Why do Srinagar drains overflow with every spell of rain or snow?

Why do Srinagar drains overflow with every spell of rain or snow?

The drainage system of Srinagar is so choked with silt from years that a few hours of rain or snowfall make roads in the capital city look like rivulets. 

Most drains in the capital city have not been de-silted from years, seriously reducing their carrying capacity.

Inconvenience caused to multitudes of people and losses to businessmen every time it rains might prompt authorities for selective dewatering of roads, but the worsening long-term problem of choked drains doesn’t seem to worry them. 

The existing drainage system has not been de-silted for years. 

After the devastating floods of 2014, the already bad drainage system went worse due to further accumulation of silt that came with the deluge, resulting in frequent water logging in the city.

“Silt is the heavier matter that sinks and inevitably collects at the bottom of a drain. If not extracted regularly, the silt will solidify, hardening into a rock-like substance and reducing the flow capacity of the drainage system,” said an expert.

In various city market areas of Srinagar, shops have been affected as water and sewage pools up in front of shops every time there is a downpour. 

Hari Singh High Street and Regal Chowk are examples of worst water logging in the city.

“Authorities must wake up. They must repair or reconstruct the drainage system,” said Abdul Majid, a shopkeeper at Hari Singh High Street.

Seconding him, Umar Ahmad, salesman said that existing drain is full of silt, choking the flow of water.

Residents at Sheikh Dawood Colony Batamaloo said as the drains aren’t de-silted and cleaned for years, it has solidified over the years and blocked the drains, causing backflow. 

“Several appeals to SMC (Srinagar Municipal Corporation) went unheard,” said a resident, Manzoor Ahmad Chicha, adding that SMC workers sometimes come and fix the matter temporarily. 

“In fact this drain was constructed few years ago but was left midway. The drainage line need de-siltation and completion,” Chicha added.

Powerful pumps are required to remove the garbage and silt in the drains so that sewage makes its way towards exit points.

In Downtown Srinagar, drains at few places were manually cleaned, but manual cleaning would is an ineffective measure to fix the problem, the expert quoted above said.

“There is a process for effective de-siltation of drainage system. That has to be followed to ensure water logging don’t occur again.” 

Regular de-silting is the key to keep a drainage system in good condition and fully operational. 

“This technical process is particularly important when we want to avoid inundation of our city markets and residential areas,” the expert said.

A senior officer of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said that annual de-silting proposal costing Rs nine crore was prepared, “but due to non-availability of funds, the proposal could not materialise.”

Commissioner SMC, Peerzada Hafizullah said water logging complaints pour in from low lying areas only.

“We press men and machinery to dewater them. For de-siltation of drains, the process has been initiated,” he said.