In September 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir region suffered disastrous floods caused by heavy rainfall. Nearly 300 people died in the floods and many more lost their homes and livelihood. Mukhtar Ahmad/Rediff.com reports. Photographs: Umar Ganie
The floods will have everlasting impact and will remain deeply embedded in the memory of the Kashmiris.
The arrival of the calendars ninth month has refreshed the nightmarish devastation of 2014 floods caused to the valley, particularly it’s capital city of Srinagar which most of the Kashmiri’s perceived to be immune to the floods.
The residents of the posh areas of Srinagar living on either side of the valley’s main waterway, the Jhelum, were in for a shock as they believed that Srinagar would be saved from the fury of the floods and the rising waters would be diverted to other areas.
The complacency, however, inflicted maximum damage to the properties in these very areas even though damage to the lives fortunately remained very low.
“I never thought that the flood waters would hit our Mandirbagh area which is at a distance from the river. But to our shock, the water not only reached Mandirbagh, but beyond it and destroyed our homes and livelihood,” said Tariq, who owns a small roadside shop near Abiguzar in Srinagar.
“Our elder’s advice was to take our household items on the top floor and forget about the rest. We followed their advice, but to our shock, the floods reached the top floor destroying everything and later the house too. Fortunately our lives were saved,” Tariq told rediff.com.
“Our lives, however, changed forever as our struggle for rehabilitating ourselves began on a tough note. The government made tall promises for our rehabilitation and have delivered very little,” he added.
“Our compensation for the fully damaged house have so far materialised in Rs 1.75 lakh being paid to us; half of which we spent clearing the debris. We had to manage the finances for the rebuilding of our house which is still not complete,” said Tariq.
Javed Ahmad Bhat is not as lucky as Tariq who has yet to start reconstruction of his downtown Nawab Bazzar home. Javed, who has been living in a rented house since the past one year, is still waiting for the government’s promised relief as he doesn’t have the means to rebuild his house.
Stories like Tariq and Javed are spread all over the city including the posh areas of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Padshaibagh and Karan Nagar where people devastated by the floods are trying to rebuild their lives.
Tawheed Bazaz is yet another of Mandirbagh’s residents whose is a victim of the floods and has started rebuilding his house.
Bazaz cobbled together wooden planks lying available in the attic of his house to form a raft, and escaped the fury of floods with his family.
“It was sheer luck that my raft worked and it docked with a local bakery where we took shelter for a week,” said Tawheed.
The hurtful memories of the floods and its devastation are still fresh in the minds of the people both affected directly and indirectly and would take time to heal.
The climatic changes and other factors have made Kashmir vulnerable to floods as was seen earlier this year on three occasions when rains for just 24 hours made the authorities issue flood alerts.
No substantial measures such as desilting of river Jhelum and its flood spill channel has yet been undertaken even though the authorities had promised it immediately.
Construction of the second flood spill channel which was announced last year is yet to materialise even on paper. Given this situation, the prospect of September 2014 floods repeating itself remains fairly high.