Dredging Pace Quickens!

During the recent increased volume of water in June it was observed that the flow of the water has got considerably slowed down.

Recently the Secretary Irrigation and Flood Control publicly expressed displeasure regarding the slow pace of dredging in the flood spill over channel. He had earlier given a detailed interview to the newspaper regarding government plans for flood prevention which includes dredging, strengthening embankments and so on. He had also stated that due to the slow pace of work by various agencies to which the task had been tendered out, the department would take up the job on its own. Reportedly, the same has been done. However, keeping in view the nature of the task and the amount of silt which has been collecting for decades, the pace would need to be accelerated by employing more men and machinery. Reportedly, the excavated silt and earth has to be taken out during night due to traffic restrictions on movement of trucks during day. The traffic department should relent in view of the urgency connected with flood prevention. The most important factor is the time constraint. Winter months when the water level is low, the flood channel remains virtually dry. This is the time to excavate the silt and mud. The other important factor for flood prevention is to clean up the flood basins which too have been either silted up or even encroached upon. The worst example is the Wular Lake which at one time was considered to be the second largest sweet water lake in Asia. Other flood basins have been converted into built up areas by the private encroachers as well as by the government itself. Ironically, the office of the Srinagar Development Authority supposed to oversee the proper and orderly development of the city has itself been constructed in the River’s flood basin. During the recent increased volume of water in June it was observed that the flow of the water has got considerably slowed down. The reason for this is absence of dredging in the outflow from the Wular Lake between Sopore and Baramulla. The speed of water in that area needs to be appreciably improved as used to be done in the Maharaja’s time for which a dredger had been permanently stationed in that area. Lastly, one needs to strengthen the embankments especially at the weak points which saw many breaches in 2014 flood. In fact, in weak areas one may have to go for reinforced cement concrete bunds. The overflow of the water over some of its banks in the city may not cause such havoc as was caused by massive breaches. This aspect too needs attention. One could also consider using of boulder crates instead of sand bags in weak areas depending upon expert opinion. Let us hope that with the increased attention and involvement of higher authorities we will be safe from future nightmares!