HC functions from Gupkar;Issues notices to GoI, J&K

SYED BASHARAT. Dated: 9/19/2014 11:32:11 PM

SRINAGAR, Sep 19: Dismayed over the condition of flood victims of Kashmir, the High Court today issued notices to Government of India and the state government asking them to file response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting the pathetic condition in flood affected areas of the Valley.
Since the High Court complex is inundated, the Court was shifted to government quarter of Justice A M Magrey (Kothi number M5 at Gupkar). A division bench comprising of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice A M Magrey heard the PIL and issued the notice asking the respondents to file responses by or before September 22. The matter has been listed for September 22.
Besides this PIL, some fresh matters were also heard by Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Hasnain Masoodi at Gupkar. The PIL filed G A Lone and Jahangir Iqbal Ganai has sought directions to Union of India through Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Secretary to Government of India Social Welfare Department, State of Jammu and Kashmir. Through its Chief Secretary Civil Secretariat, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir , Srinagar Municipal Corporation through its Commissioner, Karan Nagar, Director Health Services, Kashmir and various deputy commissioners of Kashmir.
The petitioners have said that Jammu and Kashmir as a whole and Valley of Kashmir in particular has received incessant rain uninterruptedly for six days and nights starting from the first week of September 2014.
“This caused flood of unimaginable magnitude, neither known to human memory nor recorded in any written history. The floods caused colossal loss through the length and breadth of the valley. All the tributaries of the river Jhelum were flooded and before draining in river Jhelum, washed away several residential houses and commercial complexes situated near their banks. These tributaries include Vasshu, Lidder, Rambara, Doodh Ganga and that of Sindh,” the petition reads.
The petitioners said the increase in the river water of Jhelum went above 12 feet the danger mark at a place known as Sangam. While passing through the city of Srinagar, its banks at several places where breached by ferocious speed of the water at many places. The water over flowed the banks. The entire city of Srinagar except few areas escaped the flood. In most of the areas, the water level raised upto two storeys, making it impossible for most of the residents to leave their residential houses.
The petitions reads: “Some of the house reportedly collapsed in the residential areas of Jawahar Nagar, Rajbag, Batwara , Karan Nagar, Chota Bazaar, Safa Kadal, HMT, Lal Chowk, Ram Bagh, Magarmal Bagh, Tengpora and Karsu Padsha Bagh resulting in loss of human life. The flood water in these areas has not receded completely till date. The petitioners are not, therefore, in a position to indicate the number of deaths and their identity. The reports are galore that in a single house at Jawahar Nagar, 13 dead bodies have been recovered two days back. Having regard to the magnitude of the flood, the number of deaths reported as on date is about 250 and in all probability, the number of loss of life may rise.”
The petitioners said: “That the goods in store for trade in the commercial complexes and the shops worth several hundred crores have reportedly perished leaving the entire business community in tatters. Nothing seems to have remained safe for sale. The damage to the residential houses is possibly more than the damage suffered in the commercial establishments. It is common knowledge that a house built in concrete mortar will not be safe for residence when it suffers flood of enormous magnitude furiously running at high speed and thereafter remains under flood water for more than two weeks. The residential houses in the flooded area are build on alluvial soil not too strong to resist the impact the flood. The house structures will, therefore, require huge repairs or may require rebuilding for making them safe for human living.”
The petition reads: “That the public property didn’t remain immune from the damages caused by the flood. These include hundreds of bridges, school buildings, hospitals (more particularly medical apparatus). For understanding the magnitude of damage to the public property it is enough to quote that all the hospitals in the city of Srinagar except SKIMS became non-functional just three days after the start of the rain. The patients in the hospitals where mostly evacuated by the civil society and the NDRF leaving them to their own fate. The State Government had even by this time become non functional. It will not be too tall a claim if we say that the state government had become non-existent. The civil secretariat and the High Court building were also inundated. No arrangements were at place for the people to reach the Hon’ble High Court for redressal of their grievances.”
The petitioners maintained that they have themselves seen the human suffering caused by the floods and having seen hundreds and thousands of people seeking shelter in private relief camps, arranged by the civil society in various localities either in the mosques, shrines and Gurudwaras and are filing this writ petition on behalf of the people who have suffered due to floods and thereto seek relief in the nature of providing for appropriate rehabilitation and rebuilding policy, proper distribution of funds/payment of compensation and relief to the identified victims of flood without discrimination. .
It further observed that the government has till date shown total neglect towards the flood victims in the performance of its duties. The State has a constitutional duty towards it is citizens in general and the victims of natural calamity in particular for providing them basic needs for survival. “The victims continue to be in wilderness and distresses as the only place where they can take shelter are the local camps organized by the civil society. The court being a sentinel of Justice for the flood victims and being the voice of constitution is the only hope of the sufferers for receiving a fair treatment in provider of relief and rehabilitation,” the petition said.
