Srinagar: Former Indian ambassador to various countries Ajai Malhotra today said that rapid and unplanned urbanization, encroachment of Valley wetlands and flood basins, and deforestation in the Jhelum River basin leading to silt accumulation in Srinagar’s water bodies primarily contributed towards the 2014 devastating floods that wreaked havoc in Srinagar and other areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Malhotra said this while delivering a sponsored special lecture on “Tackling the Climate Change Confronting India,” organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Central University of Kashmir (CUK) at Nowgam-I academic block of the varsity.
Former vice-chancellor, University of Kashmir and Pondicherry University, Prof. Jalees Ahmad Khan Tareen presided over the function wherein CUK Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mehraj ud Din, Registrar, Prof M Afzal Zargar, Controller of Examinations, Dr. Nazir a Gilkar, Deans of various Schools, Head and Coordinators of other departments, and students were also present.
He said, “Houses have been built on floodplains and river beds, making drainage systems inadequate and reducing natural water storage areas. Channels leading into nearby wetlands have narrowed considerably over the last century due to encroaching structures. Nallahs have been replaced by roads and shops, wetlands have metamorphosed into residential colonies,” adding that reviving Srinagar’s natural drainage channels to serve as water drain is hugely important.
“An effective early warning system and accompanying response plan would be also crucial,” he further said.
Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mehraj ud Din while addressing the gathering said, “Those who are young, might not be aware about the demography of Kashmir and Srinagar in particular, what it was 30 years back. Citing an example of Nalae Maaer, he said “we used to see the boats carrying vegetables and rowing from one place to another in clear water. Now today it is in the form of a road on which houses and shops have been constructed around it.