Kashmiri youth rowing a shikara boat past a flood-inundated bank near Dal Lake in Srinagar.  A small army of fellow shikara owners, who normally ferry holidaymakers, have spent the last five days rescuing those stranded on sinking houseboats and bringing them to safety.
Kashmiri youth rowing a shikara boat past a flood-inundated bank near Dal Lake in Srinagar. A small army of fellow shikara owners, who normally ferry holidaymakers, have spent the last five days rescuing those stranded on sinking houseboats and bringing them to safety.

Coordination for distributing essential supplies deserves top-most priority along with the provision for health-care facilities, says court 

New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday asked the government to consider setting up a unified agency to coordinate the relief and rehabilitation operation in Jammu and Kashmir hit by floods that have left the state marooned.

The court was hearing two petitions, one a PIL by a person Vasundhra Pathak Masoodi and the other by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party who had urged the court to intervene for the immediate rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the people affected.

Noting that it was in no doubt that the government was concerned about the calamity that had affected a large number of people in J&K, the bench of Chief Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said, “The Government of India may also consider forming a Unified Agency for proper coordination of rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations.”

The court said, “It goes without saying that supply of food, drinking water, medicines, fuel and other essential supplies deserve top-most priority and so also the restoration of communication and provision for health-care facilities.”

“After all, lives of people who are affected by such disaster have to be saved,” the court said.  Directing the listing of the matter Sep 15, the court said the high court should start functioning forthwith as whatever may be the extent of a calamity the constitutional bodies must be seen functioning even if in a symbolic form.

Saying that he was concerned about the functioning of the high court which has come to a standstill, Chief Justice Lodha said that he had spoken to the Chief Justice of the high court on this count.

As one of the petitioners informed the court that the high court itself was flooded with water, Chief Justice Lodha said the high court could function from a two-room accommodation or a guest house.

“What is important is not the address of the place from where the high court is functioning but (the fact) that the constitutional functionaries are working” even in such adversities, he underlined.

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Over a lakh rescued: HM

Srinagar: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday said a total of 130,000 people have been rescued so far from various parts of flood-affected Jammu and Kashmir.

A total of “130,000 people have been rescued from the state”, Singh said at a press conference in New Delhi.

In a separate statement in Srinagar, the defence ministry said 89 transport aircraft and helicopters of the Indian Air Force and Indian Army Aviation Corps have been pressed into service in the state.

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