Freak weather, ominous signs

Greater Kashmir

Stop mining of soil from Karewas and instead give contracts to private companies to de-silt the flood spill channels

Plenty of recent global studies on the linkage between natural disasters and economic deceleration show that investment in preparedness and prevention costs much less than that in post-disaster response. Kashmir’s ongoing freak weather has become a cause of deep anxiety.

Unusually high precipitation, almost-daily cloud bursts and flash floods in a season generally known for modest rains are matters of grave concern. If this pattern persists, as what experts seem to suggest, another devastating flood similar to the one witnessed in September last year, could be only a matter of time. The worst thing is that there is hardly any serious preparedness happening at the governmental level to avert a 2014-like situation. Dredging and de-silting of the most vulnerable parts of the Jhelum and the flood spill channels have to be the topmost priority to enhance their water absorption capacity.

Lack of preparedness for devastating natural disasters wash off decades of efforts in economic and social development across the world every year. The government has to treat this as its top priority – bulldoze whatever procedural and bureaucratic wrangling is inhibiting dredging and de-silting of the Jhelum and the flood spill channels.

The law of probability – considering all the negative factors that come into play – may suggest that there is a significant possibility of another flood in autumn or even earlier. In the given circumstances only a large scale dredging and de-silting of the Jhelum and the flood spillways could reduce the probability of enhanced discharge spilling over the bunds and drowning the valley, particularly the Srinagar city, again. This is no rocket science, and, therefore, has to be initiated without losing any further time.

What could also speed up the process of de-silting is stop mining of soil from Karewas and instead give contracts to private companies to de-silt the flood spill channels – something that could earn good revenue to the government. It is time to act with urgency and focus. Any further delay could unleash unimaginable devastation.