Flood prone J&K never conducted morphology of rivers, water bodies

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, July 28: Shocking it may sound but is a reality that flood prone Jammu and Kashmir has never conducted morphology of the rivers and water bodies despite being aware of the fact that such an exercise helps the authorities concerned in tackling floods or sudden discharge from the upstream reservoirs.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that an understanding of the morphology and behavior of the river is pre-requisite for a scientific and rational approach to different river problems and proper planning and design of water resources projects.
Actually, the morphology study throws light on the reasons of erratic behavior of the river or other water bodies manifested in frequent changes in the river course, lateral migration of the river courses, heavy out bank spilling due to inadequate channel capacity, frequent carrying of secondary or new channels, rise in river beds, frequent attack on river banks and embankments etc.
“It is being increasingly realized that the morphological study of river needs to be conducted to understand the unique characteristics of each river or water body so that the responses of the river or water bodies due to any encroachment in the flood plain or more in the case of future man-made structures may be anticipated and preventive measures as considered necessary may be planned before hand”, sources further said.
Keeping in view the importance of morphology study of rivers and water bodies, the Central Water Commission (CWC) under the Union Ministry of Water Resources had in the month of March 2009 issued detailed guidelines for conducting of morphology studies of rivers and water bodies particularly those which have the history of causing floods.
These guidelines were brought to the notice of all the State where floods during the rainy season is a regular phenomenon and J&K was among such States as almost all the rivers in J&K and other water bodies are known for causing devastating floods during the monsoon season, sources informed.
However, no seriousness was shown towards conducting morphology study of the rivers and water bodies and the guidelines of the Central Water Commission were only treated as trash by the concerned authorities of the J&K Government, sources regretted.
Had such a study been conducted and corrective measures taken on the basis of the same the losses due to the devastating floods of September 2014 would have been much less. Even the destruction caused during the subsequent floods in different parts of J&K would have been minimized up to large extent as the morphology study suggests measures like removal of encroachment, protection of embankments to avoid change in the course of the rivers and other water bodies, clearance of flood spill channels and helps in checking rise in river beds, which is also considered as major reason behind the floods, sources pointed out.
In a recent meeting held at Srinagar, the Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation found it appropriate to direct the concerned authorities to conduct the study for river morphology and embankment assessment of Jhelum, Tawi and other rivers and water bodies.
However, the belated action on the part of the Government is not going to yield any immediate result as such studies generally take two and half years time, sources said.
When contacted, Commissioner/ Secretary, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Sanjeev Verma confirmed that much needed morphology study of rivers and water bodies has never been conducted in Jammu and Kashmir. “As per the directions of the Minister we will shortly initiate process for engagement of a firm for conducting study as only companies with much expertise in the field can execute the task”, he added.
He, at the same time, admitted that minimum two and half years time would be required to complete the task.