Omar to approach Centre only after final assessment of damages

Omar to approach Centre only after final assessment of damages

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said the damages in the state due the worst floods in more than a century would run into "many thousands of crores" but he would approach the Centre only after the final assessment is complete.

"In terms of property damage, it is too early to give a final figure but obviously it will run in thousands of crores," Omar told PTI at his makeshift office at Hari Niwas Guest House here. The Chief Minister said almost every sector has been badly affected by the floods.

"You have property damage in terms of houses, you have damage to shops, business establishments, then the products within the shops have also been damaged. There is massive damage to the physical infrastructure of the government like roads, bridges, water supply schemes, etc.

"There is damage to agriculture crops...our paddy, maize crop, horticulture crops like pear has been destroyed as it could not reach the market. The lands have been washed away," he said. All these put together will run into "many thousands of crores," he said.

Omar said he would firm numbers in terms of losses and damages before he approaches the Centre with the memorandum for aid. "I need to have firm numbers before I tell the people what the extent of actual damage is. There is an assessment going on to determine the extent of damage and because we need to have that number available to us to put in the memo that we are going to submit to the Government of India," he said.

The Chief Minister said he "cannot even hazard a guess" about the actual losses as the numbers keep changing with the passage of time.  "I will give you an example: up to two days ago, we had the input that 1500 houses have been fully damaged in Anantnag district. Today, I was told that the number of fully damaged houses in the district is 8000," he said.

Omar said all the districts have been told to compile the details of damages and losses at the earliest.

"I think barring Srinagar, we are still grappling with floods here, most of the districts are completing their work," he said. Although the state government tried to make the Civil Secretariat functional yesterday, the attempt was unsuccessful due to water logging and Omar was candid in admitting it.

"We will make another attempt on Monday," he said even as his whole cabinet and top bureaucrats are camping at Hari Niwas. Omar said life in Srinagar city, which has been worst affected by the floods, will begin to move towards normalcy in the next two days.

"We are still some way away from normalcy. It depends on how you categorise normalcy. South Kashmir is limping back much faster but that is because of the natural flow of the water. Pampore is still largely inundated but now through artificial cuts in the bund (banks), the water is flowing back into the river.

"So we are hopeful that things will sort of begin to move towards normality within next 24 to 48 hours," he said.

The Chief Minister said while some areas of Srinagar were largely unaffected by the floods, some parts are still inundated in water.

"Cuts have been made to facilitate the flow of water.That has been perhaps the most successful way of draining out the water. Large number of cuts have been made from Pampore to Chattabal and beyond to get the water to flow out," he said.

Omar said while most of the organized cuts made by the government have worked well, in some cases, people have taken the matters into their own hands causing damage to some water supply schemes. "That is alright as our priority has to be draining of water. Pumping is also going on though pumps will never be an ideal solution due to the limited capacity," he said.

The Chief Minister said the inundated areas of the city still require to be supplied food and medicines and "that is being done". "Medical camps are being organised so that diseases and illnesses can be treated," he added.

Omar appealed to the people not to take advantage of the crisis arising out of floods and instead come together to help the victims.

"We had a tough time, all of us had a tough time, particularly those who have been directly affected, it has been worst for them. In this hour of crisis, we are doing the best we can. My only request, earnest appeal to people is not to take advantage of this crisis," he said.

The Chief Minister said there have been instances where people instead of taking one share of relief material, took two or three shares.

"They are depriving others (of relief material).I have instances where houses have been robbed. People have gone there for rescue and emptied the houses," he said, adding, "This is an hour of crisis and we need to come together to help people and not to help ourselves". 
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