Unplanned development across Kashmir can have serious consequences: MHA

Report calls for more corrective measures to prevent 2014 flood-like disasters
While the existing flood control infrastructure in Kashmir was overwhelmed during the 2014 floods, leading to a hazardous situation in the region, the report calls for long-term measures.  [Image for representational purpose only]
While the existing flood control infrastructure in Kashmir was overwhelmed during the 2014 floods, leading to a hazardous situation in the region, the report calls for long-term measures. [Image for representational purpose only]File

Srinagar: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that unplanned development across Kashmir could have serious consequences.

The report of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs, has called for taking more corrective measures to prevent the 2014 flood-like disasters.

The report talks at length about the haphazard developmental activities, including economic and infrastructure projects, taking place without sufficient consideration for environmental safety and sustainability.

“These activities include mining operations on the floodplains of the River Jhelum, construction of railway lines, and poorly-planned urbanisation,” the NIDM report reads.

It states that most of these developmental activities are carried out with little regard for the environmental, geological, geomorphological, and ecological conditions of the region.

“The ongoing construction boom, fuelled by indiscriminate mining of sand, gravel, and boulders from riverbeds, weakens the existing flood control infrastructure, making the rivers more susceptible to flash floods,” the report states.

According to the report, the rapid urbanisation in Kashmir, encroachment of water bodies in land adjoining river banks, and the disappearance of wetlands have disrupted the natural drainage patterns.

While the existing flood control infrastructure in Kashmir was overwhelmed during the 2014 floods, leading to a hazardous situation in the region, the report calls for long-term measures.

These measures include the construction of an alternate flood channel from Dogripora to Wullar, improvement of the drainage system in urban areas in the Jhelum basin, restoration of natural drainage, conservation and restoration of degraded wetlands in the Jhelum basin, sewage treatment, and city and town planning that considers flood and earthquake vulnerability, among other structural and non-structural measures.

Executive Director, NIDM, Taj Hassan in the foreword of the report says that the 2014 flood caused 287 deaths, adversely affecting around 20 lakh people.

“It paralysed Srinagar city for several days. Central government, several states, and union territories came forward to help J&K. The documentation of the 2014 Kashmir flood has drawn lessons for future course of action and for managing similar events in a well-coordinated manner,” he writes.

The 2014 floods also severely affected the healthcare system with 102 institutions of the Directorate of Health Services in Kashmir being impacted.

After the 2014 devastating floods, an analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had said that unprecedented rainfall, unplanned urbanisation and lack of preparedness are the basic reasons behind the floods.

“In the last 100 years, more than 50 per cent of the lakes, ponds and wetlands of Srinagar have been encroached upon for constructing buildings and roads. The banks of the Jhelum River have been taken over in a similar manner, vastly reducing the river’s drainage capacity. Naturally, these areas have suffered the most,” the CSE had said.

Elaborating on the unpreparedness of J&K in dealing with such events, the CSE officials had said that J&K does not have a flood forecasting system and “its disaster management system is also rudimentary”.

“The Kashmir floods are a grim reminder that climate change is now hitting India harder. In the last 10 years, several extreme rainfall events have rocked the country and this is the latest calamity in that series,” the CSE had said.

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