Taming Rage Waters
It is a frightening situation in which things cannot be brushed aside. The reports that the Srinagar city awaits a major deluge in coming couple of years, submerging most of it, should not only be worrisome to the flood control organizations but also be a cause of great concern to the civil society. It should also put up the entire administration on toes, gear up for any eventuality from today only.
That the Jammu and Kashmir state has nothing in place to fend off the flashfloods in Kashmir valley is hugely disturbing. The Jammu and Kashmir Flood Control Ministry has issued a warning that the summer capital of the state is likely to face a major flood catastrophe in next five years and the department has no paraphernalia and wherewithal to save the human lives and property. The department is expecting a water discharge of around 15,00,00 cusecs if flood hits Srinagar city. The flash flood is feared to inundate not only the thousand year old city of Srinagar but all towns and village on the banks of the river Jhelum. The catastrophe is projected to take toll of all communication links connecting Kashmir Valley to the other parts of the world. That these can wash away Srinagar-Jammu highway and the Airport Road sounds terrifying.
It is good that the state government has timely sent a project report to the central government for preventing the city getting drowned and has sought assistance to the tune of Rs.2200 Crores from it. But it needs not wait idly for sanction from New Delhi. Knowing full well the history of Kashmir, which has had many devastating floods in the past causing lots of death and destruction, the state should immediately initiate from its available resources to build up a defense to this city. Truth of the matter is that lots of measures taken in the past for preventing floods, ravaging the city and other parts of the valley as well, have been rendered ineffective because of bad planning and wrong priorities. Many important tributaries that channeled the flood waters have been filled up. It is not only the Mar Canal that was filled up in seventies increasing threat to the city but many others as well, including the Dood Ganga , have fallen victim to the lack of vision of our planners. These water ways have been filled up and housing colonies raised on them. Hundreds of Kanals of government land on the banks of Dood Ganga continue to be mutated in favor of the private people by the officials of the revenue department even to this day. Most of the flood channels laid in the past stand flushed with the ground level for the lack of dredging from past more than thirty five years. The state government immediately needs to start dredging of these flood channels from its available resources. It also needs to clean up the tributaries of the river Jhelum.
Nonetheless people cannot bank entirely upon the government for preventing the floods. There is need for creating voluntary organizations that can play a substantial role in preventing the impending flashfloods. People can borrow a leaf from other societies that learnt to tame ‘angry waters’. The voluntary organizations besides removing silt from the river beds, can dig trenches on the river banks and create artificial wetlands.
To ensure flashfloods not inundating the city of Srinagar government need to immediately create a high level task force. Here government can seek expertise from countries having experience in managing flood disasters. The government besides impressing upon New Delhi for meeting its requirements needs also to plead before the international organizations for helping the state in saving the historic city.
It is relieving that New Delhi has already taken into consideration the project report of the state and has agreed to release Rs 109 Crores in March, but keeping in view the magnitude of the problem the amount would hardly meet the requirements of the state. The central government needs to release Rs 2200 Crores in full enabling the state to implement the flood preventing schemes in Kashmir valley to the fullest.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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