Izhar Nazir Ali/ Junaid Nabi Bazaz
Srinagar: Three days after Srinagar was put on flood alert, education minister Naeem Akhter Thursday declared Kashmir safe. But, the official who monitors the Jhelum and its tributaries says the threat remains.
Speaking on the sidelines of a function here, Akhtar said, “Our Tulip Garden will be thrown open tomorrow and there will be blossoms everywhere, and through media, I invite everybody from across the world to visit Kashmir, which, because of the rains, will be a much greener place and a much better place to come to.”
However, chief engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Javid Jaffar said, “The chances of floods are still there. The Jhelum at Ram Munshi Bagh gauge is flowing at 16 feet, which is an alarm level. We’re also expecting moderate rainfall that could further increase the water level.”
The overnight rains in the plains led to a steep rise in the water level of river Jhelum on Thursday, while the water level in the Dal Lake crossed the alert level, triggering panic among the inhabitants.
The rains started on Wednesday night and raised the water level at three gauges along the length of Jhelum considerably, officials told Kashmir Reader Thursday. At Sangam, the water level was recorded at 14.40 feet at 7pm, a rise of 2.40 feet during the past 24 hours. Similarly, Ram Munshi Bagh was at 16 feet, a rise of 1.40 feet and Asham at 11.33 feet, a rise of .25 feet in the past 24 hours.
In Srinagar, the sun shone briefly, even as a rainfall of .1 mm was recorded since 8:30am by the weather department. Kupwara in north Kashmir received .7 mm rains.
When asked about the increase of water in the Dal Lake, Jaffar said that it was because of the Ram Munshi Bagh gate of the Lake was closed due to high water level in the Jhelum.
“Nallah Amir Khan has already been thrown open. However, Brari Nambal, another exit gate of Dal waters has been closed since the Jhelum is flowing at 16 at the Ram Munshi Bagh. So, the water gets exit from only one gate and that is the reason for high water level in Dal,” he said.
While the gradual rise in the Dal Lake caused concern among the local residents, the officials of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LWWDA) dismissed the imminent threat of floods.
Vice-chairman LWWDA Sarmad Hafeez told Kashmir Reader that the situation was not alarming in the Dal Lake where the water level has reached 12.1 feet, a rise of 1 inch in the past 24 hours.
Director meteorological department Sonam Lotus told Kashmir Reader that the Valley will receive moderate rains, thundershowers during the next 24 hours.
“The weather on Thursday remained over all well. We had moderate rainfall during Wednesday night. However, there is buildup of clouds and it will lead to moderate rainfall during Thursday night. In afternoon, the weather will remain fine,” he said.
He said that weather conditions will improve to a greater extent from April 4.