October 2006 News

Autumn Of Discontent In Valley

3 October 2006
The Hindustan Times

Uri: A year after an earthquake pum- melled Kashmir, the scars refuse to heal. The signs of disaster linger and the general mood is one of discontent. On October 8, a temblor measur- ing 7.6 on the Richter scale, epicen- tred 125 km off Srinagar near Muz- zafarabad, destroyed large parts of Uri, Tangdhar and Teethwal in Baramullah and Kupwara districts respectively. It claimed 1,400 lives on the Indian side and 75,000 across the border. The government announced a compensation package under which buildings were classified as 'fully and partially damaged.' While Rs 1 lakh each was sanctioned for houses razed to the ground, the partially-dam aged homes were allocated Rs 30,000 each. In addition, Rs 30,000 was sanc- tioned for the construction of temporary sheds and an incentive of Rs 5,000 announced for every family, who built their sheds on time. Official estimates cited 14,818 structures, including houses, gov- ernment buildings, places of wor- ship, schools and hospitals as 'ful- ly damaged' and 92,048 as 'partial- ly damaged'. The authorities, so far, have dis- bursed nearly Rs 187 crore in Bara- mulla district and Rs 50.03 crore in Kupwara. During his visit to Tangdhar and Teethwal recently, chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad instructed the administration to dis- tribute the remaining aid in one go. 'People affected by the earth- quake should be able to rebuild their homes before the onset of winter,' he told the authorities. But the prospect seems unlikely. 'What should have been done in April this year still remains a promise with winter round the cor ner,' villagers lamented. Resentment is simmering. Vil lagers have decided to observe Oc tober 8 as a black day and are rally ing against the government in pub lic places. They allege that relief and rehabilitation agencies have been partisan in aid distribution. Seventy-year old Mohammad Yousuf Bhat of Gharkote village said his house was 'completely damaged', but he was offered relief for 'partial damage'. 'I returned the cheque and demanded my due share. But till date, I have not received anything,' he told the Hindustan Times. The remains of his ruined house testify his claim. Residents of Gwalta, Nambla, Kamal Kote, Navanrunda and Dhani Syedain village in Uri also alleged discrimination in relief. 'The Gujjars have been given preferential treatment while the Pahadis and Kashmiri-speaking people were cold-shouldered,' said Arshad Hussain of Gwalta village. 'We were given free ration for three months, but nothing more. They government has been selective,' chorused Sikandar Shah and Mohammad Bashir Kataria of Kamal Kote. 'The State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) is probing the allegations and a departmental inquiry is underway,' sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Bashir Ahmad Dar said. Terrible temblor On October 8, 2005, an earthquake turned Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir into rubble. A year on, HT finds little has changed - people still live in tin sheds with winter staring them in the THE KILLER: An earthquake measuring 7.6 on Richter scale with its epicentre in Muzaffarabad in PoK hit Jammu and Kashmir . THE TARGET: Baramulla and Kupwara districts took much of the hit. The worst affected towns were Tangdar in Kupwara and Uri in Baramulla. 14,818 buildings were flattened in one stroke in Baramulla and 6,705 structures were damaged in Tangdar and Teethwal tehsils of Kupwara. THE TOLL: 1,400 died in Kashmir and 73,276 in PoK. 2.8 million were rendered homeless in Pakistan and 1,50,000 in J&K. The total damage was an estimated US $2.3 billion. The 200-year- old Moti Mahal fort in Poonch district, Kashmir, collapsed.


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