Kashmir Floods: People not warned in advance, says SC panel


SRINAGAR — A panel appointed by the Supreme Court to assess the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir following last month’s devastating floods has pointed out that no effective steps were taken to warn the people in vulnerable areas of Srinagar about the fast-approaching floods. It also said that the free ration, meant for flood-hit people, was distributed in the non-affected areas.

On September 24, the Apex Court had appointed a five-member committee headed by the Senior Registrar of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to ascertain the ground situation in the State, post floods.

The panel—comprising a representative of the Government of India, the Secretary Revenue Department (JK), the President of Kashmir and Jammu High Court Bar Associations—submitted its interim report in the Apex Court on Friday. However, Secretary Revenue Vinod Koul has reportedly declined to sign the report for unknown reasons.

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The petitions in the Apex Court were filed by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves and advocate Vasundhra Pathak Masoodi.

According to the report, “No effective steps were taken to warn people residing in vulnerable areas of the city about the fast approaching floods and to evacuate them.”

“People remained stranded there for days together without food, drinking water and waiting for rescue which is being elusive,” it adds.

The report, quoting flood survivors, has also questioned the government’s claims about the distribution of free ration in the affected areas. “The government claims that it has supplied free ration to the flood-affected families but the common refrain in the flood-affected areas of the city is that people in these areas did not get any relief from the government,” the report states.

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The report has made a shocking disclosure that the free ration was even “distributed in the non-affected areas.”
“It has been brought to notice of some members including the Convener (of the panel) that free ration etc has been distributed to the areas and to the persons who are not at all affected by the floods, in whatever way, by some vested interests,” the report reads, adding that volunteers stated before the panel that community kitchens (langars) are being run with ration donated by locals.

“There is nothing for us to disbelieve the assertion of the large number of people in these areas who were randomly chosen by us,” the panel report reads.

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