Centre To Carry Out Its Own Assessment Of J&K Losses

16 October 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Government of India has decided to undertake an extensive study of devastation caused by last month's floods by sending two high level teams comprising top officials of different departments separately to Jammu and Kashmir regions on three days assessment tour, beginning tomorrow. M Gopal Reddy, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be Team leader of both the Committees. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Union Government has decided to carry out its own assessment of damages caused to public property and Government infrastructure after a memo submitted to the Centre by the State Government seeking an unprecedented Rs 44,000 crores worth package for relief and rehabilitation measures for flood victims and infrastructure. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has constituted two teams of top level officers of different Central Departments, which would undertake three days visit to Jammu and Kashmir regions separately and submit report to the MHA suggesting measures required to rebuild parts of Jammu and Kashmir, which were devastated by the worst ever floods in first week of September this year. One of the Committee constituted for Jammu region would reach here on October 17 and visit Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts on first day. On October 18, the Committee will tour Rajouri and Poonch districts while on October 19, it will visit Reasi and Ramban districts. The Committee constituted for Kashmir region will visit Anantnag, Pulwama and Kulgam districts on October 17, Bandipora on October 18 and Srinagar district on October 19. The team for Jammu comprised Brek Tripathi, Director Monitoring in Central Works Commission, Narendra Kumar, Assistant Director and Aditya Prakash, Superintending Engineer in the same Commission, AK Rajput, Director, Central Electricity Board, Ministry of Power, BL Meena, Assistant Director, Expenditure Monitoring in Ministry of Finance and Prakash Bhardwaj, Under Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. The Committee constituted for Kashmir region will have a high level meeting with Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, Principal and Commissioner Secretaries, Divisional Commissioner and equivalent officers to take their assessment of the situation and modus operandi adopted by them in working out losses to the tune of Rs 44,000 crores, which have been sought from the Centre for relief and rehabilitation measures. Initially, the Government had worked out the losses to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crores. The Committees comprised top ranking officers of Ministries of Home, Animal Husbandry, Health, Finance, Rural Development, Agriculture and Road and Surface Transport. All these sectors have been badly affected by the floods. There will be two top officers of these Ministries in the Committee-one each in separate Panel constituted for Jammu and Kashmir region. Sources said the Committee in its meeting with top bureaucrats of the State Government would take their assessment of the situation including damage caused to civilian property and Government infrastructure and ways and means used by them in calculating the damages apart from number of civilians killed, injured and missing in the floods. The Committees would also have extensive meetings with Deputy Commissioners (District Development Commissioners) of the districts, which have suffered damage in the floods to know intensity of damage and losses projected by them. In fact, the Committees would hold separate meetings with all Deputy Commissioners of the districts they will visit during three days tour of Jammu and Kashmir region. Describing Rs 44,000 crores worth package sought by the State Government in its memo sent to the Centre, sources said it was nearly six times the current annual plan of Rs 7300 crores sought by the State for current financial year of 2014-15 and was unprecedented. 'The projections have raised question mark as they have been calculated in less than a month's time,' sources said, adding it was in this context that the Centre has constituted two high level teams to carry out its own assessment of losses caused by the floods in terms of public property and Government infrastructure before taking a decision on how to compensate the people and the Government to rebuild damaged areas. The Committee will submit its extensive report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who would then decide on steps required to compensate the State, help the people, whose property has been lost and rebuild infrastructure. It may be mentioned here that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had already announced Rs 1000 crores worth package for Jammu and Kashmir while the MHA had allowed the State to use entire amount of Rs 1100 crores worth State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF). In addition, Road and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has approved Rs 200 crores worth package and Tourism Ministry Rs 100 crores for the State totaling Rs 2400 crores.