100’s of Families Flee Fearing Fresh Floods

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Single Day’s Shower Gives Sleepless Nights to Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Thousands of people in both South and Central Kashmir moved to safer areas as rain-swollen Jehlum, tributaries and nallahs and flood channels swamped parts of South Kashmir, including Kulgam and Anantang, creating an emergency situation,  just nine months after floods devastated much of the Valley.

Officials ordered residents along the banks of the Jhelum River to move to safer places as the water crossed above danger mark at Sangam and Ram Munshi Bagh Srinagar.  

According to the reports scores of families moved to safer places from Rajbagh, Gandbal, Padshahibagh, Soetang, Shivpora, Sonwar, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bagh, Mehjoor Nagar and Bemina. These areas were worst hit in last year’s floods following dozens of breaches in Jhelum banks around these localities.

“This time we can’t take a chance as we have suffered a lot last time. We have already shifted our belongings as we have decided to move to safer place,” said Mohmaad Aslam of Padshahbagh while recalling the horrors of living without food and shelter for days last year.

According to Muneer Ahmad of Rajbagh their houses which were submerged in last year floods are vulnerable. “Even if the small amounts of water enters the locality, there is a high risk of damage,” he added.

Many shopkeepers have also shifted the merchandize of their shops to safer places. “It is a dangerous situation as the newly repaired banks can break even with less flow,” said a dry fruit vendor of Jawhar Nagar.

“If incessant rains resume it would be enough to inundate areas living close to the banks. There is high risk for those living behind deteriorating walls where breaches happened last year,” said an official of Irrigation and Flood Control Department.

Officials have already issued a flood alert in Srinagar, urging people living along Jhelum banks to move to safer places.

Anxious residents of many areas were roaming around the Jhelum embankments at Batwara, Shivpora and Padrethan to gauge the mood of Jhelum waters. 

The official sources said that the water level in Jhelum and streams especially in Vaishaw Nallah in Kulgam had risen overnight. The incessant rains, which threw life out of gear across Kashmir, triggered a flood alert in South and Central Kashmir areas. The flood alert level of 13 feet  touched at Asham in North Kashmir by 3 pm on Thursday prompting authorities to sound high flood alert.

Scores of areas in Anantnag and Kulgam were submerged due to rain waters. The torrential rains blocked Srinagar-Jammu highway at many places while authorities also suspended train-service. 

“We have issued flood alert for South and Central Kashmir,” Chief Engineer, Flood Control Department, Mir Javid Jaffer told reporters. He said, “the water level at Sangam is above ‘above’ danger mark. Right now it is above 28-feet and when it crosses the 23-feet mark, flood alert is declared.”  “There has been a steep rise in water levels in Lidder, Toungri and Vaishav nallahs,” he said, adding the situation is being monitored closely.

Jaffer said the situation in Srinagar is also being monitored while water level at Ram Munshi Bagh is above danger mark.  “It is 1.5 feet above the danger mark,” he said, adding, “There has been blunt increase in water levels in north Kashmir rivers.”  

At least 12 nomads were evacuated when they were trapped in Chamgund village of Kulgam district after the Vaishaw basin waters entered the hamlet. “Many people living along the river banks and streams have been evacuated to safer places,” said an official.

He said the water level of Vaishaw Nallah in Kulgam, Sandran in Qazigund, Lidder along Pahalgam as well as Jhelum has already gone up.

“The rescue operations in various hamlets are being carried out by district administration, police, Fire and Emergency Service department and rafters from Pahalgam. Fifty families have been evacuated from Kulgam’s low lying areas and shifted to railway station Anantnag,” he said adding that Vaishaw Nallah breached its banks on Thursday morning and damaged some bridges, road diversions and paddy crops in many areas.

Officials said that at least three houses and a School building were damaged due to flood waters of Vaishaw Nallah at Rasugudar. At Kachipora Ledro a two storey school building was damaged in the floods. “Two mosques and seven Water Schemes were badly damaged by floods in Pohlu, Devsar and Chumgund. Culverts and small bridges were washed away in Nehma.

