JUNAID NABI BAZAZ/ MUSHTAQ AHMAD
SRINAGAR/BARAMULLA: On Thursday morning, Masood Shah, a resident of Methan Chanapora in Srinagar, woke up to see his courtyard filled with rainwater. He stepped out of home to see if any help was nearby. From the gate he saw that the street and the entire locality was submerged in water. He stepped back into his house and dialled fire and emergency services for help.
“When the water level was increasing, like it did during the 2014 flood situation, I called the fire and emergency services. The official who picked up the phone said that once a fire tender is available, it will be sent. More than five hours have passed but no help has come. The entire area is submerged,” Shah told Kashmir Reader on phone. “I have begun to remove household items to the first floor of my house,” he added.
Residents of almost all low-lying areas in Srinagar and several across the Valley are facing the same situation as Shah in Chanapora. Household goods are being shifted to upper storeys and in single-storey houses are being moved out to safer locations. Businessmen are busy in shifting their merchandise to safer places.
In low-lying areas of Srinagar like Mehjoornagar, Shivpora, Rajbagh, Bemina and Chanapora, water has entered inside homes. Abdul Rasheed, who lives in Mehjoornagar, told Reader that as soon as the water began accumulating, people living in one-storey houses left with household items to homes of their relatives.
“Mehjoornagar has a hotel with 90 rooms. People are contacting its owner for a room in case the situation turns ugly,” Rasheed said.
In Purnibal area of Shivpora, locals said, water first started accumulating from drains and then from a leakage in a water supply pipe.
“Throughout the day, the area filled with water from these two sources. It kept accumulating till our courtyards were filled. The leakage in the pipe has not been fixed since the 2014 floods, despite many reminders. Fire tenders that were put in place for help have not proved sufficient,” Ali Mohammad, a resident of the area, said.
At Bemina, one of the worst-hit areas during the 2014 floods, inundation began on Thursday morning. Most of the houses have water in their courtyards and the inhabitants are waiting both for the water to recede and for the rain to stop.
A local of the area said that the waste of the entire area is taken out through an open drain which has not been cleaned for a decade. “The drain can play an important role when heavy rainfall takes place, but during a flood situation it is the main reason for inundation. Only half the drain is covered while the rest lies open,” he said.
Deputy Director of Fire and Emergency Services Srinagar, Mohammad Akbar, told Reader that he cannot help everybody because of the shortage of fire tenders and water pumps. “I have 31 tenders in the city; I cannot use all of them because I have to keep some reserved to tackle a fire incident. Norms allow only 20 percent of tenders to be used for dewatering but I have used up 80 percent,” he said.
Just a few meters away from the civil secretariat, streets were under water throughout the day despite water pumps installed for pumping out the water. At Jahangir Chowk, many vehicles had been submerged. Shopkeepers were on toes throughout the day to prevent a disaster.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, several areas including Khawajabagh, Friends Colony, Azadgung, Main Chowk, Deluna, Sheeri, Sangrama, Chakla, Nadihal, Janbazpora, Stadium Colony and Kreeri, were submerged under accumulated rain water.
In Sopore and Pattan, locals said that many villages were submerged under water from the incessant rain, including Model Town A, B and C, Sheer Colony, Noorbagh, Chankhan, Ceelo, Botango, Achabal, Ladoora, Seer Jagir, Andergam, Palpora, main town Pattan, and Palhalan.
As the water level was swelling in the Jhelum, locals said that water entered most of the houses in Sheer Colony Sopore. People used boats to shift their families to safer places, locals said.
At Hygam, Rengi, and Nayeedkhay, boats were used to shift people to safer places when the water level began increasing in the Jhelum and in nearby water streams.