Frequent rainfall in March-April isn't uncommon to Kashmir. For centuries Kashmir valley has been witnessing rainfall in spring. Post 2014 floods we panic when there is a rainfall for two or three consecutive days. Residents of Srinagar city especially feel distressed during rains. It reminds them of September 2014 when almost 80 % of the city was flooded. We are witnessing a lot of water logging these days. Roads that were damaged during winter snowfall have further got disfigured by accumulation of rainwater. The drainage system is almost defunct in Srinagar and other towns. Amar Singh College Srinagar gave a different look some days back. This college campus had turned into a small lake-like place. The pictures went viral on social media. Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Athar Amir Khan took an extensive review on dewatering. He visited places like Moomin Abad Batamaloo, Parimpora Fruit Mandi, Zainakot, Bemia which were almost flooded. The Commissioner visited Amar Singh College also. As per media reports the commissioner SMC gave instructions to deploy additional mobile pumps to drain out water from Amar Singh college campus. As the water absorption capacity of our soil in Kashmir valley, particularly Srinagar city has come down drastically, some questions keep pounding my mind. How much water can be drained out when there is water-logging in places like Amar Singh college or Bemina area? Where shall the pumped water go? What is the future of Srinagar city?
Water absorption capacity of soil
Maintaining soil water holding capacity means increased profits for farmers. Soil water holding capacity is a term that all farmers should know to optimize crop production. When there is a deficit in the amount of water in the soil, the soil profile needs to be replenished by precipitation or irrigation. The water absorption capacity of soil in Kashmir has decreased. There is more moisture in our soil and many areas get water-logged just after a few hours of rainfall. The traditional paddy farms in many areas of Kashmir and Srinagar outskirts or Budgam / Ganderbal too get inundated soon after little rains. All this is mainly due to population growth, urbanization, construction of septic tanks and land conversion. I will add one more important reason to this which is the Plastic Waste, which haschoked our irrigation canals, drains and streams, plus a huge quantity of it having been buried under the soil which doesn't allow water absorption into the soil.
The frequent water logging in Srinagar can be related to the phenomenon of urban floods which is entirely a manmade disaster. The reason is mainly the poorly constructed and maintained drainage systems, plastic waste choking the drainage system, shrinking green spaces and unscientific road construction. All this contributes to water logging on the road surface soon after rainfall. Government of Jammu & Kashmir needs to put a complete ban on the use of plastic bags which includes snacks sold in non-biodegradable plastic packets. The fact of the matter is that Non-Biodegradable plastic material is already banned in J&K under the Jammu & Kashmir Non-Biodegradable Material (Management Handling & Disposal) Act 2007 but the law is not enforced on ground. Unscientific management of plastic waste , poor drainage and sewage system is the main cause of urban flooding. This was also one of the main reasons for 2014 Kashmir floods.