Srinagar: The water level in Kashmir’s lifeline, the river Jhelum, is alarmingly low, the recorded level the lowest in the past more than two decades. Officials in the Irrigation and Flood Control Department say that the low water level has affected most of their water supply schemes.
“The ongoing dry spell in the valley has caused the water level to recede. The water level is the lowest in last twenty years,” said a top official in the department.
Zaffar Ahmad Faktoo, Executive Engineer in Baramullah Division, said, “We have 78 water supply schemes functional in our division, and except 24 schemes, which work on lift scheme, all others are affected.”
“This is an alarming situation and only prayers can work,” Faktoo said, adding that he has not witnessed such a crisis in more than three decades of his service.
Kashmir has witnessed no rainfall in the month of October and in September, 16 mm of rain was recorded.
“We are witnessing a continuing dry spell and there have been no rains this month,” said Sonum Lotus, Director of Jammu & Kashmir Meteorological Department. “The weather is going to remain dry for the coming weeks as well,” he said.
The rainfall levels of September and October this year are low as compared to those in the last few years, he said.
“If you look at the time series of the observed discharge for the Jhelum since the 1960s, there is significant decline in the discharge since the 1990s. This is attributed to the loss of glacier mass in the Kashmir basin,” said Shakil Romshoo, who heads the Earth Sciences Department at Kashmir University and has worked extensively on Kashmir’s glaciers.
Nawaz Ahmad, assistant executive engineer at Srinagar, said, “We are not able to operate our lift machines at full capacity. The low water level is a problem for us. The water supply schemes running on gravity are affected badly.”
On Friday, as per the gauge reading data of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, the level of water in Jhelum at Sangam measuring point was minus 0.70 feet.
At Ram Munshibagh, the water level was recorded as 2.45 feet, and as 1.41 feet at Asham.