5 lakh people to brave winter chill under open skies

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Oct 2: With no roof over their head, around 5 lakh flood victims of the State fear worst ahead with the approaching of winter and Government is banking solely on Central assistance as they have no money.
According to official figures 1, 04, 206 houses including 83, 044 pucca and 21, 162 kacha were destroyed in floods. A rough estimate suggests that around 5 lakh people were living in these houses and they have no roof over their head after the floods.
The figures suggest that 1, 50, 353 houses including 96,089 pucca houses and 54,264 kacha houses were partially damaged. A rough estimate suggests that around 8 lakh people’s houses need immediate repairs.
Farooq Ahmad of Jawahar Nagar whose house collapsed in the floods says there is lack of proper management and coordination between various agencies and Government is silent over the rehabilitation of the flood survivors.
“We, like hundreds of others, are sharing houses of our relatives but how long will it continue. We immediately need bricks, CGI sheets, cement and timber so that we can construct at least couple of rooms before winter sets in”, said Ahmad.
Gulzar Ahmad, resident of Rajbagh, who lives in a tent on the bank of river Jhelum says that we need strong roof over our heads and concrete four walls to keep ourselves warn during the winters when temperatures will be around freezing point. “After another 40 days, we can’t live in these tents as night temperatures will be hovering just over zero degree Celsius”, he adds.
Mushtaq Ahmad of Pandrethan, Srinagar lives with his relatives since his house collapsed early last month as Jhelum breached in the area. He is worried about winter as the family has lost their house. “We are hearing a lot about relief and rehabilitation of flood victims but the Government does not seem to be serious about providing us shelter before winter”, he adds.
Nazir Ahmad of Budgam, whose house also collapsed says: “By now, Government should have provided us timber, CGI sheets, bricks, cement and other building material so that we can at least construct two concrete rooms with a roof over head to brave the winter chill.”
Residents said that Government airlifted thousands of non-local labourers and construction workers during floods without thinking about re-construction after floods.
According to a Government estimate around 4-5 lakh non-local labourers and construction workers work in Kashmir during summers. “The re-construction work without them before winter is not possible, says Nazir Ahmad.
Chief Secretary, Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, when asked about Government’s plan regarding shelters ahead of winter, said that State Government is preparing a memorandum for liberal Central assistance to the State. “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has written a letter to the Union Government, requesting a special package for the rehabilitation of the flood affected people. We have requested Rs 5 lakh compensation for fully damaged pucca house and Rs two lakh for partially damaged pucca houses,” he said.

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