Anantnag: The tributary connecting Vaishaw Nallah to Jhelum River, despite being a major cause of flooding in dozens of villages in Anantnag and Kulgam districts, has been left untouched by the dredging work being carried out in the Jhelum.
The tributary is a major contributor of water into the Jhelum, and thus poses a risk of flood to Srinagar and other areas beside the Jhelum.
The government, as per sources, has done nothing to clear the tributary of the accumulated silt and alluvium, or carry out any anti-erosion work on the embankments since the 2014 floods.
Vaishaw is a nallah originating from Kouser Nag spring in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
After running through almost the entire length of Kulgam district, the nallah joins a tributary of the Jhelum in Khodweni area of the district. Then it passes through many villages before merging into the Jhelum at Sangam in Anantnag district.
During the devastating floods of September 2014, the Vaishaw Nallah wrecked havoc across Kulgam district. The tributary that connects it to the Jhelum turned into a raging river during the floods, and devastated dozens of villages including Khodweni, Qaimoh, Ghat, Rahpora, Turka, Tachloo, Sursuna, Wanpora, Redweni, Arwini, Tulkhon, Loktipora and many others.
Local sources told Kashmir Reader that after the floods in 2014, the accumulated silt and alluvium has formed tiny islands in the tributary, hindering the flow of water.
“Besides, banks of the tributary at many places have been washed off, along with the trees on them, during the 2014 floods,” locals told Kashmir Reader.
They said that the government has done nothing to mend the condition of the tributary, which is a major cause of concern.
“They have been focusing on the dredging of Jhelum but when water will overflow in this tributary, the dredging of Jhelum will be rendered useless,” a highly-placed source in the flood control department told Kashmir Reader.
He said that even the slightest increase in water levels will be enough to submerge the aforementioned villages.
“There are literally no banks on the tributary and the silt is way more than normal. We are sitting, awaiting another disaster,” he said.
What adds to the concerns is that the tributary majorly affects the Homeshalibugh constituency, considered to be the rice bowl of Kashmir.
“The feared floods will destroy our crops if it strikes in the paddy season and will damage the quality of the soil,” concerned locals told Kashmir Reader.
The MLA from Homeshalibugh, Abdul Majeed Bhat Larmi, said that he had raised the issue in a meeting on August 30.
“There was some work done initially but then the government said that the agencies conducting the work backed out. I raised the issue again in a recent board meeting,” Bhat said.
He said he has been assured that the work will be completed in the month of October, after water levels come down.
“Let’s wait another month and see what is done by the government,” Larmi said.
Kashmir Reader tried to talk to the Chief Engineer of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Imtiyaz Ahmad Dhar, but he was in New Delhi attending a meeting.
Executive Engineer of Flood Control for Anantnag, Fareed Hussain Reshi, said the department had no funds for flood protection work on any of the Jhelum’s tributaries.
“We have made a detailed project report (at an estimated cost of Rs 250 crore) for such work on the tributaries. The approval to the project is awaited,” Reshi said while talking to Kashmir Reader.
He said that the department hopes the project gets the nod sooner than later.