From Flowery City, Srinagar Turns 'stinking City'

17 September 2014

Srinagar: Once famous for its gardens and flowers, a still submerged Srinagar city now presents a grim and nauseating picture of the destruction caused by floods. Localities like Raj Bagh and Jawahar Nagar, once counted among the posh localities of Srinagar, remind of the havoc which began on September 7 night. The submerged debris, boundary walls, cars and other materials make it difficult for boats to enter the area for relief purposes. Many parts of the city have begun 'stinking' with pungent smell coming from all directions. 'Heaps of trash is decomposing. So are the carcasses of thousands and thousands of dead animals. Human excretion seeping out of septic tanks, is adding to the pungent smell,' said Farooq Ahmed, an employee of Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Aid workers are distributing masks among people to avoid the foul odour, but the masks do not help much. A large number of houses have collapsed and many are on the verge of collapse as floodwaters have weakened these structures. At many places across the city, stray dogs can be seen feeding on carcasses of dead animals. Many human corpses recovered by rescuers too have been feeded on by the dogs. 'We used to watch dogs eat dead animals and dead humans in only horror movies, not knowing that we will face the similar situation in our lives,' said Shezada, a rescue worker. He said that he along with his team recovered 13 bodies from the ruins of a collapsed house. With the absence of traffic police, local youth have been managing the traffic at various places. Water has not completely receded from the once bustling Lal Chowk locality, but many shopkeepers have managed to wade through the water to reach their shops to check the damage. 'Material lost is something which can be compensated, but we lost all our ledgers and accounts... the computer holding all our business accounts are washed away,' said Manzoor Ahmed a businessman. Relief and rehabilitation camps have been mushrooming across the city as people continue to gather for relief material and medical aid. People from nearby districts which were less affected by the flood have also set up camps at various places in the city to help the city's flood victims. The Jammu and Kashmir state administration admitted that restoration of the Srinagar city to its past glory is a herculean task as the exact extent of damage caused by the flood can be assessed only after the water completely recedes. 'Even after 12 days, the exact extent of the damage is unknown and people can only speculate. Apart from infrastructural damages, the damage to property, standing crop of apple, rice, walnut can only be calculated once these areas become accessible,' a senior officer of the Jammu and Kashmir government told PTI. On the embankment of the flood channel in Jawahar Nagar, residents watch helplessly the ongoing dewatering operation, not sure when they will be able to enter their abandoned houses again.