KASHMIR has seen an extended rainy season after a winter that was mainly dry and also saw a significant jump in temperature in February. The meteorological department has been predicting erratic weather since March. And as things stand, the weather seems likely to remain uncertain going forward. This has pushed the temperature down, which is not good for farming.
Another fear is that the recurrent rain could trigger floods. We have been on the verge of floods for the past two months due to the prolonged rain. The possibility of another flood will persist if the weather doesn’t get better. And if this happens, it would be a disaster. The memory of the 2014 deluge and its destructive fallout is still fresh in the minds of the people. And it could very well happen again.
These are legitimate fears considering we are still far from building credible safeguards against the prospect of a future flood. The carrying capacity of Jhelum is yet to be adequately enhanced to accommodate excess water. Though a government project to do so has been ongoing since 2014, it is yet to be completed. So, the administration would need to proactively work on the project to reduce the chances of yet another big flood. And until that happens, people will continue to live in dread of rain.
Every time, erratic rain extends for a longer duration in a warmer season, we are reminded of our hapless vulnerability to flooding. More so, in Srinagar whose new-found susceptibility to flood threatens to put a question mark on its viability as a summer capital. That is, unless we conceive and execute a course of action that drastically reduces this vulnerability.
On the other hand, one benefit of colder weather in spring has been the rise in tourist inflow. Tourists are flocking to Kashmir in large numbers. Around 2.5 lakh tourists visited the Valley in the first two months of this year and since then the numbers have only gone further grown. The recently concluded tulip festival attracted over 3.75 lakh tourists, while Gulmarg saw over 2 lakh tourists during the winter. Last year, J&K witnessed over 26.7 lakh tourist arrivals, the highest in the last three decades. These are impressive figures.
The growing tourism has gone a long way to shore up Kashmir’s economy and bring back employment lost to the successive security and COVID-19 lockdown. The boom in the sector is also having a positive spillover effect on other sectors. That said, a big flood has the potential to undo the gains of tourism. So, the administration needs to ensure that the city’s water bodies such as Jhelum and flood channels have sufficient capacity to take the rainwater.
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