One hopes that the World Bank report delivers the objective assessment that New Delhi wants
Five months after the devastating flood drowned Srinagar and deluged parts of South and North Kashmir, besides the places in Jammu, the World Bank has begun a loss assessment in the state. Saurabh Dhani, the bank’s Disaster Management Specialist told this paper that the assessment will cover all sectors including housing, public infrastructure, industry etc. Dhani, who leads a 20 member team, said the report will be prepared in consultation with the state government. The draft report would be submitted to Government of India following which deliberations would be held between the Centre and the World Bank authorities to finalize the financial assistance to state Government. There is every reason to welcome the development. One only wishes it had been done before. This would have given the state and the central government an objective assessment of the loss immediately after the catastrophe, which in turn could have been built upon for a timely rehabilitation effort. Just as it was done in case of Jharkhund where following flash floods in June 2013, a joint World Bank and Asian Development Bank team in partnership with the state government and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery conducted a rapid damage and needs assessment at the request of the Union government to rebuild infrastructure and assets lost to the natural disaster. The team completed its work within a week and by August 2013, the detailed findings on the social and economic impact of the flooding was delivered to the state and the Central government in a comprehensive report. What is more, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank agreed to provide $400 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the disaster-hit areas. But in case of J&K, the damage assessment was left to the state government and when it did its job against all odds, pegging the loss at Rs 1 lakh crore and seeking a package of Rs 44,000 crore from the Centre to kickstart the reconstruction and rehabilitation work, the Centre has yet to respond. One of the reasons for the delay, it is said, is the Centre’s reluctance to trust the loss assessment done by the state government. One hopes that the World Bank report delivers the objective assessment that New Delhi wants and this clears the decks for the grant of a substantial package to the state to kickstart the long delayed reconstruction effort.