Experts question tardy pace of work on flood mitigation programme

Slow pace of work on flood mitigation programme could prove disastrous for the summer capital Srinagar which witnesses an alarming rise in the level of water bodies each time there is rainfall for few hours, experts said on Sunday.

The much-needed dredging in Doodganga canal is yet to commence while major hindrances in smooth flow of water in river Jhelum Flood Spill Channel are yet to be removed even after the mitigation programme was started years ago.

The J&K High Court has already directed authorities to ensure cleaning and maintenance of water bodies including Doodhganga nallah, which is main source of drinking water for a huge chunk of population of Srinagar and Budgam districts.

Earlier this week, water level in Doodhganga rose above danger mark after two days of rainfall. “The water carrying capacity has reduced in this nallah as no de-siltation was carried in it for several years,” said an expert.

Similarly, the diversion channel of Doodhganga has also been ignored and de-siltation has not been carried in the recent past. Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department has maintained that it was working on diversion channel of Doodhganga to increase the carrying capacity of the channel. However, there is no visible progress on the ground.

“The areas adjoining the channel get inundated as and when the water is diverted in it. Recently, the water overflowed into Madina Colony,” said a local.

The 10-km long flood diversion channel starts from Machewa in Bag-e-Mehtab and traverses via Rawalpora, Peerbagh, Nadirgund, Narkara wetland, Bemina and connects with main Flood Spill Channel (FSC) in the outskirts of the city.

Similarly, three footbridges constructed on the channel are seen as major impediments to the smooth flow of water. These footbridges have been constructed from Bemina to Hajibagh stretch and are much lower to the height of embankments on either side.

“These bridges can prove disastrous as and when water level increases in Jhelum as they will minimize the discharge,” said the expert, adding the delay in execution of the flood mitigation programmes can lead to 2014-like situation when Kashmir was hit by a massive deluge.

The channel starts from Padshahibagh and flows into Wullar lake in Bandipora district. It regulates Jhelum water level while it passes through Srinagar.

I&FC Chief Engineer, Iftikhar Ahmad Kakroo said work on Under-construction Bridge at Sharefabad was almost complete. “It will take just few weeks now for completion while other bridges would be removed for smooth discharge of water,” he said.