SRI NAGAR: The people are still using boats for commuting in the city’s posh Rajbagh area, where water level measures three to four ft even 28 days after the worst-ever floods ravaged the Kashmir Valley.
Being on the banks of Jehlum, the area was one of the worst hit in the floods and even two-storeyed houses were submerged in the water. Many houses in the area have collapsed and others developed cracks, making them unsafe for living.
Many hotels, guest houses, residential houses and commercial buildings in the area are still submerged.
The boats are ferrying people, who wait in queue for the boatman to take them inside their houses. “We paid the boatman Rs 1,500 for taking us inside our house and return us to the dry patch. The boat is the only way to reach our homes,” said Athisham-ul-Haq, a resident here.
According to him, sometimes boatman refuse to take people if they don’t pay him a decent 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.
Another resident Riyaz Ahmad, who is now living at his relative’s house in downtown Srinagar, said he visits the area daily with the hope that water would have been drained out, but returns disappointed.
The local people have criticised the Omar Abdullah-led state government for its tardy efforts to drain out the flood waters. “As many as 27 days have passed since the flood hit the Valley. The government has failed to drain out the flood water from Rajbagh,” said Zubair Ahmad, another local resident.
Accusing the government of not doing enough, he and others 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 had breached the embankments of Jehlum at many places in Rajbagh area to remove water, but in vain. “There is a high risk for our houses to collapse if water is not drained out fast,” a lady hailing from the area said.
J&K Chief Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khanday had told the media recently that over 200 pumps brought from across the country were employed here in dewatering operations.
Asked why it was taking time to dewatering Rajbagh and other areas, he said, “We are facing several constraints in dewatering. The main problem is the sheer volume of water and then the water level in these areas is lower than the river level, as these areas are low lying ones.”
Another government official, however, said they were hopeful of draining out the water from the area within a week.