Whenever there is a talk about floods in Kashmir it is invariably in the background of the 2014 September floods. It is bound to be so, as the scale of devastation was never known before. When the news about J&K tying up with a UK based Space Agency programme for flood forecasting reaches a common man, it immediately takes the mind to that September floods and the devastations it caused. Pertinent to mention here is that before that terrible flood there were many voices that raised the issue. Greater Kashmir in one of its issue had given a detailed account of the devastation that a flood could cause if it hit Srinagar city. But none paid any heed, and the consequences were for all of us to face later.
Now that the concerned authorities are taking the matter to a level where a detailed forecasting would be available, it is time we get really serious about disaster preparedness. Needless to say that it is always better to prepare for any disaster than to mange its effects after it strikes. It means that all those factors that contribute to floods need to be mapped, and then one by one taken care of. In our case some of the factors are too obvious to be missed. In fact after the 2014 floods we should have been more careful about this, but the case is the exact revers of it. The way we have been raising structures, both residential and commercial, contribute significantly to the problem. The way our wetlands are shrinking is a recipe for disaster. We cannot stop the rains from coming. What we can do is to enhance the capacity of out water bodies to hold that extra water. But the condition of our water bodies and the pattern of our markets and residential areas defeats sense in this case. While we tie up with global agencies to equip ourselves to fight any disaster like situation, it is time to draw from the perennial wisdom. Government must make arrangement for ordered housing colonies, and commercial spaces. At the same time the revival and retrieval of the wetlands must become a priority.