Srinagar/Jammu: Seven months after witnessing the worst ever floods in a century, Jammu and Kashmir is bracing to battle yet another deluge. The state is in panic as several areas of the Valley and parts of Jammu are flooded following incessant rains in the last couple of days. Till now seventeen people are believed to have lost their lives.
Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said there was no reason to panic and the government is monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir very closely.
He said, "The Centre is keeping a close look on the situation. The Centre has always been liberal in both financial and logistical support."
Meanwhile, armed forces have launched a rescue operation by deploying 20 columns in the state and have kept helicopters on the standby. "The Army has placed 20 flood relief columns ready to react and deploy at short notice", Public Relation Officer (PRO), Defence (Northern Command), Col SD Goswami said. One Army column consists of 75 to 100 troops.
"Due to incessant rains and rising levels of water above danger levels at Sangam and Ram Munshi Bagh, Indian Army was formally requisitioned for aid to civil authorities for floods for Srinagar District from Civil Administration on the evening of March 30", Col Goswami said.
In addition, various flood relief stores have been setup and equipment keot ready along with 30 BAUTS (Boat Assault Universal Type) for deployment at short notice, he said.
Eight teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are also in the Kashmir Valley.
Promising all help, the Central government granted Rs 200 crore as immediate relief. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and to coordinate with state authorities.
While making the announcement about the Centre's grant, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said in the Assembly that the state government had sanctioned Rs 25 crore for Kashmir and Rs 10 crore for Jammu region which has also been affected by floods.
The Chief Minister expressed grief over burying alive of six persons in a house collapse at village Laden in Chadoora in Budgam district, following incessant rains that have lashed Kashmir valley for the last few days.
Due to heavy rains over the past 36 hours, river Jhelum was flowing above the danger mark at several places including Sangam in Anantnag district and Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar.
Flood water entered several low-lying areas of Kashmir, including capital Srinagar, leading to panic among the locals for whom memories of the devastating deluge only seven months back are fresh in mind.
Over 280 people had died and tens of thousands left homeless and property worth hundreds of crores damaged in unprecedented floods in the state in September last year.
Incessant rains over the past 36 hours in Kashmir has caused landslides at many places while people from many areas vulnerable to floods have been evacuated to safer places.
More than 320 families have been moved to safer places in Kashmir valley as water level in river Jhelum was still above the flood level.
Over 250 families were shifted to safer places on Sunday and 80 more families were evacuated on Monday, police said. More than 200 structures including 176 houses have developed cracks due to land sinking in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
There has been no rain on Monday but Met department predicted heavy rainfall at isolated places in the state over the next few days.
Three control rooms have been set up with the Chief Minister along with a team of Ministers monitoring the whole situation in the Valley and supervising the administrative response to safeguard life and property of people.
The 294-km Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the only road link between Kashmir and rest of the country, remained closed for the third straight day as heavy downpour caused fresh landslides.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voiced hope that authorities will take adequate steps to help the people.
"We don't want to play politics on the situation. It has been only seven months and once again the people are face to face with another tragedy," he said.
(With additional information from PTI)