Collective Response Missing On Flood Relief Measures

5 October 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: With countless truckloads of relief material reaching the Kashmir valley daily from all over the country and with relief still not reaching all flood-affected people, there has to be something terribly wrong somewhere. The whole nation has stood by the flood-affected people in the Valley - the roads leading to Kashmir are clogged with trucks carrying relief material from rice to blankets, baby food and utensils. The tin sheets are also on way to set up shelters for the victims ahead of the dreaded winter in Kashmir. The nation's mood reflects a strong feeling of being one with the people who have lost their homes and valued possessions to floods. The Central government, non-governmental organisations and others have joined hands in reaching out to the people in distress in Kashmir. The pain of the flood-hit people in Kashmir was felt from north to south and east to west in the country. More than the media, they were told about the suffering of the masses in Kashmir by tourists trapped in floodwaters in the second week of September. Those were the days when Kashmir turned into a vast lake. There was complete hopelessness and gloom all around. The tourists and migrant labourers were rescued by local youth and the men in uniform. Why is all the relief not reaching the flood-affected people in Kashmir? This is an unanswered question. One would agree with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that there is no example of the perfect relief distribution anywhere in the world. The magnitude of the tragedy is immeasurable. So there are bound to be some discrepancies. That being that. Now, when the flood devastation is entering its second month - if September 7 is taken as the cut-off date, though the floods had started ravaging south Kashmir much earlier - the system should have stabilised by this time. And, there should have been less complaints of the irregular or unfair distribution of relief. Instead, there are more protests and complaints. It is true that the Chief Minister cannot be everywhere all the time. But what he could have done and what was expected of a leader in crisis is that he should have taken to task those who had failed him in the government. The accountability of the system was never a strong point of any government in the state. During the past few years, institutions have collapsed. There has been enormous erosion in the institutions and they have been politicized to the extent that they are fast losing faith of the people. Not listening to sane voices and dismissing all criticism as motivated proves counterproductive. This is what happened during the floods. Even now, the time for all the parties, particularly those in the government, is to stop politicking. Instead of suggesting alternative nature of packages that should come from the Centre, they could have channelled their energies in adopting a collective approach towards providing succour to the people. There are difficulties but this is the time to overcome the hurdles and get everyone on board.