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Six months on Dal inhabitants yet to receive relief for damages suffered during Sep 2014 flood
3/23/2015 10:16:21 PM
Mudasir Tariq
Early Times Report

Srinagar, Mar 23: Even six months after the September 2014 floods, families living in Dal Lake and it's peripheries in houseboats, Dongas and makeshift houses are yet to receive any amount relief from the government.
While the estimated loss for the inhabitants of Dal Lake and Nageen Lake is believed to be more than 12 crore rupees, the residents allege that even though they were the worst hit of the devastating floods they were left out on their own as no government agency provided them any financial assistance.
"During September floods the water level of Dal Lake crossed danger level as a result of which many houses were damaged here. Several houseboats and Shikaras were also drowned in the floods. While flood affected people living in other parts of the city were given some amount of the relief if not complete, we were left to God's mercy. We haven't received any financial assistance till date," said Javaid Bhat, a resident here who lives in a makeshift house in Dal Lake.
Javed claimed that the residents of Dal Lake and its peripheries protested several times in the recent past and met politicians and higher officials to put up their genuine demands but to no avail. "Besides assurances we were given nothing. No step for relief has been done on the ground and we are going through huge financial crisis," he said.
Meanwhile, post floods due to minimal tourist influx in the valley; the business of Dal dwellers has faced a halt as these people are dependent on the tourism sector. The problem is further hard hitting their pockets as no one is attracted to take a ride in the famous Dal Lake.
"We are going through huge losses; since floods no one has shown up. We have lost both our homes and source of income and everyone among us are going through a tough stage," said Abdul Rashid Bhat, Secretary Shikara Association.
Rashid claimed that 15 houseboats were severely damaged while five Shikaras sank completely due to the gushing waters which they were unable to retrieve. The shikarawalas held that they put their lives in danger while rescuing people during the flood as they were well versed with the situation and are still met with step motherly behaviour.
"We were the ones who provided Shikaras and small boats to rescue people from all the inundated areas. We were there all the time, saving people throughout the city in our Shikaras. Daring through the ferocious waters day in and day out, some of our boats even suffered damage beyond repairs," said Rayaz Ahmad, a Shikarawala.
Meanwhile the houseboat owners whose house boats were damaged during the floods are the worst hits as they cannot repair these houseboats pertaining to the ban imposed on repair and reconstruction since 1980s as it was deemed necessary to save water bodies from overcrowding and pollution.
"The damaged houseboats need a lot of repair work. We have to ensure the safety by coring (filling the gaps between wooden floor planks with a specific weed) them every few years, a process that costs us around fifty thousand rupees.
These boats are now unsafe to live in as they can sink any time. The unjustified ban shall one day extinct all the houseboats, said Zahoor Ahmad, a houseboat owner.
When contacted Vice Chairman (LAWDA) Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Sarmad Hafeez said, "We are not looking after the relief and rehabilitation process. This comes under the domain of Deputy Commissioner Srinagar. I am sure they must have done the survey about the losses suffered by the Dal inhabitants and their genuine problems will be sorted out soon. If any person has a complaint in this regard, they may contact us in our office and we will surely help them."
When asked about the ban on the repair of house boats Hafeez said, "Yes according to the law there is ban on any repair of houseboats but we are taking stock of the situation, whoso ever has faced any loss during floods, we will provide them assistance."
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Six months on Dal inhabitants yet to receive relief for damages suffered during Sep 2014 flood
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