It can not go any more wrong for the people of Jammu and Kashmir than the present disaster which in a week’s time has shown how badly prepared the administration and the civil society has been as hundreds of people have lost their lives, and there has been massive destruction. While the situation is still grim in Kashmir valley, the waters have slightly receded in Jammu and the weather is likely to improve in the coming days. The time now is to ensure that the biggest relief and rescue operation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is carried out to offset the disaster carried out by one of the worst incidents of flooding in the state.
Also the need of the hour is to make accountable the officialdom, and bureaucracy which was given the charge of preparing a disaster management plan, and executing it on the ground. Indian bureaucracy is paid like kings, and pampered like the royalty with the expectation that they would formulate the best policies, and honestly execute them on the ground. The current situation is nothing but a man-made disaster which is being faced by the people, particularly the poor and weaker sections living in hilly areas, farflung villages where the state normally does not exist, and in the present circumstances has almost vanished. Had it not been the Indian army and air-force, along with Jammu and Kashmir police the death toll and destruction would have been much higher. The big question is why has the civil administration almost failed in every department during this disaster, and will it be made accountable in the coming months.
Almost 2000 crore has been made available immediately for disaster relief, and as per the past experience, the bureaucracy and the red-tape which is invisible now will come out with full force once the situation comes to normalcy. Everyone from the peon to the top official would be ready to take stock of the situation, and to dole out the flood relief which invariably will be siphoned off to relay the marble and wooden floorings in the houses of the government officials while the poor farmers in Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, Kulgam, and Srinagar keep waiting for the government to dleiver at least something for them to sustain their lives. Livestock has been lost, people have lost families, homes, and business and they would be hoping that the government would help them in rebuilding in their lives. There is no doubt that the intent of the Modi government is very clear that they want to help the people of the state in this hour of disaster but the need is also to ensure that relief measures reach the common man. It has been a past experience that whenever a tragedy has struck the state, or any other part of the country the middlemen, the brokers, bureaucracy have taken the maximum advantage causing untold miseries to the people who suffer during the disaster, and also in it’s aftermath.
The havoc has also given Chief Minister Omar Abdullah a chance to redeem himself in this dark hour as he could play an important and active role in ensuring that timely and adequate relief reaches the poor, and the suffering aam janta. He could tighten the screws on the revenue department, and ensure that no one is deprived of relief for want of documents, papers, and routine objections which are used by clerical staff to deny them of their rights. The CM also needs to come down heavily on officials who allowed illegal construction, and encroachment of nullahs, wetlands, and natural water channels which have resulted in flooding of the cities. This disaster could be a test for the young Abdullah who could either get transformed into a leader of the people from merely being a politician, or he could also prove to be a monumental disaster for the state.