Year on,windstorm victims await relief


Srinagar, Mar 17: From north Kashmir’s isolated Ayhtmulla village in district Bandipora to hilly Damhal in south Kashmir, the victims of a ravaging windstorm, that struck Kashmir Valley in March last year killing four persons and damaging over 15000 buildings, are still awaiting relief.
 Following the windstorm last year, Greater Kashmir, after thoroughly studying the extent of loss, reported over the government’s neglect to provide relief to the victims. And now that a year has passed, they are waiting for it even after no official has reportedly recorded the damage they have endured.
 “We have been waiting for someone to come and give us relief,” said 62-year-old Hajira of Ayhtmulla village in Bandipora. “If the relief would have been given, we would have repaired it,” she said, pointing to a one-storey house whose roof and walls were collapsed. “Now we live in the shed.”
 In north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, at least 3500 structures including 1731 residential houses were damaged in the windstorm. In Khenusa and Mantrigam villages, two government school buildings had also got damaged. Ironically, the buildings are yet to be repaired.
 Magistrate Sonawari Zaffar Ahmed had in March 2012 told Greater Kashmir that the windstorm blew rooftops of about 300 houses in Sumbal while the 1155 residential houses had been reported as damaged.
 “We have 47 villages in Sonawari where about 1155 residential house have got damaged due to the winds while 622 non-residential structures have also suffered damage,” he had said.
 In frontier district of Kupwara, at least 500 structures including some residential houses were damaged in the windstorm. Remote areas of Karnah and Keran near Kishanganga (Neelam) River were also hit. The government is yet to assess the loss in the areas.
 In Baramulla district, 1507 residential houses were damaged, among them 22 fully and 1485 partially.
 In south Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district, at least 338 residential houses and 144 other structures were damaged. In Kulgam more than 400 houses were damaged while about eight houses collapsed. In Damhal-Hanjipora Tehsil alone at least 250 houses were damaged. “Who are we going to ask for help now?” asked a local in Damhal.  “Our houses are completely damaged. We don’t have avenues to repair them. We were expecting government would help. But we were wrong. Nobody comes to us,” said 73-year-old Abdul Ahad.
 Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon had in May 2012 told Greater Kashmir that a requisition of Rs 11 crore was sent to the Revenue Ministry. After almost five months, the Ministry claimed to have released Rs 5 crore for the victims.
 Official sources said 60 percent of the relief money is yet to be released by the Ministry. “Basically the amount released by the Ministry was just Rs 4.8 crores, just 35 percent of the total damage recorded,” an official said. “Almost 60 percent of the victims are yet to get relief,” he said.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST

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