Srinagar: The J&K government has to pay Rs. 650 crores to Indian Air Force (IAF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the rescue operations they carried out and the relief material distributed during the recent floods in Kashmir.
According to a report published by Rising Kashmir, a bill of over Rs. 650 crores has been drafted in Delhi and verbally communicated to the state government through official channels.
“However, the state government has not received the hard copy of the bill so far,” sources said, the paper reported.
They said the bill also includes charges for food items dropped from the choppers and for the boats that were used during the rescue operations.
The disclosure of this bill was discussed in a meeting of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah with traders prior to their road show protest to press for their demands to expedite rehabilitation process.
Citing official sources, the paper quoted that, “during the meeting, the CM disclosed that the bill has been prepared by IAF and NDRF for their relief efforts in the valley.”
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khanday said they haven’t received any such bill so far.
However, he added: “I don’t have any information about it yet, but anyways we have to pay the bill as per the procedure.”
Khanday said it was on the recommendation of the state government that services of IAF and NDRF were availed at the time of disaster to be paid for from the funds of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
“Whenever IAF and NDRF services are availed by any state at the time of disaster, they have to be paid from the treasury of state’s SDRF,” said Khanday.
Earlier, the central government came under criticism for allegedly dropping expired food items from the choppers in the name of relief.
“It is a cruel joke, first they provide us expired food items and now they are charging for it,” a trader said requesting anonymity.
The development has come at a time when flood victims are desperately seeking financial package for their rehabilitation.
It has also infuriated the business community which has been badly affected in the floods.
“It is an irony that instead of sending relief package for the revival of Kashmir, Centre is sending such kind of bills,” said another businessman.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had announced Rs. 1000 crore relief package for J&K along with Rs. 320 crore State Disaster Relief Fund, but the affected families have not been paid so far.