Valley Unites to Reject Deputy CM Offer of Rs 3600 cr for Flood Relief
Devastating floods ravaged the state of Jammu and Kashmir last year
SRINAGAR: Senior BJP leader and deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh sparked a political storm in the state Monday with his remarks that Rs 3600 crores is "sufficient" to rehabilitate the flood-hit people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP's coalition partner, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the opposition National Conference (NC) and the Congress condemned the remarks while the CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami sought setting up of an independent body to assess the losses caused by the flood.
In an interview with a local daily, Singh had dismissed the Rs 44000 crore financial package sought from the Centre by the previous NC-Congress government as an exercise in hurry.
"The previous government had submitted the figures without doing any ground work. It was just an announcement before polls. This government has now revised the figures and it (figure) is now on lower side," Singh said in the interview.
Singh claimed that the state just needs additional Rs 1500 crores for rehabilitation of flood victims. "Out of this amount, central government will be giving us Rs 1000 crores and Rs 500 crores will be borne by the State itself," he said.
Questioning Singh's wisdom, Congress's Salman Soz wondered if the previous government's figure was wrong, how did the deputy CM arrive at Rs 3600 crores figure, "What expertise does he have and what methodology has he used? Can he explain why Uttarakhand received more than Rs 8000 crores for floods that were far smaller in scope than Kashmir floods. Nirmal Singh should keep Rs 3600 crore with Modi ji (sic). J&K's flood-affected people will struggle on without the BJP's pittance," Salman said in a statement.
In an attempt to douse the flames, the deputy Chief Minister issued a statement late on Monday, claiming that he was quoted out of context, "I never quoted the figure of Rs 3600 crore as final settlement for flood relief. I said another instalment of Rs 1500 crore as flood relief is being released,” Singh said.
He, however, didn't explain the "revised figures" worked out by the government on the scale of losses and compensation sought from the Centre.
Singh's remarks didn't go down well with the the PDP too, which is heading the government. His cabinet colleague and the J&K's R&B minister, Altaf Bukhari, said the PDP has joined hands with BJP to give the J&K a new direction under the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
"Mufti saheb's vision is to bring people closer by bridging regional gaps within the state. Instead of adhering to Mufti saheb’s vision of togetherness and equal opportunities, it seems our fellow colleagues are bogged down on issues of derived importance," Bukhari, one of the richest politicians in the state, said.
Speaking on an event to mark the 100-days of the coalition government, Bukhari said the remarks of deputy chief minister have shocked him.
"Even Rs 44000 crore package is in no way sufficient to compensate the losses suffered by the people. Nirmal Ji’s figures have shocked me not only as a minister but as a flood victim who has personally witnessed the scale of devastation during September floods. I don’t know from where he got these superficial statistics,” he said.
Bukhari said the cabinet ministers must desist from making "irresponsible" statements, "Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s endeavour is to address the legacy of loss which is coupled with a sense of alienation due to decades of neglect, lack of development, empowerment and employment in all the three regions of the state."
"Government cannot give 100 percent compensation to everyone. It is not possible anywhere for any government to compensate fully the affected people. Relief and compensation is meant to ensure that the affected person again resumes his or her normal lives," Singh had said in the interview.
According to independent estimates, more than 4.5 lakh people were affected by last year's flood, recorded as the worst in a century, with the public and private infrastructure worth Rs one lakh crore washed away.
Although nine months have passed since the floods and more than three months since the new government assumed office, only Rs 2100 crores have been released for flood rehabilitation by the Centre.
The World Bank recently granted a loan of USD 250 million to the state which will be used in building flood-control infrastructure.