September 2014 haunts Valley

September 2014 haunts Valley
  • Jhelum breaches ‘alarm’ mark on Ram Munshi Bagh gauge in Srinagar; DC asks people living along Jhelum banks to move the elderly and children to safer places
  • Relief minister says flood-like situation in Baramulla; panic everywhere else in the Valley
  • Met office predicts heavy rain till Monday afternoon, says rainfall will decrease and pose no danger after April 2
  • Mufti rushes to Srinagar, urges people not to panic

Srinagar: With the devastation caused by last year’s flood still lingering in their minds, people in the Valley were readying themselves for any eventuality even before Deputy Commissioner Srinagar said the Jhelum breached the “alert” level in the capital on Sunday night.
The Jhelum crossed the 16-feet mark, which prompts officials to sound a flood alert, at Rammunhshi Bagh gauge on Sunday night.
“All emergency services have been pressed into service to meet the eventuality of a flood,” deputy commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone was quoted by a news agency as saying.
He advised people living along the banks of River Jhelum to remain vigilant and shift the elderly and children to safer places.
“If Jhelum crosses the 18-feet mark at Ram Munshi Bagh, then situation of flood will be declared and if God forbid it crosses the 23-feet it will be considered a danger level,” he said.
He said authorities have established relief tents at Marriage Hall at Sanat Nagar and at EDI Pampore.
Since the Valley is yet to recover from the devastation caused by the floods in September last year, the torrential rains triggered panic among even as the government said there was no such threat as of now.
The panic was reinforced by a notion that it will rain continuously for the next four days as also by rumours that water level in rivers and its tributaries was rising alarmingly.
Many people took to social media networking sites to warn people about complacency and reminded them that the previous government too had initially allayed the fears of a flood.
The flood control department cited water level at three places along the course of Jhelum to indicate that it was flowing well below the danger mark.
At 6pm, the water level in the river as recorded on a gauge at Sangam in south Kashmir was 16 feet, 5 feet below the level at which it becomes a flood threat. In Srinagar, the water level in the river was recorded at 15 feet, 5 feet below the red mark, but only 1 foot away from ‘alarm’ stage, at Ram Munshi Bagh gauge. At Asham, in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, the gauge reading was 9 feet, five below the danger mark.
But late in the night, the guage read 16 feet at Ram Munshi Bagh.
Director meteorological department Sonam Lotus said moderate to heavy rain would occur in most of the state, and it would snow in the hills. The current western disturbance that has brought abundant rainfall in its wake will remain active till Monday. After that, he said, the rainfall will decrease and pose no danger.
“Every rainfall or snowfall cannot cause a flood…I don’t see a flood threat, but we need to watch for any sudden rise in mountain streams that can cause damage locally or trigger landslides,” he said.
The Met office said the highest rainfall (73.2mm) was recorded in Kupwara, followed by while Srinagar witnessed 57mm, Banihal 47mm and Qazigund 44mm of rainfall.
About 44 structures, including 18 residential houses, were reportedly damaged due to landslides caused by heavy rainfall in the Valley, eight of these in Chontinar village of Budgam district alone. A bridge each in Kunzar and Wagoora villages in north Kashmir were damaged by flash floods.
Minister of state for flood control Abdul Majid Paddar ruled out flood threat, while a special control room has been set up at the Police Control Room, Srinagar, to monitor the situation round the clock. The people can contact on telephone numbers 2452138 or 2474040 in case of any emergency.
The Valley’s only road link to the rest of the world, the 300-km Srinagar-Jammu highway, which remained closed intermittently this month, was blocked at several places due to landslides triggered by rains.
Inspector general of traffic JP Singh said, “Although we had repaired the highway, landslides struck at four places from Nasri to Chanderkote. While at Malrkote 10-15 meters of road has been completely washed away.”
He said only 100 vehicles are stranded on the highway, and it will take at least two days for repairs if weather remains clear.
Air traffic remained normal, said Srinagar airport superintendent of police airport Manzoor Ahmad Dalal.