High snowfall in winter poses flood risk

With Kashmir recording highest snowfall in the last two decades this winter, the administration has geared up to face any eventuality that may arise anytime due to rising water levels.

According to a note of the ‘minutes of a meeting’ chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, all the departments have been impressed upon to fully gear up men and machinery to deal with any eventuality.

A senior official who was part of the meeting said that the administration had initiated a slew of measures including ordering demolition of 612 “identified encroachments” along the Jhelum and its tributaries, and asking the Irrigation and Flood Control department to keep ready sandbags at vulnerable spots in view of increasing precipitation level in Kashmir.

“There is no panic, but it is better to be prepared,” an official said.

He said there was a clear cut direction from the administration that there should be no delay in removing the encroachments identified. “We have asked for demolition even during lockdown period.”

To strengthen weak spots along the rivers and tributaries, the government has kept ready 12.6 lakh sandbags and 80,000 Geo bags at different locations. Mobile Apps have also been developed for real time information.

Irrigation and Flood Control department (I&FC) has installed nine Automatic Water Level Recorders (WLRs) along the Jhelum at Sangam, Pampore, Ram Munshi Bagh & Asham and its major tributaries including Sind, Lidder, Doodganga, Vaishaw & Rambiar, besides Automatic Rain Gauges at different locations.

Pertinently, post-2014 floods which devastated properties worth an estimated Rs 1 lakh crore in Kashmir, the government of India had sanctioned a comprehensive flood management plan under Prime Minister Development Package.

The plan was aimed to increase the water carrying capacity of the Jhelum from Sangam to Padshaibagh to 60,000 cusecs from present 31800 cusecs. The water carrying capacity of the Flood Spill Channel at off-take Padshahibagh was to be increased to 17000 cusecs from existing 4000 cusecs.

Similarly, at Ningli in Wular it was to be increased to 30931 cusecs from current 20,000 and at Sopore, the Jhelum’s carrying capacity was to be increase to 61110 cusecs from existing 31,000.