Srinagar: Water level in the river Jhelum has for the first time been recorded as negative at the Sangam gauge site in Anantnag. The water level has receded to a record low of more than minus half foot.
According to the department’s Facebook page, the river has sunk to the negative side of the measuring scale for almost a month now, with its level recorded on Sunday being the lowest so far at -0.55.
Explaining this phenomenon, Imityaz Ahmad, Assistant Executive Engineer with the Planning and Design wing of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, told Kashmir Reader that water levels are measures using gauge plates that are set with respect to mean sea level taking a baseline zero in the river as a starting point. The gauges come handy to check the river condition for flood threats and in times of floods.
-0.55: Water-level reading on Sunday. One unit is of one foot. Minus 0.55 is more than six inches below level zero.
NEARLY A MONTH NOW that the water-level has been negative.
NEVER BEFORE has the water level in Jhelum been recorded as negative in any year.
SANGAM GAUGE SITE in Anantnag is the crucial site for testing ‘mood’ of river. It is where the major tributaries from south Kashmir join the Jhelum.
LEVEL HIGHER at gauge sites in Srinagar because of weir at Chhattabal and at Asham because of Wular Lake.
34.70 FEET was recorded at Sangam, highest-ever reading, during September 2014 floods.
SCANTY RAIN, DRY WEATHER main reason. Most tributaries of Jhelum running dry.
“The gauge plate also has a negative side that determines levels below our set zero. It is for the first time that we at Sangam gauge site have been witnessing a drop towards the negative side,” he said.
“Our calibrated gauge scales have one length of one foot equated into ten points on the same scale. Minus 0.55 foot comes to more than six inches on the negative side. This is not more than six feet as reported in some quarters,” he said.
According to official, this slide could be attributed to the prolonged dry spell this year. The Jhelum’s main tributaries from Pir Panjal have been running dry due to scant rain.
The official clarified that the river level going into negative does not mean that it has dried up.
The department maintains gauge sites at various places across the river, with Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar and Asham in Bandipora being two key sites.
The readings at Ram Munshi Bagh on Sunday were2.60 ft and at Asham 1.25 ft.
Asked about the higher water level in Srinagar, the assistant engineer said that the higher level is because of the weir maintained at Chattabal. A similar phenomenon created by Wular lake accounts for the higher level at Asham.
The Sangam gauge site in Anantnag, however, is the crucial site that determines the river mood both in dry spell as well as during floods. Ahmed said that the site is at the confluence of the main river tributaries from south Kashmir. This site recorded the highest level at 34.70 feet in September 2014 when devastating floods occurred in Kashmir.
According to the Indian Metrological Department website for Jammu and Kashmir, since September last year up to end of December this year, Kashmir Valley has remained largely deficient in rain with 92 percent less rainfall.
The Met website also says that a fresh western disturbance is likely to affect the western Himalayan region from January 3 onwards.