provide  400 million dollar for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the disaster-hit areas.

 But in case of Kashmir, not only did centre not allow a prompt assessment of the loss by an international agency like World Bank to help the state government make a more persuasive case for the aid, the Modi-led government shows all the signs of walking away from its responsibility to the state. The quantum of relief disbursed to the flood-hit so far is peanuts. Out of the Rs 1000 crore and Rs 745 crore released by prime minister Narendra Modi in the first month of the flood, about Rs 161.27 crore have been released in respect of 171985 damaged structures besides an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh per fully damaged pucca house and Rs 0.50 lakh per fully damaged kucha house. Considering the catastrophic nature of the deluge that visited Valley, this relief makes little difference. And every day of the further delay detracts from the urgency of the flood rehabilitation in the state, a state of affairs that is evident from the centre’s rank unconcern about the state. One can only hope that things change for the better. A parliamentary panel which was on a three day visit to the state has made some right noises, with its leader Hukum Singh promising that every “justifiable demand” of the state government on the flood rehabilitation will be met. Let us hope this doesn’t prove yet another false assurance.   

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