43,800 trees cut down at Bemina to widen flood channel, ‘compensation’ paid

43,800 trees cut down at Bemina to widen flood channel, ‘compensation’ paid

Srinagar:The J&K government on Thursday gave a detailed presentation in the High Court with respect to projects taken up for cleaning flood spill channels and dredging of river Jhelum, besides installation of an early flood-warning system that costs 399.29 crore rupees.
The presentation by Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) was made through his counsel, who stated that the government has taken major steps to avert floods in Kashmir.
The chief engineer’s counsel told the court that 16.15 lakh cubic metres (cums) of dredging in river Jhelum had been completed and by December 2017, the remaining 7.112 cums will also be dredged out.
The court was told that construction of two bridges at Shariefabad and Naidkhai, and of a retaining wall along the river Jhelum from Khanabal to Baramulla will be completed by the year 2017-2018.
The counsel told the court that about 43,800 trees had been cut down to widen the flood spill channel at Durbal, Bemina, its excavation work already done. Compensation had been paid to locals after they resisted the construction work, the counsel told the court.
The counsel stated that an early flood-warning system had been installed with automatic water-level recorders placed at Sangam, Ram Munshi Bagh, Kwhudwani, Barkoot and Wachi. Nine auto river-gauge stations were also being installed in the current year. Ten aluminium boats and ten rubber boats have also been ordered for flood evacuation purposes.
The counsel said that through the Flood Alert app for mobile phones and through social media, the I&FC department has made necessary information available to the general public.
The division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey that heard the counsel, asked for a report on disaster preparedness to be submitted before the next hearing. “The presentation indicated that immediate steps required for Jhelum dredging have been executed and short-term measures are in process which will be completed by 2017-2018. But a report of disaster preparedness must be submitted before the court by the disaster management department to overcome a situation like of September 2014,” the court said.
The court also directed the Chief Engineer I&FC to place his presentation on the department’s website, so that the public may read it and also put forward their suggestions.
The court noted that because of deforestation and migratory grazing, a lot of slit was accumulating in the river Jhelum, reducing its water-carrying capacity. The court asked the forestry department and principal conservator of forests to examine the issue and file a status report before the next hearing.
The court also directed that a meeting be held on Friday under the J&K Water Resources Act for the purpose of dredging in river Jhelum and disaster preparedness.
In the previous hearing, the court had warned authorities against any lapse in ensuring complete dredging of river Jhelum and removal of
encroachments along its course, saying it may “definitely give rise to a catastrophe” like the floods in 2014.

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