Amid new floods, Jammu and Kashmir gets old dues

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New Delhi/Srinagar: At least 17 people were feared dead as a landslide swept through a remote village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district early on Monday, even as the Centre began clearing funds for relief operations for the September 2014 floods.

Officials said rescue and relief work was under way, and six bodies, including those of a 22-day-old baby and four women, were retrieved from beneath the debris.

The situation is grim particularly in the Valley, as the Jhelum and other rivers swelled on Sunday, forcing people to flee their homes. The weather office predicts further downpours till Saturday.

The J&K police said it had rescued 728 people caught in the flash floods or trapped in house collapses across the Valley in the past 24 hours. The Army, Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Management Force have been deployed to rescue people.

In September 2014, the Valley and parts of the state were hit by unprecedented floods, leaving at least 300 people dead and thousands of houses destroyed.

With the state plunging into crisis even before it has recovered from that deluge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday stepped in and readied release of twin flood relief packages to blunt criticism from the National Conference that the Centre was sitting on relief fund.

The Union home ministry is all set to dole out an immediate advance relief package of Rs 114 crore for rescue and operations. A total of Rs 248 crore was to be released by the Centre in June but the first instalment will be released in advance by Tuesday, top sources told this newspaper.

Another major financial package of $250 million, which is part of an external aid component funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, has been readied by the Centre for reconstruction and relief after last year’s floods.

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