I&FC blames ‘unknown water source’, residents allege illegal sand excavation
Kaiser Majeed / Junaid Manzoor
Srinagar: The caving-in of the Jhelum embankment at Lasjan Bypass has raised eyebrows against the “callousness” of the Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department, with local residents alleging that its officials have facilitated illegal sand excavation at the site.
The residents have also alleged that the embankment had a weak, porous base which the department had been consistently ignoring.
“The I&FC officials with the help of a local contractor would excavate sand till late evening, despite knowing there are piers supporting the bridges and it could result in a mishap,” a group of local residents who talked to Kashmir Reader said.
Panicked by the collapse, residents said that the authorities haven’t learnt any lessons from the 2014 flood. Had the water level been high at this time, the entire area would have been flooded, they said.
“The embankment had a weak base, but the department continued construction works. The embankment has crumbled because of their selfishness,” a resident said.
However, Junior Engineer I&FC Mohammad Ayub Baba told Kashmir Reader that the reason for embankment’s disintegration was soil erosion caused by an unknown water source beneath it.
Refuting the allegations of illegal sand excavation, Chief Engineer I&FC Shahnawaz Ahmed said they have contacted the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department and the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) regarding the unknown water source which, he also said, caused the crumbling of the bund.
“It will take 20 to 25 days for temporary restoration of the bund. And we will restore it by using latest geo bags which have proved to be successful at other places as well,” he said.
Local residents, however, said that the embankment had collapsed earlier too and was restored simultaneously, without addressing the core problem of an unknown water source beneath the embankment.
“They didn’t do anything about it at that time and didn’t repair the damaged base and continued the construction from the upper side, leaving loose soil which resulted in the collapse of river bed,” they said, adding, “Almost a hundred tippers would ply daily on the bund to carry the excavated mud and sand, weakening the bund.”
SMC’s Executive Engineer for city drainage Imtiyaz Ahmed told Kashmir Reader that there was no drainage leak near the site.
“The water is clean and hence can’t be sewage water. We checked it ourselves. There was a leakage some time ago in the water pipe beneath, but PHE had taken care of it,” Ahmad said.