It is a wonder that we are here at all: LalChowk bustles with the same spirit and energy. Sunday market is long back to being crowded. Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Jawahar Nagar, Bemina, Maisuma, Rambaghetc have sprung back to their feet. This is despite the devastation wrought by the flood on this day last year. Despite the egregious losses left largely uncompensated. And despite the infrastructure only now recovering from an utter state of disrepair and disorder.
Same about the South, North Kashmir and the parts of Jammu where the victims deprived of even a reasonable government rehabilitation have taken the charge of their destiny and restored a degree of stability to their lives. It has been a demonstration of the 'chutzpah', here of a welcome variety, that has made us triumph over a crushing adversity. Left to fend for themselves, the victims have responded constructively to the challenge. But then the losses remain. The lives that have been set back by years will take time to rehabilitate.
More so, when you have to do it all on your own. The toll taken by the deluge was grim: According to the government estimate, the flood impacted 12.5 lakh families, damaged 3.50 lakh structures, most of them residential houses including 83,000 pucca houses and 21,162 kutcha houses and partially damaged 1.5 lakh houses. There are similarly massive losses in agriculture, horticulture and tourism. But on the first anniversary of the deluge, the Centre has yet to announce a rehabilitation package.
The current coalition government whose single-most redeeming feature was its promise to rebuild broken lives by ensuring a decent financial package from New Delhi now appears more helpless than the flood victims. The media leaks about an imminent package from the Centre have turned out to be an exercise in cry wolf.
They fool nobody now. Where else in the world does it happen that not even a reasonable reconstruction funding will come a year after an almost all-submerging flood leaves thousands of wrecked lives, damaged properties and ravaged infrastructure in its wake. Where else in the world does it happen that while a state going to polls gets a massive financial leg-up, another state long reeling from an unprecedented natural disaster goes endlessly begging.
Call it bias, neglect, discrimination or the more euphemistic delay, the truth is that the people have been left alone to face the fallout of a colossal calamity. And tragically, if any one, it is the elected state government that looks the most passive and complacent about the state of affairs. Now, there is another attempt to cry wolf over an expected package from the Centre. And we hope it finally does come true. If it doesn't, any package that comes afterwards will not be about flood rehabilitation.