(By MA Mir)
MUZAFFARABAD Sept 22: “We had never thought we would see a road floating away with the floodwater,” said Kashmiri businessman Ejaz Ahmad Mir. “I saw the Muzaffarabad-Chakothi Road swept away near Chanari. The National Highways Authority (NHA) must find out how this important road collapsed and caused damage to the vital land link near the Line of Control (LoC).”
While 15 bridges and road links in Azad Jammu and Kashmir have been damaged by the floods, an estimated 625 kilometres of roads have been affected in the region. The strong currents have damaged a water supply scheme worth Rs50 million while Rs95 million worth of electricity transmission lines have also been affected. Meanwhile, nine mini hydel power projects currently under construction at a cost of Rs173 million and property losses worth Rs533 million have been incurred. Above all, government infrastructure has suffered a loss of Rs3786 million.
Secretary State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) Akram Sohail told The Express Tribune that more than 1,875 heads of cattle had perished, 245 shops destroyed and 2,050 acres of crops ruined in Hattian, Bagh, Kotli and Haveli. In 10 districts of AJK, 130 villages have been affected.
On September 7, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid visited Haveli, where 29 people died due to the floods and landslides. He distributed Rs0.5 million each among the relatives of those who had lost their lives. And despite the torrents speeding through Punjab, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited flood-hit areas and distributed financial compensation among the survivors.
While 100 people are living at a relief camp in Bagh, the others have been provided with tents by the government and NGOs in their respective areas. “Our priority is to rehabilitate the flood victims and open all roads blocked by the landslides,” the SDMA secretary said.
Sub-divisional magistrates have been tasked with surveying the flood-hit areas. Each damaged house or site will be visited by Revenue Department officials who will file compensation reports. All victims must sign the compensation forms and provide their photographs in order for the process to move forward. Sohail said local authorities and World Bank teams will ensure transparency in the process of compensating these victims.
In Haveli, locals are protesting as the Works and Communications department has failed to reopen the Degwar village road, blocked by a landslide on September 7.
“Our children, women and elders cannot reach the district headquarters at Forward Kahuta and for the last two weeks, college students have been walking to reach their schools or colleges,” said a resident of Degwar. Sohail says the road has not been opened so far, but the Haveli district administration has strict orders to open this vital link within days.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2014.