Srinagar: Criticising the Union and the Jammu and Kashmir governments for “inadequate” relief to the last year’s flood victims, a Parliamentary committee today said the Centre should give liberal financial assistance to the state to compensate the people.
“We have discussed a number of issues, particularly the issue of relief of the people affected by the last year’s floods. I must say that while the state government has informed us that it has done its best with the resources at its command, my own view, and that is the view of the members of the committee also, is that a lot more is required to be done.
“The relief and compensation given so far is totally unacceptable, inadequate and it does not constitute the reasonable compensation… I and the committee are of the view that it is not enough,” head of the 16- member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, Ashwani Kumar, told reporters here.
Kumar said the central government should give liberal financial assistance as per the plans submitted by the state government to the Union government.
“In our report, we intend to make a strong case for liberal financial assistance to the state of Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of relief and rehabilitation and compensation to the commercial establishments and also for reconstruction of the houses.
“There has been a suggestion that the business community, in order to kick-start their business, could be given loans on easy interest rates. This, I believe could be easily possible,” he said.
Kumar also questioned the lack of political will of the state government to address certain issues. “We also believe that there are other certain critical areas of governance in which the question is not of the lack of resources, but about the lack of political and administrative will. For example, the master plan of Srinagar is not being complied with. Haphazard constructions are the order of the day, the pollution of the water bodies, including Dal, Nigeen and Wullar continues unabated,” he said.
The parliamentary committee also criticised the state government over massive deforestration and encroachments of the forests. “The other issue that we feel deserves immediate attention is deforestation. This is a reality (that) there is a large scale deforestation going on and the compensatory afforestation has not kept pace. We have given specific examples in Ramban area of the scale at which the encroachments have taken place.
“And the state government has confirmed that 13,300 hectares of land has been encroached upon in the state,” he said. Kumar said the state government had informed the committee that they have succeeded in reclaiming some part of the encroached land.
“That however is very minimum. I have asked them to give within one week an action plan on how they would prevent further encroachments,” he said.
He said the solid waste management in Srinagar and Jammu cities was an issue. “The discharge of sewage continues unabated into the lakes. Large scale constructions that block the water in channels is an issue. They (government) said they have given a plan to have another flood channel, but that is a long-term plan. I have insisted for short-term measures which are absolutely imperative and cannot wait any longer. The de-silting and dredging of Jhelum has to continue on a war-footing,” he said.
He said the committee would submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his immediate personal intervention. “We plan to submit our report within four weeks of our visit. We will send this report to Prime Minister for his immediate personal intervention. We believe that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, because of its unique geographical position, the political situation and its state of economic development, needs massive dose of financial assistance by the central government and the sooner that happens the better it would be,” Kumar said.
On the delay in sanctioning relief package, Kumar said “I cannot pass a judgment. The state government itself informed us that it took two months for them to form the government. Then immediately they went into their own budget session and they had to take time to formulate their own demands”.