PROMISED SKY, GIVEN PEANUTS

The State—which suffered losses in 2014 aggregating twice its gross domestic product in the worst-ever floods in around a century—was promised the zenith, but ended up getting zilch.
PROMISED SKY, GIVEN PEANUTS
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If you thought Jammu and Kashmir is a pampered state, you thought wrong.

The State—which suffered losses in 2014 aggregating twice its gross domestic product in the worst-ever floods in around a century—was promised the zenith, but ended up getting zilch.

The State as per initial estimates (both official and unofficial) suffered a whopping Rs 1 lakh crore loss to its social and economic infrastructure both in public and private sectors.

One year after, Jammu and Kashmir has "received"—as per the figures dished out by the central government—a total of Rs 5039 crore. But the entire amount, according to official sources, wasn't for the relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

Of the total Rs 5,039 crore, Rs 1,000 crore was the Additional Special Plan Assistance, which was strictly meant for restoration of damaged public infrastructure, Rs 838 crore to meet the pending liabilities of the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Plan 2014, Rs 172 crore for the tourism sector; Rs 47 crore for repair of damaged roads, and Rs 175 crore for damaged medical equipment. Thus, around half of this amount (Rs 2,232 crore to be precise), had nothing to do with the relief and rehabilitation of the flood affected people.

Hold on. The central government deducted Rs 500 crore from the SDRF to settle the bill of Defence Ministry on account of relief and rescue operations undertaken by the Army and Air Force during the flood in the state.

The Centre diverted Rs 500 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund to the Defence Ministry, the sources said.

Here is more. According to sources, the amount under SDRF was not actually released by the Centre post-floods. "This was an amount which had accumulated in this account over some time. The Centre only allowed the State to utilize this amount," they said.

THE MESS

According to experts, there is so much fluidity in the figures furnished by the State and the Centre on different occasions, and so much overlapping in the agencies entrusted to deal with post-flood relief and rehabilitation, that a common man cannot help muddling.

"There is a mess. No agency knows its role. While officially it is the Relief and Rehabilitation department that is in-charge of handling the overall relief and rehabilitation, on the ground the position is that its role has been confined only to deal with petty amounts," sources said.

According to sources, this agency spent just Rs 30 crore in 2015-16 so far. Interestingly, not a single rupee of this Rs 30 crore was disbursed in Jammu or Kashmir. "The amount was disbursed in Leh (Rs 20 crore) and in Kargil (Rs 10 crore)," a senior government official said.

Sources in the Planning department said it received Rs 1,000 crore as special plan assistance. "It was strictly meant for restoration of damaged public infrastructure in the State and not a penny was spent out of this amount on the relief or rehabilitation of the flood-hit people," a senior official in the Planning department said.

When asked about the funds received under PM Relief Fund PMRP, he said: "We don't have any information about that. This may be taken care of by the Revenue department."

A senior official of the Revenue department said: "The entire job has been handed over to Relief and Rehabilitation department. Our role is nowhere."

When asked about the funds being received under PM Relief Fund, he said: "May be that is being taken care of by CM's secretariat itself."

And what does the position at the treasuries, the dispensers of the cash, show?

According to sources from September 2014 till ending March 2015, the treasuries in Kashmir division (excluding civil secretariat treasury) disbursed only Rs 334.7 crore on account of relief, rehabilitation and restoration of public infrastructure.

From April 1, 2015 to July 31, 2015, the treasuries disbursed just Rs 57 crore on this count in Kashmir, sources revealed.

According to sources the state has so far disbursed Rs 350 crore out of Chief Minister's Relief Fund. "Most of this amount has been given to the flood affected traders," they said.

According to experts, the amount received under SPA cannot in real sense be clubbed with relief or rehabilitation. "You cannot bracket the special plan assistance, which is sometimes given to the special category states, as relief or rehabilitation fund," they said.

WHAT WAS THE LOSS?

According to experts not a single comprehensive survey was conducted by the state to reach to the exact figure of the loss.