The petition states that a large quantity of material in the shape of eatables, medicine etc has been made available to the State government by various Governments /authorities /agencies. As per the information received by the Petitioners, the material is laying waste at Airport with no state agency coming forward to receive the material and discharge its duty of effective distribution to the relief victims. They further said, “There is every apprehension that the material may get rotten and the same would be the position with regard to the material being deputed for the victims from outside the state. Shakespeare in Hamlet had written …“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” appears to be apt as far as administrative system prevailing at present in the valley is concerned. The entire government apparatus has failed. There is system failure. Neither the administration nor the police authorities are discharging their duties. The Government has virtually become a liability. It is in this view of the matter, the Petitioners with a sense of responsibility, and the public at large believe that it is only this Hon’ble Court which alone can hear and feel their pain occasioned due to the floods and thereto provide succor to the victims/ sufferers of the floods.”
The petition also stated that there is has been no effective steps taken till date for dewatering the inundated/ flooded area of Rajbagh, Jawhar Nagar, Kursoo, Bemina, Lal Chowk and other submerged area by the Government thus posing serious threat of Epidemic like cholera , typhoid and Hepititious B. This is more for the reason that hundreds of dead bodies of cows and other animals including stray dogs are still floating at certain area particularly near toto ground and Parimpora area. Extra effective directions are required to be issued to remove the carcasses with an added direction to provide to the public at large anti-cholera and anti typhoid vaccine to save human lives.
It also alleged that the government has no known policy of identifying the flood victims and the kin and kith of those whose lives have perished due to floods. Suggesting the immediate need to appoint a committee by the court Court, the petition added that the committee can be entrusted the job of identification of the flood victim.
“For the Government of India, the State Governments, Corporations owned by the Central and State Governments, Government and semi-government organizations and some leading business houses have already declared relief packages for the flood victims but there is no known policy with the State Government for distribution of relief and for providing rehabilitations to the victims. The Hon’ble Court may in Public Interest issue directions for fixing the criteria and norms in regard to the distribution of relief to the victims and also nominate an agency to monitor such distribution.”
It further alleged that the department of CAPD is stated to have during the last four days distributed some quantity of rice and sugar but the same as per the information of the Petitioners has landed into the hands of people with muscle power and political linkage. There is immediate need to check the system in operation in this regard, the petition added.
It adds that the roads wherever dry are filled with filth and dirt. The garbage dumps has increased in volumes with no effective steps being taken for its removal. These garbage dumb are a known source of epidemic. The response of Srinagar Municipality has been painfully almost nil, it further demanded.
The petition adds, “For several villages in the district of Kulgam including that of Adigan, Aishthal, Kalangund, Chamjund and Airigam have been washed away and the people living in the villages have been left to the mercy of God. Nothing is being done by the government for the effected villagers. The victims have been left without there being any food, drinking water or medicines. Same is the story about the effected villages of district Anantnag which include Janglat Mandi, Danter, Achajipora, Adibal Telwani, District Pulwama, Bandipora and Shopian. Besides their residential houses, damage has been caused to shops, fields and orchards. Reportedly about 390 villages have fully submerged and about 1200 partially in the Valley. Effective directions need to be issued so as to ensure that the victims are provided with the basic necessities of life by the government. The Hon’ble Court be also informed about the actual number of Villages washed away /inundated due to floods in the district of Anantnag , Kulgam , Shopian and Bandipora and as to what steps are being taken by the respondents for the protection, safety and providing of basic necessities to the victims and rehabilitation of the sufferers of the flood.”
The petitioners have said that there appears to be no policy of the State Government for ensuring that the floods are controlled. In case there is a policy, the respondents need to disclose the same and also the reasons as to why the policy failed to check/control the flood. As the matter is of grave concern, the respondents are duty bound to notify a short term and a Long term policy for controlling floods. The state has already seen the effect of such a failure on the part of the Government despite the fact that the State machineries concerned were informed in advance that there are chances of floods, the petition adds.
“That non judicial stamp has not become available to the petitioners despite efforts. No oath commissioner or notary public is available. The petition is being filed without an affidavit and the requisite deficiency shall be made good as soon as the situation improve. In the premises, it is therefore prayed that having regard to the submissions made herein above, this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to issue/pass orders and directions in the public interest as deemed fit and appropriate.”

 

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