Declare J&K floods a national calamity: Congress

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New Delhi, Sep 6: With the flood situation turning grim in Jammu and Kashmir and the death toll mounting to 100, Congress today demanded that it be declared a national calamity.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on phone and demanded immediate steps so that the stranded people are shifted to safer places more efficiently and effectively. He demanded that the floods be declared a national calamity.

The Prime Minister assured all possible help to the state in this hour of crisis after Azad, a former J&K chief minister, spoke to him from Srinagar and sought his personal attention in view of the "very grave and grim situation" prevailing in the entire state.

Azad requested the Prime Minister to immediately place funds at the disposal of the state government so that the rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations are carried out in an effective and co-ordinated manner. While appreciating the role of the armed forces in supporting the state governments in disaster situations like this, Azad sought immediate pressing of Air Force along with the Army on the analogy of Uttarakhand disaster so that the stranded people are shifted to safer places more efficiently and effectively.

The Congress leader said "extensive and largescale damage of unprecedented proportions" has occurred to public infrastructure like roads, bridges, drinking water systems, power distribution systems and private properties like houses, shops, vehicles and livestock due to the floods. He said the devastation has engulfed the entire state from Kathua to Leh, including Samba, Jammu, Doda, Reasi, Rajouri, Poonch, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Srinagar, and Baramulla.

It is beyond the capacity and resources of the state government to meet the challenges of the situation and so the flood should be declared a national calamity, he said. National Conference and Congress are in power in the state for the last six years, where Assembly polls are due soon. The two parties will be contesting the polls separately this time. Azad had visited the flood hit areas in Jammu and Srinagar yesterday.

The situation in the state continued to worsen today with the death toll mounting to 100 with rescuers struggled to evacuate thousands of people to safety as major rivers and streams were in spate due to incessant rains.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to take stock of the situation soon after arriving in Srinagar this morning. He, however, could not undertake an aerial survey due to inclement weather. 

PTI

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