New Delhi: PDP, the opposition party of Jammu and Kashmir, today requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take personal interest in ensuring that the lives of people of the flood-hit state are rebuilt expeditiously and give a sense of security to “demoralised” inhabitants.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti led a party delegation to Modi and presented a memorandum in which the party wants setting up of a special reconstruction group under the PM and including economists, hydrologists, flood control engineers, urban and rural development specialists and health managers.
The state could complement the effort with its own experts to make it sustainable, the memorandum said
Mehbooba later told PTI that the focus has to be on how to go about rebuilding the state and there should be personal interest of Modi who is seen as a “man of action”.
“The economic package announced by the Centre will take its own time to be implemented but it is time to show results. People of the state are demoralised. There is a sense of insecurity. The Prime Minister himself needs to give an assurance that he and his government are going to do all to rebuild the state,” she said.
Asked about the Prime Minister's response, Mehbooba said he gave an assurance that he will do whatever is possible.
The PDP memorandum, submitted by the delegation, that also included MPs Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Tariq Hameed Karra, said the central government must fully fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction plan and shall have to take “some practical and urgent measures” to address the issues of immediate concern.
In view of the fast approaching winter and that no construction is possible during that time, there is a need to provide financial assistance for construction of temporary shelter sheds, it said, adding this will help flood victims survive the winter and they can start rebuilding their dwellings in April.
It suggested that Srinagar, which was the worst-affected in the floods last month, be included in the central government's programme of developing 100 Smart Cities.
“If Srinagar is included in the Smart Cities project, for which the money has already been provided in the budget, the process of rebuilding can start instantaneously and along futuristic lines,” the PDP said.
It also pointed out that the union budget has for the current year allocated Rs 2,000 crore for urban renewal and for making cities livable with better infrastructure.
“It is evident that no city can lay a greater claim on the project than Srinagar which needs to be made livable after undergoing massive destruction during the September floods,” the memorandum said. Srinagar should be included HRIDAY (National Heritage and City Development and Augmentation Yojna) for conserving the heritage character of the city impaired by the floods, it said, adding the financial resources have been provided for this in the union budget.
It said the Calamity Relief Fund provided by the Finance Commission and recurring corpus of the state's disaster relief fund, should be treated as the state's funding support for the uninsured which is based on self-assessment and ratified by the local trade body or the bazaar committee.
As such, these funds should provide default insurance across the states for small traders and businesses uninsured assets.
In the memorandum, PDP said, “In terms of geographical areas, there is need not only to define flood-affected areas, but also flood-impacted areas. While only a few districts have been affected by floods, most others have been impacted by the ravaging floods. Both public and private assets have been damaged.
“For public assets, the resources have to come from the Union. As regard private assets, not only the personal assets and business assets, but income loss has to be compensated,” it said.
PDP said the state government has submitted Rs 4,4000 crore relief and rehabilitation plan to the Centre after a “long delay” and it will take a long time to get these funds and benefits to fructify on the ground.
It also said the Centre must fast track J&K government's partnership with the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery for conducting a joint rapid damage needs assessment.