Waiting for the flood!
Kashmir has had a very severe winter after a long time. There have been plenty of snows on the mountains and the temperatures have been very low. On some days the temperatures were the lowest in last few decades. The snow must be frozen solid on the mountains. Apparently, there will be no water shortage in summer. However, the excessive snow melt coupled with just a few days of rain could once again result in a disastrous flood. Another contributory factor is the extremely slow implementation of the flood prevention measures suggested by various agencies. One of the most important measures was the dredging of the River and its Flood Spill-over channel. However, the project has been going on at a snail's pace and in some critical areas especially in the downstream stretches of the River there has either been no dredging or it is extremely tardy. This was clearly evident last year in June when we almost had another flood which luckily did not occur due to timely improvement in weather. At that time one could easily notice the very slow movement of water in the River because of no dredging having been undertaken in downstream areas between Wular Lake and Sopore-Baramulla stretch. Dredging in this area with a greater slope increases the speed of the flowing water. Incidentally, during Maharaja's time a dredger had been permanently stationed in this area. It used to dredge the river continuously so as to keep the flow fast. In fact, the legendary minister of King Avanti Varman, Hakim Suya also undertook most of the dredging in Sopore-Baramulla stretch of the River. The town Sopore earlier called Suya Pur is named after him. The former Governor had taken a personal interest in initiating flood prevention measures. He had held a number of high level meetings under his chairmanship. During his tenure a firm from Kolkata was engaged for dredging but they had to abandon the work due to problems with their dredgers. The time for dredging the River as well as Wular Lake is winter with the lowest water level. However, unfortunately, the work is not going on at the required pace even though the Irrigation and Flood Control authorities are claiming otherwise. Apart from dredging, the River banks need to be strengthened at the weak spots especially during its course through the city of Srinagar. There is still time. The authorities need to take a review of the whole project. Unfortunately, some people in authority are going for training and preparation for disaster management. However, disaster prevention is a better option than managing it if it occurs. If we succeed in preventing the occurrence of disasters, there will be no need for their management!