Srinagar: I cannot clear the mess created by previous governments in a few months, says irrigation and flood control minister Sukhnandan Kumar. He was replying to Kashmir Reader’s question on what steps did his government take to reduce flood risk.
Sukhnandan said the state government has chopped off 100,000 poplar trees along the banks of various water bodies and plugged breaches in embankments. As New Delhi has not released a penny of the promised Rs 44,000-crore financial assistance, cutting trees is probably the only task the state government could accomplish with its meagre resources.
Various experts from India and parliamentary panels which visited the Valley after the flood had recommended dredging of the Jhelum and flood spill channel for increasing their capacity besides freeing these water bodies of encroachments and restoring lost wetlands. None of these have been carried out.
Sukhnandan, however, said the government will start dredging of Jhelum and flood channel soon. Bidding for dredging has been completed and in a few days one of three bidders would be selected, he added. The carrying capacity of the two will increase to 60,000 cusecs from the current 35,000 cusecs.
Jhelum’s current carrying capacity, he said, is between 27,000 cusecs and 28,000 cusecs against its actual capacity of 40,000 cusecs. At 5,000 cusces, the flood channel’s current capacity is far less than its actual capacity of 17,000 cusecs.
However, experts have said that if the discharge of 120,000 cusecs witnessed during the flood is taken into consideration, even the 60,000-cusec capacity is any big achievement. In fact, when flood threats were announced twice this year, the discharge in Jhelum was more than 60,000 cusecs.
Asked what government has been doing during the past six months on other fronts, such as removal of encroachments and restoration of wetlands, he said, “I cannot clear this mess created by previous ministers in just a few months. Ask Taj Mohiudin (former irrigation minister) what he did when he was a minister? Since I took over, I have been busy clearing the mess he and others have created. They allowed encroachments for votes.”