The Bold Voice of J&K

Havoc of floods, land sliding

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Dr.Banarsi Lal, Dr.Shahid Ahamad

Seri and  Dera Baba are small hamlets about 30 km away from  world famous  place Katra of Reasi District, where  about 40  houses have been  badly damaged  because of flash floods and land slide on 6th September 2014.The deadly land slide and flash floods swept away land, houses, animals, crops, household commodities etc. On that deadly day the people of this area were struggling to save their lives between Chenab River on one side and steep hills on other side. The people of this area never thought that these friendly hills and cool Chenab River will snatch away everything they are having and they were praying to God to save their lives on that deadly day. When they were moving towards the hills there was life taking land slide and when they were going towards the Chenab River, it was ready to drown away their bodies. With great efforts and blessings of God they escaped from death on that day but they lost everything in the land slide and floods. The people of this area didn’t get chance even to save their clothes to wear and all their belongings came under millions of tons of debris. They were cut from world as there was no road and no phone connectivity. They were just communicating to God at that time for their lives.
Now these villagers are living their unsettled life. Every time they look at their damaged homes they are filled with grief and remorse unable to grasp how their lives were changed within few hours. They have lost the source of employment as they have lost their lands and animals due to flash flood and land slide and also they have lost their horses/mules which were a source of income when they work at the Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra. A walk through the villages reveals the full picture with just their houses under the debris and shattered dreams that all are left behind. This story is the same in many villages of Jammu and Kashmir.
Both government and non-governmental institutions have immense task in hand to rebuild the affected villages. So far both (government and non-government) of them responded well and have done a commendable job to do the herculean task. The availability   of electricity and water is improving day by day. Road connectivity is also in progress. Drinking water has been contaminated and it has become a major cause for many water borne diseases. The clean drinking water should be provided through water lorries or distilled water bottles should be provided to the affected villages. Many NGOs should come forward to provide clean water to the affected villages. This initiative would definitely be appreciated by the affected villagers. Special medical teams should be deputed for free medical treatment of the affected people.
The poor people of these villages are badly affected by the land slides and floods. As they were having small iron sheet roofed houses close to the hill and the Chenab River, their houses were badly damaged. They are provided with temporary shelters by the government in the government schools and nearby government guest houses. Many NGOs and governmental agencies have provided them eatable commodities along with clothes, tents and stoves. As the winters are approaching fast, these people need some permanency to live in. The people are suffering with the diseases like typhoid, diahhroea, dysentery, cholera etc. as they are drinking the contaminated water. Even many of the affected areas are without electricity. So the families are spending their nights in darkness. With the approaching winters and permanent housing is still in the planning stages the inhabitants of the shelters are worried. It is the opinion of many affected people that if the government resettles them away from their damaged houses it will ensure their safety but will affect their livelihood as they are planning to clean their fields to sow the crops in future. The NGOs and the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board should also come forward in resettlement process. The villages’ leaders should be consulted to identify the suitable locations for construction of new houses. The agencies are in process to obtain the land at safer places. In farming also there is need to maintain the balance.
The land slides and floods have also badly affected the agriculture sector. Maize is the major crop for the people of hilly areas which is water sensitive and has been badly damaged due to water logging. But so far no agricultural support has been given to these people. This catastrophe really has affected the livelihood of the people. Due to land slides and water logging their land has become unfit for farming. According to these people their land was the major source of livelihood which they have lost. Now these affected family elders are also worried about the future of their children. To reclaim the lost land there is a need of compensation according to the area of damaged field   of the farmer. In order to sow the crops in coming Rabi season farmers need crop relief as soon as possible otherwise the people have to wait for next Kharif season. Their standing crops have also been damaged. So the farming sector should also be considered seriously as soon as possible. The agencies should not waste any time to mitigate the problems of the affected families. The affected people of the area have really been shattered.

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