Governor Satya Pal Malik presented a frightening picture about the corruption in Jammu and Kashmir on July 21 . His litany of corruption cases and the men and women involved were lost in his radical suggestion to the militants how to do away with the corrupt in the state. The import of his remarks was under swept by the controversy that his remarks triggered , but there is one glaring truth that cannot be ignored any cost.
The harrowing memory of the 2014 floods that had devastated Srinagar city and parts of the Valley is still fresh in the minds of the victims, but the corrective steps have not been taken and Kashmir can be face to face with floods any time . There is no guarantee that the feared floods would be less devastating than the nightmare of five years ago. This is the scene because the men who were supposed to do all this were preoccupied with their self-interests and a struggle to win the political battles than focusing on the priorities that would make Kashmir safe and secure from the natural disasters .
Governor mentioned three things that he ordered should be done on the day he took over as head of the state – that time the state was under Governor’s rule and he had all the executive and legislative powers – ( 1) the dredging of Jhelum river and increasing the depth of Wullar lake so that there was no push back of the waters into the river that had flooded Srinagar in 2014, ( ii) construction of a flood channel to divert the waters from the river in the times of heavy rains ( 3) de-weeding and cleansing of Dal lake .
At the end of one year, he had nothing but regrets to offer , as he said “ I have not succeeded doing anything on these fronts.” Why? He asked and answered himself, because the corruption was at its peak and the bureaucrats would not allow the tenders to be floated as long as they were occupying the high chairs. This caused a lot of frustration and he could not contain himself from giving vent to his frustration and anger.
The point to be noted here is that the Governor Malik is not a state subject. He is from Uttar Pradesh and sent for an assignment in J&K. If he was talking of saving the summer capital city of Srinagar and other arts of the Valley from the recurrence of the floods of the 2014 magnitude, he was talking about the local population .And, when his orders were not complied with, this was a breach of discipline by the bureaucrats who were having their own interests to further in stalling anti-flood measures. It would not have benefited him , but the people who were facing the threat of the floods. That point was ignored.
The September , 2014 is a date etched in the minds of the people in Kashmir when they came face to face with doomsday. It was a doomsday scenario with the waters flooding everything, with intense search for the near and dear ones getting frustrated in absence of the requisite facilities and equipment . The city could not be saved .Fire fighting had to be done, and it was done. The youth of Kashmir lived up to their reputation of taking risks to save the lives of many who were marooned and had lost hope . They toiled day and night, rescued hundreds of the people and assisted them in the best possible manner . The Indian army and Air Force were also there to rescue the people who were trapped in the worst affected areas in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley. The government had collapsed , as had the telecommunication system. There was nothing that could be done, but the resolve also was missing .
Surprisingly, there were political expediencies and the PDP mounted pressure on the GoI and Election Commission to hold the Assembly polls. The argument was that the continuation of the National Conference government would neglect the flood victims . The Election Commission made its own assessment and declared the elections much against the logic of the government that the people were busy in retrieving and reconstructing their lives, hence the polls be deferred. The Election Commission of the day worked the way it did and polls were held – the consequence that there was a fractured mandate and the political parties could not form the government for more than two months after the results were declared . And when the government was formed the priority was given to the political oneupmanship and the flood victims continued to suffer.
It calls for a white paper as to why the flood protection works could not be undertaken in the past five years and how much money has been spent on papers .