Reports said that scores of hamlets of Kulgam district were submerged due to incessant rains causing flash floods. The hamlets including Chunigam, Gudhar, Mirhama, Tangabal, Kharpora, Shamsipora, Husanpora, Manigam, Ganaie Mohalla, Vesu, Pir Takia, Arwani, Chek Maswani, Banjarpora, Chandarkoot and others.

In Kaimoh area of Kulgam, authorities closed the Anantnag-Shopian and Anantnag- Kulgam road and didn’t allow any vehicle to cross the Kaimoh Bridge after increase in the water level in adjacent river. “Khudwani, Redwani, Qaimoh and adjoining villages are submerged,” residents said.

Scores of areas were inundated due to the torrential rains in Anantnag district. At some places shops and residential houses were submerged. Officials said that Sangam was flowing above danger mark and the possibility of imminent flood threat can’t be ruled out. He said that Shamsipora, Dangarpora, Ganjiwards, Mehandikadal and Achabal adda in the district were submerged in rain water. Deputy Commissioner Anantnag said that with the rising water level in Jehlum, flood threat is looming large.

Reports of damages to residential houses and cowsheds were received from various areas of the district, including Dooru, Verinag, Kokernag and Shangus. In Tral area of Pulwama district, the water level in Nallah Aripal and Chandhri Nallah have also increased, resulting in the washing away of culverts uprooting of Chinar trees.

In Shopian, the water level of Rambiara Nallah also increased considerably and reports said several villages were submerged. Consequently, they said, the Fire and Emergency department personnel have rescued many families in different hamlets of South Kashmir’s Shopian district.

“The waters from Rambiara entered Sarvan Napur village in Khelna area of Pulwama district and area is completely submerged and the villagers have been evacuated,” reports said. Road leading to the tourist resort of Pahalgam from Bijbehara town was blocked by angry protesters at Katsoo demanding immediate attention of administration in inundated areas. At Sangam, agitated protesters did not allow the employees of Irrigation and Flood Control department to work properly.The 300 km long strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway submerged at Charsoo Awantipora village in Pulwama district of the valley prompting authorities to divert the traffic toward Tral Town. Incessant rains also caused water-logging in all major towns of South Kashmir including Anantnag, Bijbehara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Kakpora, Rajpora, Awantipora, Pampore and others, causing problems for pedestrians and also hampering the movement of traffic.

An official spokesman said that Chief Minister Mufti Muhamamd Sayeed is personally monitoring the situation that has arisen due to incessant rain in the State. “The Chief Minister has put the State Administration on high alert, directing them to be at the beck and call of the people wherever required,” he said. Chief Minister has directed the Divisional Commissioners to place senior officers on duty for monitoring the situation and initiate all necessary measures to safeguard the people. He directed them to keep control rooms operational round-the-clock so that there is close contact between the people and the concerned officers.

“Omar Abdullah received brief from the administration about the situation in Kashmir. He also received brief about the rescue and relief operations put in place by the administration to meet the challenges. He said that rescue operations on war-footing should be carried out wherever need arises. —With inputs from CNS

Weather to improve from today: Lotus

Srinagar: MeT office Thursday said that flood threat is looming large and the possibility Kashmir will be hit by another flood can’t be ruled out.

“People should not panic but should remain vigilant and cautious. In South Kashmir alone, 113 mm or 11 cm rainfall was recorded in last 24 hours. Ground has lost its water absorption quality in Kashmir due to continuous rainfall and last year’s September floods. All water bodies in Kashmir are completely saturated, thus creating a room for possible deluge this time,” Director MeT Sonam Lotus said.   

He however said that if the floods at all occur that will not be of September magnitude. “I am not telling you that we are safe. We must be vigilant and shift our belongings to the upper stories of our houses,” he said and added that there is no problem in taking precautionary measures.

Responding to a question, Lotus said that Kashmir has right now been witnessing Monsoon rains. “Fortunately there is a significant improvement in weather system and considerable decrease in rainfall activity. This may avoid the flood threat but there is every possibility that Kashmir will witness light to moderate rainfall during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday,” he said and added that weather is likely to improve by Friday morning. (CNS)    

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