Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Saturday asked the government’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department what would be its response if 2014-like floods occur this year? Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed sought a report on enhancing the water capacity of flood spill channels of the river Jhelum. The flood control department was asked to give a power-point presentation on the next date of hearing, indicating steps taken to avert a situation like of 2014.
The court granted time as sought by the government to establish an Authority under Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation and Management) Act. The direction followed an assurance by Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie that the Authority would be established within two weeks.
The court sought a report on encroachments along the banks of river Jhelum and on its tributaries, asking it to be submitted next month.
In his report, Chief Engineer I&FC department submitted that the government had been working on the recommendations of the committee constituted post 2014-floods by Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR), River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The committee had recommended measures in three categories: immediate measures, short-term measures, and long-term measures.
The three-member committee comprised the Chairman Central Water Commission (CWC), the Commissioner (Indus), and the Director National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee. They had conducted a study of the 2014 floods so as to make suitable recommendations along with a detailed plan to deal with flood threats in future.
Under the immediate measures, the committee recommended the closing of breaches along the course of river Jhelum and the development of flood forecasting and warning networks.
Under short-terms measures, the committee recommended raising and strengthening of existing river embankments, enhancement of carrying capacity of existing flood spill channel, dredging of the spill channel to increase its carrying capacity, setting up of rapid action dewatering facilities in urban areas, and establishment of adequate emergency response measures.
Under long-term measures, the committee recommended a supplementary flood spill channel, enhancement of capacity of Wullar Lake, flood plain zoning, measures with regard to sewage and solid waste, a-forestation and catchment area treatment along hill slopes.
The Chief Engineer submitted before the court that the recommendations had been accepted and short-term measures were divided into phase-I and II to be acted upon.
The high court also issued a notice to the state government and the Government of India on a PIL filed by Environmental Policy Group (EPG) on acts of omission and commission committed by authorities before, during, and after the devastating 2014 floods.
Through its Convenor Faiz Ahmad Bakshi, the 189-page PIL included various details of non-implemented plans and projects by both the GoI and state government that would have averted the magnitude of flood and the devastations caused by it.
The PIL included various reports and information obtained through RTI which, according to the group, revealed that the I&FC and the Central Water Resource Ministry knew in 2009 that a major flood would occur between 2010 and 2015 but took little or no measures to avert it.