Unprecedented fury of rains

When benevolent, kind and all caring nature turns furious at times, it has its own ways and the man despite having progressed so much in all respects is all helpless and undone before it. When it turns “hostile “, life is scurrying here and there to hide to get protection and somehow be saved. The torrential rains that lashed Jammu division on July 12, breaking records of decades while bringing some respite from scorching heat, took heavy price therefore by causing massive flash floods, destruction of properties and disrupting normal life for hours together and causing massive landslides on the National Highway and on other roads. The thunders, frequent lightening, the gushing water in Nallahs, drains and roads, frightening sounds all around made people plunge into worries of different hues – safety of their houses, vehicles, cattle, impact of uprooting of trees and electric poles and the like.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) having issued an orange alert for Jammu and Kashmir denotes that more rains, perhaps of the same intensity, were likely to be expected which should put all concerned on alert to try to mitigate, if not possible to prevent, as far as possible the impact of such rains. The “breathing time” got by the administration due to weather improvement following the heavy rains, must be utilised to gear up to meet problems like cleaning and de-silting choked drains and put in place other measures to prevent accumulated water from entering houses and shops besides taking other necessary steps to prevent chaotic conditions of flash floods and flooding of streets and lanes.
Besides extensive damage to many houses, several vehicles, heads of cattle too reported to have been washed away only shows the intensity of the heavy rains and the flash floods. Surprisingly, the rain and accumulated water entering many houses in Shastri Nagar, Trikuta Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Channi Rama, Preet Nagar, Gangyal, Canal Road, Talab Tiloo and many areas raises many questions about the planning of the city, laying out of residential colonies, building standards and safeguards as also measures and provisions in place for managing such natural fury. How much and who are responsible for using most of the available land only for raising concrete jungles and leaving no scope for the rain water to get absorbed and find its own way of getting drained out is a pertinent question and not out of context in totality.
Scores of such small and big Nallahs in and around Jammu city were meant only to drain excess rain water and prevent any water logging or flash floods due to rains but it is to be lamented that hardly any Nallah is seen not encroached in one or the other way thus disturbing natural course of draining excess water from the city. Any move to get such encroachments vacated are met with protests and resistance resulting in the position remaining as it is, only to be seen the havoc which was witnessed two days back. A well devised policy backed by framing necessary laws by the government alone can get such encroachments permanently removed. It is shocking to observe that even in the core city, most of such Nallahs have disappeared as colonies are built over and around them thus preventing rain water from having its way of drainage from these areas.
It is, however, a matter of great relief that the waters of Chenab, Tawi, Tarnah and Ujh rivers in addition to several other Nallahs which were virtually in spate during the night and even morning hours started receding by afternoon. On the other hand, despite arrangements being made by the Jammu Municipal Corporation to collect garbage, waste material etc from residential houses /shops, streets etc, still the drains built, even three feet or more deep, are found choked resulting in overflowing of rain water on streets and littering them with polythene bags, garbage and flooding them. Besides, these drains are rarely cleaned to keep in ‘operational’ form but usually remain choked. Every city and town must have a well devised system and planning of drainage of water but Jammu city having virtually no drainage system on modern lines is resulting in wreaking of havoc when it rains in torrents.
Several questions remain unanswered in the context of how much preparedness had the JMC and other agencies to deal with the monsoon rains which are always expected to strike with all fury, range and speed. With what the people of Jammu witnessed on July 11 and July 12, was almost all deep drains on both sides of roads not de-silted and cleaned to allow free water flow resulting in garbage overflowing on streets making any type of movement, even of emergency ones, difficult on them. JMC authorities claiming that encroachment over Nallahs responsible for much “devastation” strongly desired that such encroachments needed to be removed sooner than any later. At the same time, reports that the drive to ban polythene bags to prevent drains from getting choked now denotes digging well when the fire was raging. However, still it is better late than never and is advisable to ban use of polythene bags strictly. In the meantime, let us see how best the administration deals with the situation in the coming days as monsoon has just started.