Shadow over Eid in Kashmir, thousands remain homeless

Even three weeks after unprecedented floods ravaged the Kashmir Valley, thousands here are not sure if they will be in a position to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha a week from now.

Thousands remain homeless in Srinagar after losing virtually all their possessions after waters from the Jhelum flooded their houses.

Traders who too lost everything are not sure when they can bounce back. Eid-ul-Azha, the holiest Muslim festival, falls on October 6.

Residential and commercial areas of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Wazirbagh, Kursoo, Gogjibagh, Bemina, Qamarwari, Padshahi Bagh and Mehjoor Nagar are still under floodwaters.

“We went home to retrieve some documents. We hired a boat to reach our home. Everything we had television, fridge, washing machine, bedding, furniture and wardrobes has been destroyed,” moaned Nisar Hussain.

“The problem is unless we are able to move in to clean the house and take out flood soaked items, we cannot live there till the next year as winter is approaching fast,” added the Gogjibagh area resident.

The heart of Srinagar’s commerce and trade, Residency Road, Lal Chowk, Maisuma and Hari Singh High Street, have been cleared of stagnant floodwater.

But trading and other commercial activity is unlikely to start soon because shopkeepers are still removing their flood damaged merchandise and cleaning their establishments.

“Business is unlikely to be resumed till the Eid festival and even later,” said Showkat Ahmad, a shopkeeper in the Hari Singh High Street market where mud and slush are still over a foot deep in the shops.

The problem with the dewatering process in Srinagar is that almost all the work is being done through water pumps of the fire services department and by affording cuts in the embankments of the Jhelum.

Water in both the Jhelum and the flood spill channel which overflowed their embankments during the floods is now much lower than that in the inundated areas.

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