South Kashmir Sinkhole Mystery Natural Phenomenon: Experts

Srinagar- Days after a massive sinkhole in a stream in Kokernag area of Anantnag district disrupted smooth flow of water; several experts on Wednesday junked the alarm bells which had falsely revealed that the sinkhole may be another assault unleashed by the unobstructed climatic changes on the mighty Himalayas and its peripheries.

On February 12, a massive sinkhole had appeared in the Brengi stream that had caused panic among the natives of the area. Besides causing panic among the locals, another victim of this sinkhole—which has dried up the major portion of the stream—were the special trout fishes who had died in large numbers as the sinkhole has left the downstream part of the stream completely dry.

Pertinently, many experts especially from the J&K’s Flood & Irrigation department and Geology and Mining department believed that the vertical hole in the stream is a natural phenomenon. However, contradicting such claims, many self-proclaimed experts had claimed that the appearance of this vertical hole was another alarm being raised against the depression caused on Kashmir's environment through Climatic Changes.

Talking to Kashmir Observer, Associate Professor at Earth Sciences Department of Kashmir University, Dr. Reyaz Dar said that this is completely a natural phenomenon that is a common sight for experts.

“Beneath boulders in any river or stream, there’s a layer known as Limestone. So, as limestone’s composition is calcium carbonate which is very prone to solution or chemical activities,” says Dr. Reyaz.

“And because of its chemical solution, it usually develops holes, one of which is the sinkhole which we’re currently witnessing in Brengi. So, it’s completely natural and people shouldn’t worry about it. It is absolutely nonsensical to co-link climate change with this sinkhole.

He further added, “In Kashmir, due to tectonic activities there are many faults and deformations of rocks which provides a passage to the water and somehow creates such sinkholes.”

Notably, due to the sinkhole, the water supply in the area has also been affected, however, the Flood and irrigation Department on Sunday had already pressed in men and machinery that had diverted the flow of water from going into the sinkhole to downstream.

Dr. Farooq, an expert on Geology and currently working as a professor at Kashmir University says that in such cases, the biggest challenge for experts is to find the way from where the water is oozing.

“The sinkhole phenomenon is completely natural, unless any human interference is noted. Wherever there’s a presence of limestone, there are equal chances of sinkholes. In Kashmir, as like other places, such topography is known as karst topography.

What matters for the experts and respective departments is to find the outlet of the water that is going into the sinkhole. Usually that water gets mixed up with the ground water and then flows into streams and other tributaries of the river. However, that can only be found out through research of the water that will help experts to understand the composition of water and will subsequently help in finding the outlet.” says Dr. Farooq.

He also added, “the best solution is to fill up the sinkhole with builders and other materials. However, the expert committee also needs to look into other possibilities as it’s likely that some other small scale sinkholes are also present in the stream.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the DC Anantnag Piyush Singla has already formed an expert committee to study the occurrence in detail and submit a report within two days.

“We would take a decision on treating this sinkhole once the expert committee submits its report,” he said.

As per an official from the Flood and Irrigation Department, the outlet of the underground artificial channel is yet to be found. “Till now, we haven’t found any outlet, but experts and other men and machinery are working on it.”

Admin Cautions Media Persons

Meanwhile authorities on Wednesday warned media persons against moving close to the sinkhole at Wandevalgam area of Kokernag in Anantnag, underscoring that they pose threat to themselves as well as attract the general public there.

“It has been observed that despite restrictions being imposed on any assembly of general public or movement of individuals near sinkhole at Wandevalgam on 11 February 2022 by Sub Divisional Magistrate Kokernag, a number of media personnel continue to move close to and into the sinkhole, posing threat to their own life,” Tehsildar Kokernag said in an advisory issued today.

“This in turn attracts the general public near the sinkhole which increases the threat to life and makes crowd control difficult for the administration,” reads the advisory, adding, “Hence all media personnel are hereby advised and warned not to violate the restrictions imposed around the sinkhole.”

He said action under relevant sections of law shall be taken against anyone found violating the order.

The vertical sinkhole in the Brengi stream at Wandevalgam village has disrupted its water flow and as per experts it is a natural phenomenon developed due to the gradual dissolution of limestone rocks in the water body.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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