Valley floods a manmade disaster

BJP demands commission of inquiry by SC judge: Farooq Khan

Claiming that the recent unprecedented floods in Kashmir valley, particularly in Srinagar city, could have been prevented, BJP State Spokesperson & Senior leader Farooq khan said that the floods which caused unprecedented destruction in Srinagar city was the result of a “manmade disaster” as has been confirmed by flood control experts, including senior retired engineers.

Addressing media persons at party headquarters, alongwith other leaders, Khan said that it was because of vested interests that three state government departments, ERA, Supervised by CM directly, R&B headed by Abdul Majid Wani as Minister and flood Control department working under Irrigation & Flood Control Minister Sham Lal Sharma, for the reasons best known to them decided to partially block the flood channel in Srinagar city at Mehjoor Nagar by constructing a road across it as a part of road diversion, thereby causing a back flow of flood waters which were flowing through flood channel. As per expert opinion, this road cum dam caused more than 20 per cent blockade to the flood waters, creating a back flow, which ultimately over flooded the bund near Kursoo, resulting into flooding of maximum localities of Srinagar city, with Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar being worst hit. This, coupled with delayed opening of gates of Dal compounded the flood situation. All this happened when the flood waters first noticed to cross the danger mark at Sangam took 7 hours to reach Srinagar city, thereby giving enough time to the government machinery, especially essential and emergency services, to prepare and respond to the coming danger. The state government and its machinery miserably failed to react and this led to a situation which has no parallel in the history of state with the people of Srinagar city still marooned in may localities.

In order to find the causes of this manmade disaster and to fix the responsibility an impartial “Commission of Inquiry” by a sitting or retired judge of Supreme Court has become all the more important. The issues need to be looked into are :-

a. While it is a criminal offence to cause any obstruction in the flood channel, how ERA was allowed by flood control department to construct road cum dam across the same in connivance with R&B Deptt.

b. What was the role of ministers and engineers as well as the CM in taking this criminal decision while they could have either constructed a valley bridge or boat bridge at the same spot;

c. Was 7 hours warning time not sufficient to remove this obstacle?

Meanwhile, Khan said that so far BJP had been avoiding to highlight the incompetence of the state government and was only concentrating on relief and rehabilitation measures, but it has been brought to notice by many complainants from all over the state that while the state government machinery responsible for the present miseries of the public, is mostly noticed to be absent from the scene, wherever the relief material is being distributed, the same is being done considering the political affiliations of the sufferers adopting a pick and choose policy.

Khan added that while living upto the assurance given by PM during his visit to Kashmir following floods, Govt. of India is responding to all the demands of the state government favourably, the top heavy state machinery is failing to handle the simple task of receiving and distribution of the relief material, including food supplies coming in abundance from all over India. It is a pathetic state of affairs that on one hand thousands of tones of foods grains are getting damaged at Udhampur Railway Station, on the other, a common Kashmir sufferer alongwith his co-sufferers from Jammu province are made to run from one office to another for getting the relief sanctioned and after endless visits, are provided a meager relief package of 5 kg rice, 1 kg dal and 1 litre edible oil etc, thereby virtually converting highly respectable and self respecting people of both the provinces into beggers.

The BJP warns the state government that in case it fails to set its house in order, the day would not be far when the public anger across the state would consume it.

State General Secretary Kavinder Gupta, State Spokesperson Balbir Ram Rattan, Ex-Servicemen Cell State Convenor Brig. Anil Gupta, and BJP leader S.S. Bijral were present in the press conference.