Srinagar: Dredging of the river Jhelum and its flood spill channel will not prevent massive floods like that seen in September 2014, experts here said on Friday.
Glaciologist Shakil Ramsoo, HOD Earth Sciences at the University of Kashmir told Kashmir Reader that the Jhelum’s capacity has reduced to 3,000 cusecs while the flood spill channel can hold only 8,000 cusecs, which is alarming.
“Flood project (dredging) is to increase the capacity of Jhelum and its spill channel to 50,000 cusecs, if the project is completed successfully. There is no point doing it unless an alternate flood channel from Sangam (Dogripora) to Wular is created that would retain the water capacity during massive floods like that of September, 2014,” Ramsoo said.
He said the 2014 floods had brought in a massive 120,000 cusecs of water, which is far in excess of the attempt to create space for 50,000 cusecs by dredging the river and its spill channel.
Jhelum has 24 water sheds and when it rains heavily at the source, it reaches Sangam within three hours and can deluge the Valley. The government has to carry out de-siltation of wetlands and revival of flood channels to make extra space for thousands of cusecs of water, which can serve the purpose, Ramsoo said.
The wetlands of Narkura (Budgam), Indra-nagar, Bemina (Srinagar), Poshkur (Pulwama), Boug (Sopore) etc are some of the places which have dwindled, he said.
Kashmir Valley has experienced three deadly floods in one century in 1903, 1959, and 2014, which have proven destructive. There should be a scientific approach to deal with this, including the construction of dams at higher reaches, however state government should present it scientifically to the Center so that the latter is convinced to invest in such programs, he added.
Department of Ecology and Environment and Remote Sensing officials on condition of anonymity also told Kashmir Reader that the Valley is still vulnerable even with the dredging. “Unprecedented floods like September, 2014 were destructive as there was no flood management in place. Keeping that in mind, the government should have practiced such norms to avoid catastrophes,” the officials said
However, government is not entirely accountable for such disasters, people also have to play a role to keep environment sustainable, officials said.
Chief Engineer Irrigation & Flood Control Department (IF&CD), Javaid Jaffar revealed that it would take around 10 years to make such arrangements for the Valley, however, the department has sent the proposal for the same to the central government.
Even though the department has already started dredging after collaboration with a Kolkata based dredging firm (Reach Dredging Limited), it faced roadblocks since the dredger had a technical fault.
“We will resume work in the next four days,” Jaffar said. He said the firm has to make sure they can start work within four days, otherwise the department would seek alternatives.