SRINAGAR: Anger is mounting in Jammu and Kashmir as relief and rehabilitation that has to be taken up as a mammoth task has still not taken off, with the state government proving unequal to the task.

Something as basic as dewatering pumps are not available with just a few in operation. The result is that the water in most localities, while having receded to ankle levels, is stagnant with the Kashmiris unable to return to their homes and localities. Fear of epidemics is growing with health facilities remaining abysmal because of governmental indifference.

Local newspapers have started functioning and are carrying extensive stories reflecting the plight of the people in the face of neglect and apathy.

An editorial in Kashmir Images written by editor Bashir Manzar gives an insight into the people’s anger and helplessness:

“The state’s administrative machinery is dismally failing to come to the expectations of the people in flood-affected Srinagar and other areas. With the rescue mission accomplished, courtesy local volunteers, army, IAF and NDFR, the affected people are now waiting for rehabilitation efforts. However, the state administration is failing them and failing miserably.

Several Srinagar areas continue to remain under water while the three dewatering pumps, which the Centre pumped into the service with pomp and show, remain busy in BB Cantonment and the civil secretariat. People of Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Bemina, HMT and several other areas are angry as they were expecting that the officials would start dewatering once the pumps reached Srinagar. Nothing of the sort has been done and people are alleging that this all is being done under political influence. They allege that during rescue operations, the state government was absent from the scene and justified its absence saying most of the ministers, officers and administrators including police were under water and thus in no position to rescue others. However, now that the water level has receded, the administrations still remains absent. This absence is furthering the anger of victims who have started expressing apprehensions about the rehabilitation and relief mission.

Having no faith in the system and the administration, people are not sure that any kind of relief, from the government side, would reach deserving people. Given past practice, people are apprehensive that ministers and MLAs would prioritize their own near and dear ones and the officers will follow suit. There are already complaints pouring in that the political representatives have started pitching for their respective vote bank areas, not understanding that it is a national disaster that needs an approach beyond constituency specific politics. Need of the hour is that government ensures that the relief efforts are result oriented and based on merit. For that the involvement of locals would help to keep the corrupt and black-sheep out. In Srinagar every locality (Mohalla) has its Masjid Committee. These committees comprise of respectable representatives of the particular area. The government should ensure the involvement of these committee members to, one, get an accurate assessment of the loss as the committee members are the ones who know each and every household of their area. And secondly because the committee members can collectively ensure that the deserving get the benefits of the relief efforts. If the process is left to Ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats alone, the deserving may never be heard.”