Sunday 14 September 2014

Situation in Srinagar

14.9.2014, 7.30 a.m.

I had a detailed telephonic talk just now with Mr. G.H. Kaloo, President of the J&K Press Association, and publisher of the J&K newspaper 'Mirror of Kashmir ' ( mobile number 09419005276 ). He is in Srinagar, but luckily his house on the Airport Road is on a higher area and so was not affected by the floods.

I also tried to contact Iftekhar Gilani of DNA newspaper, New Delhi, who had recently gone to Srinagar, but I could not get through to him.

 I told Mr. Kaloo that I was meeting the Union Home Minister at 3.45 p.m. today, and asked him what should I tell the Minister.

Mr. Kaloo said that the state administration in Kashmir has totally disappeared. Though the flood water in Srinagar is slowly receding many areas are still submerged. There is still 3-4 feet water in Lal Chowk. He said that the immediate requirements are :
1. Baby food. Milk is unavailable, and is needed, either in packets or in dry packs
2.Food rations. No rice, vegetables or pulses are available. The shops have disappeared.
3.Chlorine tablets. These are required in large quantities for purifying the drinking water, which may be contaminated.
4. Medicines for preventing cholera and other diseases which are otherwise bound to break out.
5. Edible oil,
6. Kerosene oil.
7. Petrol and diesel. These are required as mobility is zero
8. Dewatering pumps. No such pump is visible. Many areas are still submerged, with whole colonies underwater.
9. Mobile phones and other means of communication. There is still a communication drought.
10.Blankets and warm clothing. These are necessary as the cold weather is shortly to begin.

I told Mr. Kaloo that Iftekhar Gilani had suggested that a Central Command Centre should be established for rescue and relief work, and all relief agencies, both Central and state, should be subordinated to it. This is necessary as at present the rescue and relief agencies, though doing excellent work, are uncoordinated, which affects their effectiveness.

Iftekhar also told me that this Centre should issue hourly bulletins about the situation in Kashmir, giving full details about each locality, the people stranded, the efforts being made by the rescue and relief agencies, the needs of the people, etc. Planning should also commence immediately for the relief and rehabilitation work after the floods recede, as there will be a lot of litter left everywhere, causing all kinds of diseases. Doctors will be required.

 I also told Mr. Kaloo that many people in India and abroad want to send help in various forms, but do not know where to send it. Hence I intend to tell the Union Home Minister in our meeting this afternoon that a nodal Centre should immediately be set up, preferably in Delhi and/or at the Srinagar Airport ( which is on higher ground, and so is safe ), where this help can be sent, and the telephone numbers of the nodal Centre ( or Centres ) and the mobile numbers of its relevant officials should be publicized in the media.

 Mr. Kaloo is reaching Delhi with some media people of J&K on Tuesday afternoon, and will be meeting me. He has requested me to get an appointment for them with the Union Home Minister on Wednesday. I said I will certainly try.

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