Study on recent floods

In the first week of September this year, serious calamity befell a vast population of Kashmir valley. The flood situation was worse in parts of Srinagar city that lay close to the banks of the river and were among vulnerable low lands. The city is situated on both banks of River Jhelum. Experts report that there have been floods in Kashmir as recorded by historians but the dimension of floods happening this time is altogether unprecedented. In the past we have had incessant rains also and floods too but the strange happening this time was the breach in the bund of the river in Srinagar city. The breach in Abi Guzar bund was the cause of inundation of prestigious Lal Chowk and adjoining areas that suffered great damages. It has increased the curiosity of the people and the Government also to know the reasons, and to find solution to the occurrence of floods on permanent basis.
The Chief Minister of the State wrote to the Union Minister of Water Resources to depute a team of experts to carry out investigation into the reasons that lead to the flooding of parts of Southern Kashmir and the city of Srinagar especially the low lying areas. Now, a team consisting of three experts will be deputed by the Union Ministry of Water Resources to conduct the study and report to the Ministry.  The Department of Irrigation and Flood Control of the State has already conducted preliminary study, and their findings will be placed before the committee constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources. While the details of the causes of flood will be known in due course of time, one thing of common knowledge is that the State administration has failed to impose ban on construction of new structures on land encroached upon from the river banks. This has caused obstruction to free flow of water even when the level of water does not rise high. Raising illegal constructions and taking no action against the defaulters is the result of political interference in administrative matters of the State. Many illegal activities are overlooked just because the defaulters can manage political pressure.
Central team will be visiting the sites where the rivers of Jammu region, namely Chenab, Tawi and Surankote¬† broke the banks and caused flood. It will also visit the site in Ramgarh where the BSF camp was inundated and then file their finding. In Kashmir, the people believe that Government’s failure to build the second flood channel for which funds were provided in the budget was the causes of the waters of Jhelum breaking the bank and entering the city. It is also reported that some political leaders with vested interest did not allow the flood waters to be channeled to the existing flood channel around Lasjan with the result that Jhelum overflowed its banks and caused flood that engulfed the city. These are all speculations but with the Central team beginning its investigation, the entire picture will be clear and guidelines for future will be drawn. The team must complete its assignment in shortest possible time because the sufferers cannot wait to see the harsh winter making their life more difficult. Before the onset of winter, the roofless people have to be provided with shelter.
It is also important that the State Government tries to raise as much of funds as it can through its own resources to augment rehabilitation programme for those who are still living in tents or on the roadside.
Further, it has been reported that there is large scale misrepresentation of victims of floods. Many of the claimants are not genuine victims or sufferers. They have made fake cases to claim relief and related facilities. Authorities have to be very careful that fake registration is not made and those who are genuine sufferers are not ignored. Cross verification of enlisted sufferers has to be made.


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