J&K govt's response to flood was inadequate: Jaitley

 Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the state government's response to the flooding in Jammu and Kashmir was "inadequate and highly delayed".

Srinagar: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the state government's response to the flooding in Jammu and Kashmir was "inadequate and highly delayed".

Jaitley, however, was quick to add that instead of delving into the past he would rather look at future in terms of providing better quality of life to the survivors of the natural calamity that struck the state in first week of September.

"The flood was a huge natural tragedy. The suffering of the tragedy multiplied manifold because the response from those who were to deal with the situation was inadequate and highly delayed. Innocent people lost their lives, people have lost their properties, careers, investments and houses," the BJP leader said during an interaction with members of civil society organised by his party here.

"Having said that, let me not look back, I will look ahead. Every tragedy teaches a lesson and the lesson is that the tragedy that uproots the people brings tears but a stage comes when we have to stop crying and for the future of the survivors, they are to be given a quality of life which is better than what they had before the tragedy," he said.

Jaitley cited the example of rehabilitation work undertaken in Gujarat, where earthquake caused large-scale devastation.

"There was widespread devastation but in a record time, cities were again set up and buildings reconstructed. It was rewarded with United Nations award for rehabilitation.

"Just extending the routine help and after six or eight months, people will sell their lands or arrange money from other sources, I don't think this will work," he said.

Replying to another question, the Union Finance Minister said the request for financial assistance submitted by the state government for rehabilitation of flood victims will be dealt with under the norms.

"The state puts forth its claim. It is assessed and accordingly grant is given. We will take a sympathetic view of the losses due to floods in Jammu and Kashmir," he added.

Jaitley refused to go into specifics due to the Model Code of Conduct being in force in the state, where five-phase Assembly polls are in progress.

On the plans for rehabilitation, he said there was no reason why "India's most beautiful city" (Srinagar) cannot be turned into a Super Smart city.

"We are a national party and we have a vision of rehabilitation for the country. If we can dream of creating 100 smart cities, why cannot we create a super smart city in India's most beautiful city (Srinagar)," he said.

Jaitley said while there was world class tourism infrastructure in Kashmir, any incident disturbing the peace does not allow the place to reap benefits of tourism.

"There is world class tourism infrastructure here (in Kashmir) but even if one bullet is fired, we do not get the benefit (of tourism). There should be an atmosphere of peace. The future generation of Kashmir is aspirational. We have spoilt many generations, let us spare the coming ones," he said.

Jaitley said the time has come that Jammu and Kashmir gets a national mainstream government and expressed hope that the high voter turnout in the first two phases of elections was a step towards it.