How a minister’s ambition drowned Srinagar?


Taj Mohi-ud-din, ex-Minister, Irrigation and Flood Control, was extraordinarily bubbly on introducing water transport over Jhelum. To achieve this ‘feat’, the water level of the river Jhelum had to be high. The minister thought of a sinister plan—he chose the Asia’s largest fresh-water lake, Wullar, to satiate his fondness. He got the banks of the lake earth-filled thereby reducing the volume of water by a huge 50% compared to what it usually held. Water short of the discharge point was allowed to run to the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Even then, the minister, his ‘wise’ advisors and the ‘bonafide parties’ couldn’t achieve their ‘noble’ objective. The Minister’s dream was shattered. 

The aftermath of what they did to Wullar came to the fore when the entire Kashmir received rainfall above the average level. A narrowed Wullar couldn’t pass all the water through it, consequently the river Jhelum continued to swell until it broke the embankments at various places including the Srinagar city resulting in the catastrophic floods that took with it hundreds of lives and property worth thousands of crores. Water receded as did the level of Wullar but the exit channel that the Minister fiddled with continues to pose a danger. The existing government, too, looks like hasn’t paid any attention towards this serious flaw that could again pose a danger should Kashmir receive rains like what it did in the last September. The officials manning the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, much like the proverbial ostrich, have buried their heads under sand. No effort has been taken to restore the exit channel to its previous caliber. 

I make an earnest plea through this letter that the present government may kindly look into the issue and have the exit channel leading to Wullar widened to its normal capacity so that Jhelum flows effortlessly into its basin—the Wullar. If the measures are not taken immediately, we may already be sitting on the edges of yet another catastrophic flood.

Residents of Bandipore, 

Threough Engineer Sikandar Ali

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