Return From The Brink: Before it Rains Again for Two Days

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ONCE again, Kashmir has narrowly missed the deluge. Had the rain not providentially stopped at the fateful hour, Srinagar would have again drowned along with swathes of South and North Kashmir. People had little option but to be sitting ducks to the fury of Jhelum, cowering in panic and hoping for a divine intervention.

And it is only this intervention that ended up saving us from yet another devastating flood. It may not happen again. Two more days of rain and we would be face to face with the apocalypse. The reason for this is that the two years since the September 2014 deluge, we have built little defences to safeguard us against a repeat of the calamity.

The ambitious flood protection plan that was being bandied about in 2014 has been all but junked.  True, in the absence of adequate finances, state government can do little.

The only viable remedy, an alternative spill channel extending all the way from Dogripora  in South Kashmir to Wular while bypassing Srinagar will need more than Rs 20,000 crore to construct.  And in 2015, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Rs 80,000 crore package gave the state just Rs 7,854 crore for both the flood relief and the reconstruction and flood management of Jhelum and its tributaries.

The only viable remedy, an alternative spill channel extending all the way from Dogripora  in South Kashmir to Wular while bypassing Srinagar will need more than Rs 20,000 crore to construct.  And in 2015, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Rs 80,000 crore package gave the state just Rs 7,854 crore for both the flood relief and the reconstruction and flood management of Jhelum and its tributaries.

So, the only option left with the government was the dredging of Jhelum and its Maharaja-era silted spill channels. This was expected to deepen them and thus create more discharge space for water. But this hasn’t happened at the required pace, making Srinagar hapless and vulnerable to the rain-swollen Jhelum.

This is a grim state of affairs and as the situation of the past few days has yet again underlined, we can’t afford to sleep over the ticking time bomb any longer. We need to shore up our weak defences against a looming  flood.

As of now, our preparedness, by and large, remains what it was before the last flood. This is disturbing, considering that we are now in 2017. There is every possibility of a spell of uninterrupted rain coupled with a snow-melt leading to a repeat deluge.  But in the deafening din of the competing party politics if anything is conspicuously missing, it is an effective, publicly debated strategy on how to deal with this extraordinary situation.

The latest flood scare should be enough to jolt the state government out of its existing easygoing approach. We need a policy and an action plan not only on how to pre-empt another calamity but also on how to effectively deal with one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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