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‘Kashmir Floods 2014’: MoH report picks holes in govt’s relief payments after disastrous deluge

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Srinagar: Although efforts were made at ameliorating the hardships of the people affected by the disastrous floods of 2014 but relief amounting to crores of rupees was not paid to thousands of eligible households, a report by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoH), Government of India (GoI), has said.

The report titled ‘Kashmir Floods 2014’ published by the National Institute of Disaster Management (MoH), citing report from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said that the guidelines for operation of SDRF envisage payment of gratuitous relief of Rs 1300 per family for loss of clothing.

It also lays down that Rs 1400 are to be paid for loss of utensils and household goods to families whose houses were either washed away or inundated for more than a week or fully damaged.

Relief amounting to Rs 12.60 crore was not provided to 46,680 eligible households. On the other hand, gratuitous relief of Rs 1.42 crore was provided to ineligible families, explained the report.

Claims in respect of damage to private (immovable) property was assessed by a Committee under the chairmanship of Additional District Development Commissioner (ADDC) along with the Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) and other officers.

Cases filed relating to fully, severely and partially damaged houses containing applications of the victims with recommendations of the Sarpanch affixed with reports of the Revenue department were prepared for Poonch and Udhampur districts. Similarly for Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam districts cases were finalized on the basis of lists prepared by the Revenue department.

Non-formulation of SOPs for categorization of fully, severely and partially damaged houses resulted in irregularities in assessment of damages to the houses such as change of status of damaged houses and assistance paid in unapproved cases, said the report.

It said that the assessment of livestock loss and damage to agricultural land and crops had not been conducted in any of the test-checked districts of Kashmir division even after a lapse of 18 months from the occurrence of the floods.

Funds amounting to Rs 84 lakhs were paid for the loss of 730 animals in Jammu district without verification of death of livestock by the competent authority. SDRF norms envisage payment of input subsidy to small and marginal farmers who had suffered crop loss of 50 percent and above with cash assistance for damage to agricultural land, the report said.

It explained that Rs 4.20 crores assessed for land damage in Poonch district was not provided to affected persons as of August 2015. Rs 1.83 crores released in March 2015 to five tehsildars for payment of assistance to the affected farmers was not paid to them even after a lapse of five months.  The amount, according to the report, remained unutilized in the official bank accounts of the tehsildars.

Divisional authorities prepared reports of damaged infrastructure of various sectors such as Public Health Engineering (PHE), Public Works (Roads and Bridges), Power Development (Electric Maintenance and Rural Electrification) and Irrigation and Flood Control departments.

Assessment of damages was completed in only three out of the six test-checked districts while need assessment had not been conducted in any of the six districts. This resulted in partial or inaccurate damage assessment as well as consequential delays in arranging materials and procurement of supplies that adversely impacted provision of timely assistance to the affected persons.

Audit had noticed that none of the test-checked districts had formulated evacuation plans in case of any disaster. No evacuation/relief centres/camps had been identified in any of the test-checked districts.

In the absence of a response and evacuation plan, rescue, evacuation and relief was managed in an ad hoc manner and without even a minimum of controls.

The District Administration, Srinagar, had hired 504 boats for evacuation of affected people from the flood affected areas at a cost of Rs 1.77 crore during 3rd September 2014 to 10th October 2014. The report noted that Rs 1.77 crore was paid (October 2015) to the President of the All J&K Shikara Owner’s Association. Scrutiny of the bank statements of payments made to the boatmen by DC Srinagar revealed less payment of Rs 30.16 lakh.

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