Flood, earthquake ‘haunting threats’, need serious attention: Economic Survey Report

Marouf Ahmad Parray/Suhail Punjabi

Srinagar: Flood and earthquake are two “haunting threats” facing the people of Jammu and Kashmir and need serious attention, according to the latest Economic Survey Report.
While people, especially from Kashmir Valley, are still not coming to terms with the situation after the September deluge, the state is geographically at very risk to the seismic activity, it says.
“Most parts of the state covering districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Anantnag, Pulwama, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar fall under seismic zone V,” reads the report which was tabled recently in the Assembly.
The districts form about 11% total area of the state and house 50% of the total population of the region.
On the other hand, entire Ladakh and most districts of Jammu division, about 90% of total area of the state, fall under seismic zone IV.
The seismic zones indicate the status and susceptibility of different regions to earthquakes, and the Bureau of Indian Standards has ground them into four zones—II, III, IV and V. Of these, zone V is the most seismically active region followed by the zone IV.
“The area and properties in these zones is at high risk and therefore safety measures for public and private infrastructure are required to be taken in a sustained manner by all the stakeholders,” reads the report.
The floods have already wrecked havoc in the state and, as per the report, low laying areas continue to be at high risk.
“Low lying areas of the Valley especially Awantipora, Srinagar, Sonawari are prone to devastating floods anytime (along with) parts of Jammu province, which get high discharge during rains.”
Upper catchments of all the tributaries of Jhelum, Chenab, Indus and Tawi, it said, are prone to flash floods.
“The historical city of Srinagar which got submerged due to floods of September 2014 will require special focus for construction of flood protection infrastructure, dredging of rivers and development of one more flood spill channel to off load the main river from flood waters,” reads the report.
The insulation of the city and towns from floods, it said, “will be number one priority for the government in the coming years.”
Nearly 300 people died due to the devastating floods seven months ago and according to the official estimates, 2.5 lakh houses where either fully or partially damaged.
Due to the floods, the river embankments caved in, habitations were eroded while hospitals, schools, government offices besides many other buildings and infrastructure got almost completely damaged. More than 700 villages apart from most parts of this summer capital of the state remained submerged for many weeks together.
“6.48 lakh hectares of agricultural and horticultural land got affected (due to the deluge),” reads the report.
Agriculture and horticulture play an important role for the development of the J&K’s economy and more than 70% people get their livelihood directly or indirectly from these sectors.
The deluge, as per the report, reduced the food grain production in the state to 17.42 lakh metric tons in 2014-15 against 20.65 lakh MT during 2013-14. The food grain requirement of the state is 25 lakh MT, according to the Directorate of Agriculture Jammu. While the state annually faces shortage of 4.35 lakh MT food grains, the floods mounted the deficiency to 7.58 lakh MT.
The state government assessed overall damages at Rs 43,959.56 crore and with prior approval of state cabinet submitted the proposal to government of India for providing special financial assistance.
“Financial assistance is awaited from the government of India and the people of the state eagerly look forward for the financial help,” the report added.