Ensure medicine, water and food to all:SC

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure that medicine, drinking water and food reached the last man in the state by asking them not to restrict their focus on rescue and relief to Srinagar only.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice of India (CJI) R M Lodha, while noting that to survive in such circumstances was a big challenge, asked the authorities to provide proper rehabilitation to the victims.
The court also told the state government to consider providing the affected people with ex-gratia payments and mobile banking facilities.

Dealing with a bunch of petitions, including one filed by Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman said, “We expect the state government to take necessary steps for making available food, drinking water, medicines and fuel to the affected persons on top priority.”

The apex court also asked the chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to consider the suggestion for making functional the High Court for addressing people’s grievances from its guest house or from judges' residence.

During the hearing, the court reiterated that it was not treating the matter as adversarial litigation but said the type of focus the Centre has given to Srinagar did not appear to have reached other flood-affected districts like Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Baramulla and Budgam.

“The entire focus is on Srinagar. No focus is there on other districts. They are as bad as Srinagar and the condition in some other districts is worse. I don't think effort (in other districts) is like what has been done in Srinagar,” Lodha said after perusing the note placed by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the rescue and relief operations carried out at the behest of the Centre.

The bench, which put the matter for further consideration on September 18, said though the Centre has done a “wonderful job” and “so many things” were undertaken without any direction from the court, it has not focused on the rehabilitation of the victims.

In its order, the bench also asked the state government to clear the flood-affected areas from cattle and animal carcass as it could lead to spread of diseases. Rohatgi ruled out the suggestion of outsourcing the work on rescue and relief operations carried out by the Army, NDRF and the state police, saying that Jammu and Kashmir is a "very sensitive" state and even the frontier areas have bore the brunt of nature's fury.

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