‘Don’t Lower Guard, More Floods Likely This Year’

Expert urges authorities to act at earnest

SRINAGAR:  Even as Kashmir is bracing with flood like situation experts are warning that there will be little respite in coming months 

“If luck favours people of Kashmir this week and they will not witness any flood, still the probability of such a flood shall increase with every passing day till September this year”, says Professor Shakil Ahmed Ramshoo,  Head of the Department, Earth Sciences at Kashmir University.  

“This is primarily due to very high groundwater levels all over the Kashmir valley because of last year’s extreme flooding and the wet March,” he said.

Ramshoo said that dilapidated flood control infrastructure is a worrying factor. The probability of flooding this year (2015) is very high. This was discussed with the authorities and the need for restoring and strengthening the flood control infrastructure was emphasized,” he said.

He said that realizing the looming threat of floods, the Government of India did sanction adequate funds in Dec-Jan (2014) for restoring the flood infrastructure but, “I am not sure how much of it was ultimately released to the State government. However, unfortunately this was not a priority of the previous government or the present government which is very saddening,” he said.

“Some desilting in Jhelum was done here and there but it was never on the scale it deserved. This should have been a priority number one project of the last and this government. Unfortunately the present government got embroiled in frivolous political controversies and lost the precious time,” he said.

Romshoo added that 100 year flood data of Jhelum shows that whenever there is an extreme flood in Jhelum, Kashmir Valley had a small magnitude flood the following year or the year next. “The concerned government machinery is well aware of this data and the high probability of flooding this year. There is a reason for the people of Kashmir to worry this year as the flood infrastructure is week and fragile and it might start leaking even under 40,000 cusecs discharge,” he said.

Responding to a question, the Earth Sciences expert said that floods can’t be avoided but loss of life and property can be minimized. He said there is a dire need to take certain measures to check the floods.

“Both the Jhelum and the flood channels have lost the carrying capacity due to extensive siltation, encroachments and pollution. The carrying capacity of our flood channels have come down from 17,000 to 5000 cusecs of water and same is the case with the River Jhelum. No proper desilting and dredging has taken place from past many years,” he said and added the presence of ground water level is a major threat and it needs time for absorption.

When asked how flood threats can be minimized, Prof Romshoo said that it is possible, provided the government shows seriousness. “All the flood channels and the River Jhelum need thorough desiltation and dredging from Sangam to Khandanyar. This process will increase the carrying capacity of the river and channels. Government must pass a ‘Flood Plains Act’ banning horizontal expansion of settlements and encroachments on the water courses, reclamation of low-lying floodplain areas for agriculture, siltation of rivers, construction of roads along the river banks and construction in the flood plains. Besides, the embankments of Jhelum should be conserved, beautified and made robust to check any kind of breech and water leakage,” he said. (CNS)

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