Flood threat looms over Pulwama villages

Srinagar: Flood threat looms large in dozens of villages in Pulwama district as the Flood Control Department has failed to remove the earth dug for the construction of concrete retaining walls along the Lar stream.
Worried residents in Ratnipora village said that the Flood Control Department has been constructing retaining walls along the stream banks from the last one year to prevent their breach.
But the department, the residents said, has failed to remove the earth from the stream which is piled up in it after the contractor digs the earth from the banks.
“The construction of the walls along the banks is appreciable. But we are worried over the earth which gets accumulated into the fresh water stream. The earth has piled up into big mounds in the stream at dozens of places after these walls have been built,” said Mohammad Muneeb, one of the villagers.
The villagers said these mounds have narrowed down the width of the stream, thus blocking the water flow downstream and increasing the pressure upstream.
“The mounds pose two dangers: One scarcity of drinking water to the people living downstream. And flood threats, in rainy season, to the residents living upstream,” said the worried villagers.
Dozens of upstream villages, including Tirch, Narwa, Sanzwatru, Koil, Talengam, and others face flood threats, which will devastate residential houses, lakhs of acres of agriculture land, orchard land after the narrowing of the stream due to the earth mounds.
Similarly, the villagers downstream, including Gulbagh,
Mohanviji, Rishipora, Hanjipora, and others who receive drinking water and whose agriculture land is irrigated by the stream fear drought in paddy season as the stream is being narrowed due to earth accumulation.
Executive Engineer Irrigation Department, Pulwama, Munnu Karwal, said that he is not aware of the stream being choked in the village.
“I will be sending a team to the village tomorrow (Monday) to assess the ground situation and collect the facts. And then we will take action accordingly,” Karwal said
The villagers also said that some “greedy” people have already encroached upon these mounds, smoothened them and planted poplar trees which further blocked the water flow.
Senior Engineer Flood Control Department, A M Mir said that they will stop payments to the contractor if he does not remove the earth from the stream.
The villagers said they have complained to the officials of the department and the contractor also about this blocking.
“The officials said they will ensure removal of the earth from the contractor. We also complained to the contractor to remove the earth, but he said the department does not provide funds for the earth removing, it only provides costs for constructing retaining walls. He said he was helpless as he cannot bear the costs from his pocket,” the villagers said.
Earlier, the department had ensured that they will remove earth from the stream. But, the villagers said, after completion of the work the engineers and supervisors don’t show up and leave accumulate earth into the stream as it is.
The dodging of responsibility by the officials and the contractor have put the villagers into a helpless state and they said they will launch agitation against the department if the earth was not removed immediately from the whole stream.

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