‘Missing’ angle of Kashmir floods

‘Missing’ angle of Kashmir floods

SRINAGAR: Four weeks after the devastating floods hit Kashmir Valley, particularly the capital city of Srinagar, experts have found that a vital engineering angle, which is necessary for giving strength to the earth-filled structure to withstand floods, had been eroded because of massive vandalisation of Jhelum embankments.
The Angle of Repose, as engineering experts put it, is the steepest angle of descent or dip relative to the horizontal plane to which a granular material can be piled without slumping.
Dr MA Lone, head of the Water Resource Engineering at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), explains that the embankments that have been laid around the Jhelum are made of earth that had its own Angle of Repose to rest and resist any pressure.
“The Jhelum embankment exists in a tapered position with its base being quite wide than its top. The engineers who designed it had taken into consideration the total surface necessary to achieve the Angle (of Repose) for it to resist the foods.
“It (embankment) isn’t a vertical structure, but its strength lies in this important angle on both sides. But we have seen how people as well as different government agencies have eroded and encroached the Jhelum bunds, making it almost vertical at many places,” Dr Lone told Kashmir Reader.
“Because of the massive encroachment, the Angle of Repose had lost the strength to oppose any pressure. That explains why breaches have occurred in this vital structure around the river,” he said.
Dr Lone said that breaches may have several other factors like plying of traffic, laying of water supply pipes and sever lines, besides plantation of poplar trees along the embankments.
He said the NIT will soon investigate other factors that led to the floods causing the devastation, which is unprecedented in Kashmir’s history.
“Ideally, no one could tamper with embankments or dig it or even plant trees, but the vandalism of this structure has been rampant that has led to the floods,” Dr Lone said.
“We will study all the factors very minutely,” he said, adding that that some of the preliminary causes are being discussed in the media, “but we will wait for our in-depth study.”
“Our study will also suggest measures to be taken to prevent further floods,” he said.
Dr Lone suggested that the embankments of Jhelum should be strengthened as the floods may have weakened them at spots not visible at the moment.
“The department concerned has to revisit the whole structure and see how to avoid any further breaches,” he added.