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JammuVictims of land sinking want Govt aid to rebuild shattered lives

Victims of land sinking want Govt aid to rebuild shattered lives


Tawi, Apr 28: Forced to leave their homes damaged due to land subsidence, the residents of Pernote village in this hilly district of Ramban in J&K are concerned about their future and want adequate compensation to rebuild their lives.

Over 58 houses in the village developed cracks since Thursday evening amid land sinking that left behind a trail of destruction, severely damaging four electricity towers, a receiving station and a section of the road connecting the Gool sub-division with the Ramban headquarters.

The land subsidence is still continuing amid incessant rains, also threatening over two dozen remaining houses, while hundreds of acres of agricultural land also suffered the brunt of the natural calamity, the cause of which is being investigated by geology experts.

The district administration has already relocated over 500 people to safer places and also started the assessment of damages on war-footing to facilitate speedy release of compensation to victim families under State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) norms.

The village, having a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus, saw people helping each other during the testing times.

“We lost everything in a matter of a few hours when cracks started developing in our homes on Thursday evening. We fled to save our lives, leaving everything behind,” Mohd Iqbal Katoch, a local resident, said.

Katoch, heading a family of eight, said as he returned home from work around 5 pm on Thursday, his children informed him about a one-and-a-half feet crack developing in their compound.

“I called my neighbour Deepak Kumar and we immediately shifted to safety,” he said.

Eleven-year-old Kartik Kumar, a Class 3 student, said all his school books and shoes were gone as they had to leave in a hurry after their house developed massive cracks.

“We have no extra clothes to wear,” he said.

Anju Devi, a middle-aged woman putting up at a relief camp inside the community hall at Maitra here, said it takes one's whole life to build a house and it is “very painful” when you see it collapsing before your eyes.

“We left with what we were wearing; rest had gone, swallowed by the earth,” Devi said as she urged the government to look into their plight and provide them land and money to rebuild their homes.

“We are concerned about the future of our children. We are farmers but nothing is left with us as our land has also gone,” she said.

Feroz Khan was all praise for the district administration for promptly responding to the crisis and providing all possible assistance to the affected families.

“The whole village is destroyed and the continuous rains over the past two days have further added to our misery. The radius of the damage is up to five kilometres,” Khan said, requesting the Centre and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to come forward and announce a comprehensive package for the affected population.

Ramban Deputy Commissioner Baseer-Ul-Haq Chaudhary, who is also Chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), said the first step in addressing the disaster was the evacuation of the people to safety to ensure no loss of life.

“There are 100 households that are directly or indirectly affected by the calamity. 58 houses have been completely damaged. We have relocated over 500 people to safer accommodation at three places,” Chaudhary said.

He said geology experts are camping in the village and they are collecting samples to know the exact cause of land sinking and will submit a report in a week.

The DC said an alternate road was made operational to connect the Gool sub-division to Ramban headquarters and the restoration of essential supplies, including electricity, is almost complete.

He said a strong 30-member Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team has joined the SDRF and local volunteers in providing a helping hand to the affected population to move to safer places.

The deputy commissioner, who has set up a camp office in the village to supervise the rescue and relief measures, said the district administration is taking care of the food and shelter of the victim families and all required steps will be taken to ensure their rehabilitation.

The villagers hailed the efforts of the DC in ensuring aid to the affected families and demanded that LG Sinha visited the village to take stock of the situation.

“We are thankful to the deputy commissioner who has been standing with us since the calamity struck the village. He ensured food, shelter and medicines… It is a very big tragedy and the LG should visit and assure us about our rehabilitation,” Khan said.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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