The Bold Voice of J&K

Flood waters recede, lakhs still wait for help, anger mounts

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floodSRINAGAR: Flood waters started receding in Kashmir Valley today giving a chance to civil and military rescue teams to reach lakhs of stranded people but anger mounted over the pace of relief efforts and concerns grew over potential spread of water-borne diseases.
Rescuers evacuated another 32,500 people to safety taking to 80,000 the number of people pulled out in a continuing multi-agency mammoth operation even as an estimated five to six lakh people still waited for help after floods ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.
Officials said the death toll in the floods stated to be the worst in 109 years after heavy rains pummeled the State on 2nd September has crossed 225.
Hectic efforts were also underway to gradually restore the snapped telecom links which had hampered rescue work.
As the State Government came under criticism over its handling of relief work, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he understood people’s anger.
An NDRF jawan was attacked by angry locals  here while few other personnel of the force were heckled while they were rendering relief and rescue operations in the flood-hit areas.
Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was also heckled when he went to visit a relief camp in Humama here yesterday amid shouts of “go back” by angry protesters.
Omar described the flood situation as a “serious humanitarian crisis” but rejected criticism his government was not doing enough.
“We have really been overwhelmed. We have been overwhelmed by the scale of the problem,” he said.
“I understand their anger and I don’t grudge them on that anger. They have gone through an extremely difficult time,” he said, as hundreds of locals gave vent to their anger complaining they were not getting any relief material like food, medicines or blankets.
Meena Ahmed, a flood victim residing in Qayoom Colony in Rawalpora, wept unconsolably begging for urgent relief.
“We want food and water urgently. Please give us,” she said.
Omar said the main source of worry for him was the likely spread of diseases after water level in flood-hit areas recedes. “Water levels are receding faster than I expected.”
He said hours before the onset of heavy rains warnings were issued from mosques and police stations that people should move to higher locations but they were largely ignored.
In general, the water level was receding but areas downstream of Jhelum River are experiencing increase in water levels, PRO, Defence, Col G.D Goswami said in Jammu.
“In Srinagar town there is a decrease in water level by 3 to 4 feet since the beginning of the floods, whereas there is a rise of 6 inches in Wuller Lake,” he said.
Srinagar town remained the most critical part of flood relief efforts today. Areas of Rajbag, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bag and Shivpora where the bulk of the stranded people are located saw a step up in evacuation efforts. Dozens of boats were also pressed into service while food packets were dropped from air.
A total of 79 transport aircraft and helicopters of IAF and Army Aviation Corps were carrying out non-stop rescue and relief operations while army has deployed one lakh troops.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams also scaled up their rescue efforts.

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