Failure of authorities to take measures for protection of flood basins in Srinagar contributed to high water levels in devastating floods last year.
In absence of regulation, the traditional flood basins in the summer capital have now turned into residential colonies. areas like Lasjan, Padshaibagh, Soiteng, Mehjoor Nagar, Sumarbug, parts of Rambagh, Nowgam and Natipora, which were considered as flood basins, has turned into full-fledged colonies. These areas used to get submerged after breach in Kandzal embankments of river Jhelum during floods.
"These areas were part of flood basin of Jhelum. However, due to vote bank politics, hundreds of structures came up in the flood basin. Few decades ago, Mehjoor Nagar was an open ground with just few houses and during floods was among the first places to get submerged. Now, there is hardly any open space there," said Mushtaq Ahmad, a local.
Experts said that few decades ago it was easy for authorities to rehabilitate people living in these areas. "People of these areas now oppose breaching Kandzaal during floods. This was one of the reasons which led to floods in city-centre areas including historic Lal Chowk last year. It is now an impossible task to shift from these flood basins," they said.
People living in these erstwhile flood basins accuse authorities of failing to provide them relief. "We also bore the brunt of floods last year, but government did not give us a penny," said Ghulam Nabi, a local.
"Due to floods, our residential houses, small scale units, kilns, poultry farms and crops worth crores were damaged. But we were left to fend for ourselves," said Fayaz Ahmad, of Mehjoor Nagar.
An official of Irrigation and Flood Control Department said "we can only remove encroachments on Jhelum embankments. "If Srinagar city has to be saved from floods in future, these floods basins have to be restored," he said.