More hurdles for flood victims

More hurdles for flood victims
 
   

Even two weeks after the flood water started receding in flood-ravaged Kashmir valley and some parts of Jammu, the state government has miserably failed and is yet to come to grips of the administrative set up that is supposed to provide some relief and succour to the badly affected people. Citizens in majority of the flood affected areas are without shelter, no rations, no medical assistance and above all no one to make an assessment of the extensive losses suffered by many people. The tall claims of the state government of having geared up its men and machinery to provide rations, medical supplies and shelter to homeless are proving hollow. On the part of central government, all claims of having sent relief materials to the flood affected people are nothing more than announcements by the prime minister and other ministers after they have concluded their visits to Jammu and Kashmir. Government offices from where the administrative officers have to function are lying in shambles.

The announcements of the government of having constituted teams of revenue, police and other departmental officials to facilitate issuance of important documents to the people at their door-steps after they have been lost in the floods are yet to take effect on the ground. The claims of the state government of having exempted goods meant for relief and rehabilitation free from all sorts of taxation are nowhere to be seen on the ground. The allegations of corruption and harassment of NGOs, self-help groups and all those carrying relief and rehabilitation material to J&K at Lakhanpur and other check posts by revenue and taxation officials are continuously pouring in but no action appears to have been initiated against them. The corrupt officials continue to hold up, extract money and harass the relief couriers not only at Lakhanpur but also enroute Kashmir with full impunity. The complaints appear to have fallen on deaf ears of the state government and its agencies.

So far as taxation officials and insurance companies are concerned, both the major components continue to ask people to produce valid identity proofs and other documents for seeking exemption from taxation authorities for relief and rehabilitation materials brought in from outside J&K. This is happening despite the announcements of the state government that taxation departments will not ask for any FIRs or other reports from the business houses for the goods that are already lying in their godowns or the material lost in transit for the purpose of calculating VAT on such goods. The insurance companies are also playing hide and seek with the flood hit survivors, who have lost their kith and kin, apart from the documents they had in the form of insurance cover notes, polices or other related documents for lodging claims. Instead of facilitating the claims of people in the event of loss of a family member, the companies are creating hurdles by asking for relevant documents which are usually required during normal circumstances.

Most of the flood victims and their survivors do not possess a single document except for the fact that they remember the name of the company. The insurance companies have refused to obey the directions of the High Court wherein it has been directed that the former would be obliged to give 95 percent of the claim amount up to Rs 25 lakh and 50 percent above the claim amount of Rs 25 lakh. The companies need to at least provide support forms and policy numbers to the insurers for facilitating the payment of claims. Insurance companies earn their profits from denying claims to the victims and the families and they appear to be using the same tactics in this hour of grief for the people of Kashmir and Jammu region. This is being adopted as a tactic by the companies even when reports of recovery of more bodies are pouring in from different parts of the state. An element of compassion is the need of the hour for all those connected with providing relief to the flood survivors in J&K.