As the devastation caused by the unprecedented flooding in Jammu and Kashmir continues to traumatise thousands of people who have lost their homes, loved ones and become refugees in their own homes, Rotary and Rotarians are reaching out — opening their purses and hearts — to the affected people.
Rotary Foundation India Chair Ashok Mahajan is spearheading the efforts to collect funds and relief material to be rushed to the people of J&K.
Even though at these trying times Rotarians have proved that “Rotary Cares and Rotary Shares,” and contributions have been widespread and generous, the amount collected is not enough as the scale of the destruction is so huge and people are still marooned and stranded away from their homes, says Mahajan.
The good samaritans of District 3140 are leaving no stones unturned to ensure that a steady supply of enough funds and relief material is available to help the ravaged people of Jammu and Kashmir, with District 3070 also pitching in. The two Districts are working in tandem to understand the scale of the disaster, the kind of help required and what more needs to be done.
Rotarians from across the country are also pitching in with their support. Relief material collected by Rotarians has been consistently reaching the State. Rtn B.R. Malhotra from Rotary Club of Pune in RI District 3131 has sent blankets, utensils, food; Rotarians from 3140 have sent 10,000 blankets to J&K (5,000 each); RC Bombay Queen’s Necklace has dispatched medicines worth Rs 12 lakh through the Red Cross.
Generous individual contributions are coming in too. Rtn Shammin Botwala of Rotary Mumbai Green City has contributed Rs 5 lakh. PDG Sajjan Goenka and PDG T.N. Subramaniam (District 3140), Rtn Samir Jhaveri of RC Bombay Bayview and Rtn B.M. Shivraj of RC Thane NorthEnd have each donated Rs 1 lakh. Rtn Sandeep Agarwalla of RC Bombay has led the collection efforts and raised Rs 6 lakh though a club meeting organised for J&K Flood fundraiser, and took the responsibility of delivering 10,000 blankets.
“We appreciate their generosity. We are also very touched that the Interact Club, which is working along with the Rotary Club of Bombay, has taken such pains to collect funds for the affected people of J&K,” says Mahajan. On their own, the Interactors have raised Rs 22 lakh to help in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Small but significant contributions have been coming in from across the district and in the meetings Mahajan addressed in Mumbai. He added that PRID Y.P. Das and PRID Shekhar Mehta also took immediate steps for sending shelter boxes and had offered more help to the Jammu region of the State. Many clubs and districts are directly sending relief material and money to District 3070. Governor Gurjeet Singh Sekhon of District 3070 has taken great care in managing the relief work.
“The scale of destruction this natural calamity has brought about is not just in the numbers, but also on the faces of those who survived the ones who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, their belongings and above all, hope,” he adds.
It may take long to rebuild Kashmir, but “I am hopeful that with individual endeavour, the collective contribution of our countrymen, Rotarians, and the resilient spirit of people in Jammu and Kashmir, the paradise, Inshaallah, will bloom again with Chinar trees. On our part, Rotary is willing to extend more help,” adds Mahajan.
Please send your cheques drawn in favour of District Welfare Fund (A/C J&K Disaster Relief Fund), to District Treasurer, Hemant Gokhale, Heramb Bunglow, Plot No. 57, Sulabh CHS, Tadwadi, Ambernath East, 421501.
J&K Rotarians swing into action
Huge areas of Akhnoor, Rajouri and people living on embankments of Jammu and Tawi were badly affected by the floods. Houses, livestock, schools and other infrastructure were devastated and thousands rendered homeless in just a few days. Some areas were completely buried under landslides triggered by incessant rains, 50 bridges were washed away and numerous power stations and pump houses lay submerged. “Jhelum breached the embankments and flooded the bowl-shaped Srinagar and people had to climb on to the rooftops of their houses to save themselves, after suffering huge losses,” says DG Gurjeet Sekhon, District 3070.
Rotary has 11 clubs in Jammu region and one in the Kashmir Valley. They appealed for help to the larger Rotary world in India. “Many of them rushed to help us. The first truck was loaded by PRID Yash Pal Das from Ambala, carrying 200 shelter boxes and 500 tarpaulins. This was followed by clubs from Amritsar which sent 10 tonnes of relief material in the form of blankets, medicines, tents and utensils.” Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Khanna, Ludhiana, Goraya, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot sent truckloads of relief and many clubs from the district sent cash contributions.
Help came from as far as Kerala, Kolkata and Pune, with materials delivered through railways, trucks and by air. Rotarians in Jammu identified beneficiaries and personally delivered aid to them. “We set up a storage unit in Jammu in a Rotarian’s house; material aid worth Rs 75 lakh has already been distributed in the State thanks to help from Rotarians,” says a grateful Sekhon.
PRIP Raja Saboo, PRIDs Sushil Gupta, Yash Pal Das, Shekhar Mehta and Ashok Mahajan provided tremendous material and financial support, he added.
The RI leaders are now considering the possibility of adopting one or two villages in J&K, build low-cost structures and other infrastructure there. This is estimated to cost Rs 2 crore for each village, says Sekhon.