Words cannot explain the misery. Numbers alone do not indicate the quantum or dimension of loss from the horrific devastation. Unprecedented downpour, lack of advance warning and innumerable encroachments on the possible outlets, all contributed to the catastrophe. Submerged and ravaged dwellings, suffering & struggling humanity, choked drains, swept culverts, blocked and cut-off roads, broken bridges and uprooted communication towers are a sad testimony to what nature had to give. Hope does remain, nevertheless, as in the past, in identical trying settings. So there is semblance of light at the end of the long, circuitous tunnel.
We seem to be having better and trained manpower, more awareness & sensitization, upgraded equipments, pro-active support systems and alert response mechanism. But something may have been amiss somewhere. Shall we not introspect, therefore? Focus has long shifted from relief to quick rescue & mitigation mechanism. Yet, the worst calamity in sixty years did happen in the Northern-most State. It is akin to massive cloudburst and landslides in the neighbouring Uttarakhand in the third week of June, 2013.
More than 2400 sorties by eighty Air Force crafts gives an ample evidence of swiftness and dedication at which the trapped people were evacuated. Death toll of 200 plus, though is not alarming but element of tension, trauma and setback is definitely tremendous.
Many a time, such tragedies tend to unite or put temporary brakes to the abnormal/delinquent intents and acts. Army personnel who were mostly frowned upon or looked at with a certain degree of suspicion by people in general and at times by the State Govt. are not only being trusted but immense sense of gratitude is being showered on them. Similarly, Cell phones and Social media withdrawn time and again from the State on security grounds and restored subsequently, have played a stellar role in connecting as well as locating the trapped populace on the one hand and in insuring the success of relief operations on the other. Criticism, side by side, if taken in a sporting way, does also help.
Religious differences too seem to have been set aside for a change, in this hour of crisis. A large number of ‘Hindu’ NGO’s are seen extending support and succor to those injured and displaced. It is also pleasing to see Kashmiri Sikhs preparing food in bulk for the flood victims at a relief camp set up at a Gurudwara in the heart of Srinagar. Never to go hatred on the part of Pakistani forces at the International Border and the L.O.C. too has come to a standstill ever since floods began playing havoc indiscriminately in the villages on both sides of the border.
Despite exemplary service and commitment by the Army, Air Force, Navy, NDRF etc. for close to a fortnight, more than two lakh people still are reported to be stranded in some form or the other. An amount of Rs. 5000 Crores may be needed in setting things right according to one of the rough estimates. Against which an amount of Rs.1000 Crores as an Interim Grant has been announced by the Prime Minister. Coming to concentration of impact, if one is not mistaken, focus continues to be on Srinagar. But other areas facing similar deluge should not be ignored or neglected, whatever may be compulsion.
Adequate pre-emptive measures should be taken to prevent outbreak of any epidemic, especially the diseases born out of contaminated water. False and inflated claims, incidences of disappearances, acts of theft of personal belongings etc. are bound to happen. One has to guard sufficiently against such mishaps and acts of mischiefs and identify the culprits at the earliest opportunity. Anti-social elements and part-time Social Workers do have a tendency to exploit such fragile and pathetic situations. They have to be pin-pointed and acted against at the right moment with the active co-operation of the Punchayat/civil society.
As and when eroded terrain dries up with the clearance of weather, remains of human beings and animals would surface in the slushy circumstances, throwing fresh challenges which may look daunting but those have to be tackled with sound planning and strategy. Fractured health, educational, Punchayat and Local Self Govt. set up would require quick healing touch. Any attempt to do fishing in the troubled waters will be both inhuman and undesirable.
The State Government shall have to resume its normal functions before the Army withdraws. Fresh lessons may have to be learnt to cater to essential supplies. Ultimately, the devastated livelihoods will have to be rebuilt. Personal savings and private donations would have to supplement the Government Grants, for, the usual income from tourism sector will take a long time to get restored. Overall, good sense and noble intention must prevail in all walks of life in this tourism centred State. Or else, Malthusian saying that “when man fails, nature takes over” may continue to hold good.