After 2014 floods, Rajouri-Poonch yet to see any change in preparations

People in Rajouri and Poonch have raised serious concern over poor disaster management preparations in the Pir Panjal region, accusing authorities of failing to do much even after 2014 floods that created havoc in the twin districts.

Locals have demanded strict implementation of no construction zone orders near water bodies, mass scale afforestation activities, district based weather forecasting and public advisory mechanism.

Rajouri and Poonch districts were one of the main sufferers of 2014 floods with a bus full of Baratis getting washed away in Raipur Patta in Nowshera causing the death of 74 persons, while the total number of deaths in twin districts was above 100.

“In the month of October last year, flash flood was witnessed in Manjakote area of Rajouri but there was no forecast and people were not warned to remain cautious,” said Subash Chander, a resident of Thandikassi where loss of property was reported.

“We depend on weather forecasting of the entire Jammu and Kashmir even as we are living in a technologically advanced life and time has come to start district specific weather forecasting,” said Subash Chander.

Terming arrangements on the part of government authorities as poor in terms of disaster management, Mohammad Farooq Inqilabi, an activist from Budhal Rajouri, said that we are living in a mode of post disaster measures rather than prevention.

Raj Kumar, another activist from Nowshera, termed administrative preparations as minimal and said that administrative inertia and poor concern towards disaster management can be gauged from the fact that the bridge at Rajpur Patta where baratis’ bus got washed away in 2014 floods is yet to be repaired.

He added that even after this tragedy, the Border Roads Organisation managing the road is yet to raise the level of bridge which is still prone to such tragedies during flash floods.

“Every year, incidents of flash floods, landslides, shooting stones take place in Rajouri and Poonch but what the government does is to provide tents and ration to victims with no proper approach to have a long vision in disaster management,” said Mohammad Bakhtar from Poonch’s Surankote.

He added that government authorities should promote afforestation activities in the entire region besides strict prohibition of no construction zone near water bodies.

Deputy Commissioner Poonch Rahul Yadav said that a lot has been done on the disaster management front and the government is particular for this. “We have reserved five percent of our budget under SDRF for capacity building,” said the Deputy Commissioner adding that regular awareness camps and capacity building events on disaster management are being held in the district. “We now have Doplar radars which have increased efficiency in terms of weather forecasting,” he said.

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