SRINAGAR: The boats are still being used in Srinagar’s posh Rajbagh area, 27 days after worst-ever floods ravaged the Kashmir.
The Rajbagh area continues to be under 3-4 feets of water. The area alongwith most civil lines localities in Srinagar was inundated in flood waters on September 7.
Being on the banks of the river Jehlum, the area was one of the worst hit by the floods and about two storeys of houses were submerged in the water. Many houses in the area have collapsed and many others developed cracks, making them unsafe for living.
Many hotels, guest houses, residential houses and commercial buildings in the area continue to remain submerged. People have still to travel in boats to their houses, which are still not fit for use.
The boats are still ferrying men in the area and people wait in queue for the boatman to take them inside their homes.
“We paid the boatman Rs 1500 for taking us inside our home and return us to the dry patch. The boat is the only way to reach our homes,” said a local resident Athisham-ul-Haq.
He said sometimes boatman refuse to take people if they don’t pay him a good amount.
“There is no help from the government, which has not bothered to keep a boat here so that people could visit their homes and take out their valuable belongings,” Haq said.
With the area still under water, people have not been able to clean their homes to ensure their return.
A local resident Riyaz Ahmad, who is now living at his relative’s house in downtown Srinagar, said he visits the area daily in the morning with the hope that water will be drained out today and returns disappointed in the evening.
The locals have criticized government for tardy efforts to drain out flood waters. “27 days have passed since flood hit Valley. The government has failed to drain out the flood water from Rajbagh till day,” said a local resident, Zubair Ahmad.
Accusing government of not doing enough, he and other locals said, “They (authorities) have not pressed high powered water pumps to drain out the water. They have been using ordinary water pumps, which are proving ineffective”.
The authorities breached the embankments of Jehlum at many places in the posh area to drain water. However, it had not desirous results.
A lady hailing from the area said water is receding from the area at a very slow pace.
“There is a high risk that our houses will collapse if water is not drained out fast,” she said.
J&K Chief Secretary, Muhammad Iqbal Khanday told media recently that over 200 pumps brought from entire India were working in Srinagar city in dewatering operations.
Asked why it was taking time to dewater Rajbagh and other areas, he said, “We are facing several constraints in dewatering. One that the sheer volume of water was immense and two the water level in these areas is lower than the river level due to low lying nature of these areas.”
Another government official said they have breached the embankments of Jehlum at many places in the area besides using many water pumps to drain out the water.
“The water level has receded and we are hopeful that within a week all flood-water will be drained out from the area,” he said.