"All that was done was in a haphazard manner. Some figures were cobbled up from here and there without making a serious effort to find out the precise loss details," they said.

Interestingly, a Civil Society group—Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS)—for the first time came up with preliminary loss figures in the post-flood period.

The group maintained that state suffered a massive Rs 1 trillion loss. In its sector-wise break-up, it said: "Flood damaged 3 lakh houses. At an average cost of 1 million rupees per house, the loss is around Rs 30,000 crore."

About the business losses, it said that around 1,00,000 shops and commercial establishments were affected by the floods incurring an cumulative loss of Rs 25,000 crore.

About agriculture it said the total crop land is 4.76 lakh hectare, 95,000 hectare or 20 per cent of the total area with standing crops were affected. Total loss was pegged at Rs 2,000 crore.

The loss to the livestock, fisheries and floriculture was pegged at Rs 500 crore, while the loss to the forests was put at Rs 1000 crore. The loss to the horticulture was put at Rs 1,000 crore on the premise that of the total 3.5 lakh hectare, 52,500 hectare or 15 per cent of the land was affected.

The loss to other sectors like transport was pegged at Rs 500 crore, public infrastructure Rs 25,000 crore, tourism Rs 10,000 crore, and miscellaneous losses were Rs 5000 crore.

OFFICIAL ENDORSEMENT:

Following the release of the figures by the KCSDS, the government almost endorsed it.

The then chief secretary, Muhammad Iqbal Khanday, in a press conference on September 29, 2014 said that the state suffered losses of Rs 1 trillion in the floods and 12.5 lakh families were affected.

According to preliminary estimates, the ex-CS said, the housing sector suffered losses over Rs 30,000 crore while business sector incurred losses worth over Rs 70,000 crores.

Maintaining that State had never witnessed such a disaster before, he said this (flood) was not a disaster of national but international ramifications. "The State has never recorded such flood level in the past".

He said as per the initial assessment reports on the damages to the private property, a total of 3,53,864 structures have been damaged.

The state maintained that "83,044 pucca houses were fully damaged and 96,089 partially damaged. 21,162 kachha houses were fully damaged and 54264 partially damaged. Besides, 99,305 huts, cowsheds, were also damaged".  Later, the state classified the damage to the private infrastructure into three categories: Partially damaged; severely damaged; and fully damaged. Many of those houses which were earlier included in the category of fully damaged, were later termed as "liveable" and included in "severely damaged" category.

According to official figures dished out at the press conference, 12.5 lakh families were affected by flood across the state.

It was said that 5642 villages were affected by the flood across the State with 2489 in Kashmir and 3153 in Jammu division. "At least 800 villages remained submerged for over two weeks".

Referring to the damage caused to roads and bridges, the Chief Secretary had said, "Over 550 bridges/culverts were damaged. Besides, 6000 km road network was also damaged by the flood water".

WORLD BANK RUBBISHED STATE'S 

LOSS FIGURES

In April 2015, when the flood waters had flown down the Jhelum, a World Bank team in the state rubbished government loss estimates.

The multilateral financial institution put the estimated losses at Rs 21,000 crore.  It said Jammu and Kashmir suffered losses worth Rs 211,975 million (Rs 21,197.5 crore) due to the devastating flood in September last year.

Post-floods, a joint team led by Union Finance Ministry officials and comprising representatives from the WB and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) visited the State on October 21, 2014 to assess the situation. Later, a mission of the WB visited the affected areas of the State between February 1-6 this year to carry out a multi-sectoral assessment of damages and needs.

The WB team, according to sources, concluded: "Housing, livelihoods, and roads and bridges, have suffered 70 percent damage in terms of value."

It pointed out that public service infrastructure and equipment of hospitals and education centers were severely damaged.

STATE'S PROPOSAL TO CENTRE

The previous dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir submitted a proposal to the central government seeking Rs 44,000 crore relief and rehabilitation package for flood affected people.

According to sources the present government, although publicly differed with this proposal terming it to have been estimated on the higher side, "secretly made some efforts to pursue that package but every time they were disappointed."

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