2 back-to-back floods in 6 months indicate climate change: Expert

Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: Two back to back floods in Kashmir within the span of six month indicate changing weather pattern in the state, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
“There is no history in Kashmir that two floods have struck within the time period of six months,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general and the head of its climate change team.
“This is not normal. It is an unusual weather pattern. We would be asking our scientists to strongly examine this weather system. We can’t pass off the buck by blaming only western disturbances as the sole cause of this changing weather and severe flooding,” he said.
He said the cause of the natural disasters like flooding could “very well be the manifestation of an extreme weather event induced by a changing climate”.
The month of March, termed as the wettest in the past 100 years in north India, witnessed unprecedented heavy rains over the period of two days, forcing government to declare flood alert across the Valley.
So far, 16 people have lost their lives in Kashmir after landslides swept a few houses in village Laden in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Rains over seven days triggered massive floods in Kashmir in September 2014. The worst flood disaster recorded in a century left 280 persons dead and damaged infrastructure and businesses costing estimated 1 billion dollar.
Refering to future calamities, Bhushan said like past the scale of disaster in Kashmir would be “exacerbated by unplanned development especially on the riverbanks”.
“In the last 100 years, more than 50 per cent of the lakes, ponds and wetlands of Srinagar have been encroached upon for constructing buildings and roads. The banks of the Jhelum River have been taken over in a similar manner, vastly reducing the river’s drainage capacity. Naturally, these areas have suffered the most during the last floods,” he added.
Bhushan further said the Kashmir government has been ill prepared to handle extreme rainfall events.
“In fact, Kashmir does not have a flood forecasting system. Its disaster management system is also rudimentary,” he added.
Director meteorological department Sonam Lotus said this March has been the wettest in Kashmir.
“We can’t blame climate change for the extreme precipitation. It can be partly due to climate change and party due to the global weather phenomenon,” he said.
Lotus said in future Kashmir might witness more variability in rainfall.
“The unusual weather would demand from us more readiness and preparations to deal with changing mood of weather,” he added.