Flood situation unprecedented: J&K CM Omar Abdullah

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Srinagar, September 10: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abduallah, who is set to test his fate in the upcoming state assembly elections, has courted controversy, at the time when his state is hit by massive floods.

"I have no problem with the criticism... This criticism is from the people who survived," Abdullah said in an interview to news channel Times Now.

"Someone criticising my government from a relief camp means they have been rescued. Whether they were rescued in an army boat, NDRF boat, or state government boat, I am not concerned. My only concern is they are alive and I am grateful for it," he said.

"This is an unprecedented situation... There is no way we could have prepared for it. Operations are being cranked up, supplies are arriving and we are doing our best," he said.

On Tuesday, Omar described the floods that has devastated the state as the worst in 109 years.

Terming the flood situation in the flood-ravaged Kashmir Valley as "very serious", Omar Abdullah today said he understood the anger of the people affected by the "unprecedented" catastrophe.

The Chief Minister said there was no "weakness" in coordination between the forces on ground and the state government is working together with the armed forces. "I am in touch with the Army, the Navy and trying to make sure that the right stuff reaches the right place and we are able to achieve the stuff properly. We are not able to communicate with the people," he said. He said the main source of worry for him was the likely spread of diseases after the water level in flood-hit areas recedes.

On the situation on the ground, Omar said there has been a complete breakdown of communication in the state after the floods.

"Any communication with the outside world has been through the handful of satellite phones that we have. The backbone of the communication has been what the Army and IAF have set up. Cell phones, landlines and Internet services are completely down," he said.

The state chief minister said BSNL has flown in equipment and engineers to establish a temporary telephone exchange to enable communication with the rest of the world.

"At this point in time, we have multiple focus areas, in those areas where people are marooned, our effort is to try and rescue them using helicopters and boats. Where rescue is not possible due to various reasons, we are trying to drop supplies. At the same time, work on restoring communication is on," he said.

Omar said he has not been able to communicate with people and, "I have not been able to speak to 90 per cent of my Cabinet colleagues."

On allegations that the state government came into action only after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state, he said, "Actually we woke up long before he arrived. The PM didn't assume that such a situation would arise".

He said when the Prime Minister had arrived, the situation, though difficult, was under control and the present "unprecedented situation" developed only after the Jhelum river breached its bank and a large party of Srinagar city was under water.

Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was heckled in one of the relief camps in Srinagar.

Civil administration failure: Army personnel

A senior official of army told OneIndia that "army and NDRF teams are putting their best efforts in rescuing stranded people but no officials from the Civil administration are present here."

"There are some places where aircrafts cannot be landed. At those place, army needs Civil administration officials", he said.

Over 200 people have been killed in floods, landslides and house collapses triggered by torrential rains. Four lakh people still remain stranded.

OneIndia News

(With agency inputs)

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