Few hours of rains prove dearer to Srinagar economy

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday said the frequent water logging due to torrential rains is causing huge losses to Srinagar’s economy as all sort of businesses and tourist activity gets adversely impacted by water logging in the city.

Addressing a press conference, president, KCCI, Sheikh Ashiq said Thursday’s rains inundating parts of the summer capital had resulted in Rs 150- Rs 200 crore losses to the business community.

“We received hundreds of distress calls from traders complaining that water entered their shops and business establishments. It is unfortunate that shopkeepers had to do de-watering throughout the day. Few hours of rains caused a body-blow to Srinagar making trade suffer Rs 150 – Rs 200 crore losses in just a day as water has seeped inside shops damaging goods worth crores,” said Ashiq.

Ashiq blamed successive governments for their failure in formulating an efficient drainage system in the summer capital. The KCCI president said present-day administration needs to respond on how funds worth thousands of crores earmarked under Prime Minister’s Development Package and World Bank funding for development of Srinagar city have been spent.

“We urge Governor Satya Pal Malik and his administration to bring clarity on the issue of drainage and flood-control measures that have been taken up so far. We project Srinagar as a must-visit place for tourists but once they come here and witness such scenes of water-logging, we feel we have let them down,” said Ashiq. “There is so much of fund allocation and several tenders floated but the end result on the ground is nil. There is no infrastructure development when it comes to tackling flooding,” says Ashiq.

Ashiq said the chamber on several occasions has raised the issue of flooding and water-logging with higher authorities in the state administration but with no result.

“Dredging of Jhelum, de-silting and increasing carrying capacity of Wullar have all been a scam. We formed an expert committee on the issue of flood prevention and submitted its views with the government but to no avail,” said Ashiq. Ashiq said drainage is missing in most of the areas and wherever it is present is outdated. “The need of the hour is to have an upgraded drainage system. “We have been promised so many amenities under Smart City but the way few hours of rainfall has inundated the entire city is shocking,” Ashiq said.

Ashiq stated that de-watering measures such as those witnessed on Thursday was a temporary solution. “The buck lies with the Housing and Urban Development Department and the civic body of the city who have failed to draft policies on developing civic amenities. One wonders what will be our condition if there is a continuous rainfall of 4-5 days,” Ashiq said. “This sort of callousness is unacceptable to the business community which is yet to come to terms from 2014 floods. We need solutions and that too permanent ones so that this frequent menace of water logging especially of the city center is addressed once for all,” he said.