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Kashmir flood victims pin hope on Modi’s Diwali visit

Thousands of people rendered homeless by the deluge in Jammu and Kashmir last month are pinning their hopes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Diwali visit to the Valley, expecting him to announce a substantial package that can help them rebuild their homes before the onset of winter.

“We are hopeful that the Prime Minister, who has decided to spend Diwali in Srinagar, will announce a good package for the flood victims so that we can start picking up the threads of life again,” Ghulam Ahmad, who is putting up with his family in a tent at Batamaloo said.

Mr. Ahmad is one of the over 1 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir whose dwellings were destroyed by the century’s worst ever floods in the State.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday tweeted that he would >spend Diwali in flood-hit Srinagar on Thursday.

“Will be in Srinagar on Diwali, 23d October & will spend the day with our sisters & brothers affected by the unfortunate floods,” Mr. Modi tweeted. This will be his fourth visit to Jammu and Kashmir since taking charge as the Prime Minister in May.





Many flood victims feel that Mr. Modi’s visit will not be just symbolic and the Prime Minister will announce a comprehensive plan so that the State and its people are able to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the floods.

“I do not think it will only a symbolic visit. He will be spending the Diwali in Kashmir and expectations are high that he will come with a big gift,” Mushtaq Ahmad, another flood victim, said.

According to official figures, the floods destroyed 1.04 lakh houses across the State while over 1.5 lakh houses suffered partial damage due to the natural calamity.

Official figures put the number of people living in tents at less than 1 lakh. However, the number of homeless in Kashmir is believed to be close to 6 lakh as most of them are putting up with relatives, friends or in rented accommodation.

The State government has submitted to the Centre a memorandum of losses due to floods to the tune of Rs. 44,000 crore. A major chunk of the package pertains to compensation in respect of the houses destroyed or damaged in the floods.

According to the proposal, which was approved in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the second week of October, the State government has sought a payment of ex-gratia relief against the loss of private structures to the tune of Rs. 9 lakh for fully damaged pucca house, Rs. six Lakh for fully damaged kucha house, Rs. 4 Lakh for partially damaged kucha and pucca houses and Rs. 1 lakh for other structures.

It has also sought housing loans up to Rs. 20 lakh at 4 per cent interest only for those affected families whose houses are fully damaged.

A major worry for the flood victims is the onset of winter as they are left with less than a month of working season in Kashmir.

“If the homeless people are not able to start construction within a week, they will have to wait till April next year as the concrete does not set in well during sub-zero temperatures,” Abdul Gaffar, a mason, said.

The government has plans to procure prefabricated structures for housing the homeless people during winter. In the first phase, 500 prefabricated huts will be procured.

The weather has so far been kind to the flood victims as the day temperatures are hovering around 20°C, which is only 1 degree below the normal for this time of the year while the minimum temperature on Monday night was 7°C — 2 degrees above normal.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 9:09:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jammu-and-kashmir-flood-victims-pin-hope-on-modis-diwali-visit-to-srinagar/article6523508.ece

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