JK approaches ISRO for 'flood zoning' of Kashmir

JK approaches ISRO for 'flood zoning' of Kashmir

The zoning of flood plains would identify vulnerable spots in the Valley and help authorities plan flood management in a better way.

The J&K Government has approached the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to carry out flood zoning of Kashmir which was hit by a devastating deluge in September 2014.

The zoning of flood plains would identify vulnerable spots in the Valley and help authorities plan flood management in a better way.

“We have approached the ISRO for undertaking flood zoning of Kashmir. They have told us that the process will be completed in one year,” said Chief Engineer, Flood Control Department (Kashmir), JavedJaffer.

Kashmir has a history of floods but failure of the State Governments to zone the flood plains in the Valley has resulted in haphazard and unplanned growth of residential colonies and commercial establishments along river Jhelum, other water bodies and flood basins which added to the devastation during the last year’s deluge.

Jaffer said the satellite technology-based flood-zoning by ISRO that would also use last year’s flood data, would divide Valley into three zones—most vulnerable areas which are construction free, vulnerable areas where construction has already taken place and the zones safe for construction.

“It will help us plan constructions in future and also ensure better flood management,” said Jaffer.

Given Kashmir’s susceptibility to floods, the Government of India’s Standing Committee on water resources had some years ago recommended to the State Government to frame flood zoning act and undertake the process of Flood Plain zoning and regulation of Flood Plains. Sources however said J&K, along with some other states, reported difficulties in enactment of the legislation and enforcement of laws due to constraints of evacuation of people who have settled in flood plains and their settlement elsewhere due paucity of land.

Earth scientist Prof ShakeelRomshu said Jhelum River which originates from south Kashmir and flows through Srinagar before entering Wullar Lake in north Kashmir has a total basin area of 15600 sq km out of which only 1500 sq km comprises of flood plains.

“This vulnerable area needs to be zoned. However the Government should first assess the flood vulnerability as some areas on either side of Jhelum are low-lying where the flood level was above 20 feet during the September flood,” said Romshu.

As per the official data, Kashmir has been hit by at least 10 floods in the past one century. The devastating flood in first week of September 2014 resulted after a week-long rainfall that caused Jhelum to swell and breach its embankments. The Valley’s housing and business sectors suffered colossal losses and as per Government estimates the losses in private and public sector were over Rs one lakh crores.