Transfer of power in Jammu and Kashmir might be delayed because of the massive relief and rehabilitation efforts that are going on in the state after last Saturday's earthquake, which left more then 1200 people dead.
Speaking to rediff.com over the phone from her residence in Srinagar, Mehbooba Mufti, president of People's Democratic Party, said, "Why are you more interested in transfer of power? The chief minister is now busy in supervising the relief and rehabilitation efforts and there is no time to think about the transfer of power from People's Democratic Party to Congress in November."
Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had been made chief minister for three years and was due to hand over power on November 2. These were the plans prior to the earthquake.
Mehbooba said that the state government was short of 24,000 tents. "We have been able to accomodate people in 6000 tents so far and we need another 24000 but I am told that only 200 tents can be made daily in the entire country and they are being rushed here. Winter is setting in and the people cannot be left to fend for themselves," she said.
To overcome this difficulty the state government has decided to give Rs 1 lakh per family to put up temporary homes or repair existing ones.
"But our biggest challenge is to ensure that no commission is taken for the cheques to be distributed by field officers. We would take strict action against those who are found indulging in such malpratices. That is the reason we are not giving money in cash. The state government is deploying field officers for the job. I hope they do it with utmost sincerity," she said.
Mehbooba lamented that though the state and the Central governments took prompt action, the same cannot be said of the private sector. Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, have visited quake victims.
"The kind of response the private sector showed during the Gujarat earthquake is missing in Kashmir. I would appeal to the captains of Indian industries to come forward and help us in relief and rehabilitation work and adopt villages for reconstruction of quake-proof houses, like they did in Bhuj," she pleaded.
Ten remote villages near the Line of Control have been cut off from the rest of the valley, as an entire mountain has collapsed and big boulders are blocking the road.
"Over 1,50,000 people have been rendered homeless. Ten villages in Tangdhar have been cut off and, on Friday, we dropped relief supplies and tents for the people by helicopters. I have been reaching out to the people and listening to their complaints. It is huge tragedy for us and we are trying our best to address the complaints of the victims," she said.