Implement Flood Management Plan

The clearance of Rs 399-crore flood management plan by the central government should bring the state into action towards its implementation. There is no scope for any further delay in undertaking the dredging of the Jhelum, making the existing flood channel fully functional and increasing the carrying capacity. In the backdrop of worst ever floods that Kashmir saw in a century, in 2014, a government of India panel in its report had said that topography of Kashmir made it vulnerable to deluges. Highlighting certain factors that exacerbated the flood situation in Kashmir, the report had by and large endorsed the concerns expressed time and again by the local experts and ecologists vis-a-vis the fall in the carrying capacity of river Jhelum and its outfall channel. It is unfortunate that 1986 onwards no dredging has been carried out in the outflow channel resulting into the reduction in its carrying capacity from 17000 cusec to 3531 cusec. Similarly, no effective steps were taken to increase the flow velocity in the 96 kilometre Sangum-Wular mild slope stretch of river Jhelum. The panel had made a number of suggestions of short-term and long-term nature. Now that the plan has been approved by the central government, the state needs to implement these suggestions at a war-footing. In the first instance it should plug all the breaches of river Jhelum and restore the sections of embankments. There is also a burning need to revisit the design of existing embankments and provide for their appropriate raising/strengthening. Since the water level in Jhelum at present is manageable, government should immediately start drudging at full scale to increase the carrying capacity of the river and the outfall channel which accumulated a lot of silt in the wake of September floods. In the long term as has been suggested by the report the state government should go for creation of storage facilities on tributaries of Jhelum, flood plain zoning and enhancing capacity of Wular lake. However, when it comes to creation of storage facilities regard must be had to the fact that the region falls in the seismic zone V. And last but not the least, construction of an alternate flood channel would really prove useful to prevent floods in Kashmir and the government should again approach the centre to get adequate finances for it.

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