Flood Mitigation Plan

The State Governor recently chaired a high level meeting to review status of Jhelum protection works and response mechanism. The officers informed him about the progress of various works. However, the emphasis has been on the response mechanism rather than on the most urgent and the basic requirement of flood prevention in future. The last flood in 2014 was the most disastrous in almost a century. That flood vividly demonstrated that any amount of preparations would be of no use as it is impossible to predict the extent and the devastative force of such floods. Of course one has to be prepared to face any eventuality but the moot point is why not to take possible measures to avoid such floods in future. Well, the Central Water Power Commission had prepared a comprehensive plan through the concerned agencies for total mitigation of the future floods. The plan was in phases and as per the information given in the meeting the phase I has been almost completed. The phase II is yet to be sanctioned by the Central Water Power Commission. Five years have elapsed since the last flood. It had been given out in the State Assembly in writing in response to question asked by a member that the implementation of the various phases of the flood prevention project is being taken on war footing. Forget the phase II which is the most important part of the project, even the phase I has not been implemented as envisaged in the plan. Discussing plans in a meeting hall and watching power presentations is different than seeing the progress on the ground. Just a visit along the banks of the flood spill over channel from its start would show what type of haphazard dredging has been done! The dredging is not only taking out earth or sand but it has to give a gradient to ensure faster flow of water. In fact, the entire Jhelum from Sangam to Baramulla needs to be given a gradient enabling faster flow of water. Apart from this all the flood basins of the River need to be reclaimed and cleared. Same holds good for the water bodies which have totally disappeared due to encroachment. Now that the government appears serious about implementing various flood mitigation plans, it is imperative that a high level committee preferably under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary is constituted to monitor the progress of the plan at least on a monthly basis. In the alternative some relevant consultancy could be hired to monitor the progress on the ground on a time bound basis. In fact, the Civil Society also needs to get involved to ensure monitoring of various plans on the ground. In the meantime, one has to pray that similar climatic condition do not develop which resulted in 2014 flood though the chances of that happening are frighteningly high due to global climate change!