Editorial: Failed city drainage 

Modernity of any city is gauged by various parameters and drainage facilities are considered as one of the basic qualifying agents for achieving a developed status.

However, if we talk of Srinagar City vis-à-vis its drainage facilities, the city may not be able to qualify for a full developed City status even for the next 50 years.

Srinagar City’s drainage system has over the years gone from bad to worse. Few hours of downpour are enough to waterlog and flood the streets of Srinagar city. All this can be attribute to the inefficient drainage system.

The city’s most populated areas, like Maisuma, Regal Chowk, MA Road or old City areas like Khanyar, Eidgah, Noorbagh and many others get inundated just by a few hours of rains or snowfall.

This suggests that the city’s drainage has been ignored and the negligence needs to be fixed at an earliest. What we have been told is that the officials of the state have set a target of putting in place 90 per cent of the required ‘proper drainage system’ in Srinagar in the next five years. All this is being planned with financial assistance from the World Bank and government of India.

Over the years, the state government initiated a number of drainage schemes in Kashmir, but lack of funds aborted most of them.

Now, under the centrally-sponsored Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme and with the World’s Bank’s financial support, the government intends to have 90 per cent of the drainage system in place in Srinagar by 2021.

Presently, only 37 per cent of the Srinagar city has drainage system. Under AMRUT scheme, the centre will provide Rs 390 crore in the next five years for drainage system in Srinagar. For this Rs 300 crore will be provided by the World Bank for the project.

It is reliably learnt that around 500 drainage schemes were started in Kashmir over the years, but only less than 200 of them have been completed due to paucity of funds.

However, all said and done, the city’s drainage problems lie in the fact that a number of agencies are working for drainage and sewage de-water logging in the city but the results are dismal so much so if the present state of affairs continues, it will not be a distant day when the city of Srinagar gets inundated again owing to water logging in the drains most of which are already choked and dysfunctional.

The State’s Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) is executing majority of these schemes through Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) and National Project Construction Corporation (NPCC). Then there is the Srinagar Municipal Corporation also doing something in the area.

The Central Government under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is also contributing financially towards the betterment of drainage system in the city.

However, there is no visible impact on the ground in the drainage system of the city. The position today is that more than half of the drainage and sewage works that had to be completed years ago remain incomplete and pose a threat to the city of Srinagar. Choked drain water will spill over to the roads and streets and Srinagar city may be faced with yet another threat of inundation. Will the authorities wake up to the impending danger or the official apathy will spell another disaster for the historic city in coming months.

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