Chaos In Srinagar, People Protest

27 September 2014
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: Chaos today prevailed in Srinagar city with long traffic jams as victims of flood fury blocked many city roads demanding government help for rebuilding their lives. Scores of residents, mostly women, of Maisuma, Koker Bazaar and adjacent localities near City Centre Lal Chowk, one of the worst his areas, blocked the Budshah Bridge over river Jhelum to protest against Government's failure to dewater these areas. The residents are aghast over Government's failure to de-water their areas even after three weeks have passed since floods inundated major parts of Srinagar. 'Our houses are still waterlogged and Government seems to be least bothered about our plight. Large numbers of houses have collapsed and others are unsafe. When will water recede and when will re-construction process start. We are worried about the winter', said Shameema, a resident of Maisuma. 'We have run out of patience as waters fail to recede. This is our immediate concern. After the waters recede we will decide about future course as what to do. At the moment, dewatering is the priority as everything else will start only after that,' said Shameema. The protesters wanted Deputy Commissioner Srinagar to visit these areas to take stock of the situation and make necessary arrangements for rebuilding lives of the people in Maisuma and Kukar Bazar areas. However, DC Farooq Shah, later visited the areas and protesters lifted the road blockade but not before sending entire city into chaos due to traffic jams. The protesters also blocked roads at Bemina, Barthana and Nehru Park and various other places of Srinagar city against Government's failure to reach out to these areas and address the problems faced by flood victims. Sanitation is the biggest issue in the inundated areas as large numbers of people are still living inside as they have nowhere to go. 'We are facing the problem of sanitation as garbage, rotten goods and sewage from toilets all is around us. Government is taking no steps to de-water our area and disinfect it', says Mohammad Yusuf of Bemina. 'We are forced to come out on roads to seek Government attention', he adds. The residents of the inundated areas seek dewatering, relief material like blankets, ration and medicines, and demand rehabilitation ahead of winter. 'We have been the worst hit and we have not received a grain of ration. All we hear is that relief material has been distributed. Who gave the relief and who received it?' says Hajra, a woman from interior Bemina locality. The blockade at various places in city left thousands of commuters stranded in long traffic jams for hours together. The commuters accused the Traffic Police of making mess of traffic at a time when relief and rehabilitation material is being transported. Says Javed Ahmad: 'The local volunteers who were managing traffic for the first 10-12 days of the disaster when police was in hibernation, traffic management was better. Majority of the roads were inundated at that time and lot of relief material was being transported through lanes and by-lanes of the city but there were no such traffic jams as local boys were regulating traffic in a better way.'