Srinagar: Stung by the massive losses during 2014 floods, dozens of businessmen rushed to Lal Chowk and nearby markets last night and withdrew merchandise from the shops after the government declared flood in Srinagar and south Kashmir.
“We did not want risk anything this time as we are already facing economic slump since 2014 floods,” said Javid Ahmad, owner of a cellphone outlet at Hari Singh High street market.
Many of the shopkeepers who were emptying their shops had booked private vehicles and load carriers from downtown Srinagar.
Burhan Ahmad, owner of a cloth shop at the busy Gonikhan market, said he had hired three load carriers to haul the goods.
“I was awake the entire night. It is a mammoth task to remove the stock and then arrange a place for accommodating it,” he said.
“From Amira Kadal bridge I was watching two things, my mobile phone for flood updates and the river itself.
After 2pm the level did not rise and I went indoors but stayed awake,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The Batamaloo area, which houses shopping complexes, was water-logged in the evening creating scare among the shopkeepers. They immediately removed the stock to safer places to avoid losses.
A senior member of the coordination committee of traders of the commercial hub, Farhan Kitab, who owns a shop in Regal Chowk, said the flood scare is mainly because of 2014.
“We have a horrible experience as we suffered immense losses that year. No compensation was granted to traders community and the Rs 8000 crore announced have not been cleared yet,” Farhan said.
Instead of knee-jerk reactions, the government should take concrete measures such as removing encroachments along the catchment areas of water bodies,” he added.
Not only the businessmen but people living along the river and in low-lying areas also stayed awake. The government had asked people living along the rivers and streams to remain extra vigilant and evacuate elders and children to safer areas.
In Shivpora, Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Mehjoor Nagar and Bemina areas, which were the worst hit during 2014, local residents and government officials were monitoring the embankment along the water bodies.
Around 1 am, the officials from irrigation and flood department plugged the bund in Shivpora area after people who were out watching the water level on the bund spotted a developing breach.
“The spot was plugged by using sandbags by the officials, who were alert during the night,” said a resident in the area.
The residents said a leak in a water pipe along the bund created scare as the same pipe had a leak during the 2014 flood.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Jawhar Nagar, where people maintained a watch on the nearby flood spillover channel.
Many residents in these areas had taken the household belongings to upper floors to stay safe.
In Bandipora Hajin area, the people had a sleepless night as the irrigation and flood department, which has been carrying out some works along the Jehlum, had excavated the bund.
“People stayed awake and the officials used sandbags to plug any leak,” the residents said.