Srinagar: A large portion of Jhelum embankment caved in on January 24 this year near Pantha Chowk-Lasjan area of Srinagar, triggering scare among the local population. The mishap happened after the local administration failed to check the movement of heavy vehicles that were using the embankment to carry out the silt and sand that is being currently excavated from the river bed.
The locals living around the embankment felt so frightened that most of the people fled the scene as it presented a catastrophic look that was frightening for all who witnessed it. However, fortunately enough the embankment caved in at a time when the water level in the river Jhelum was at its lowest ebb owing to the dry weather conditions prevalent in the Valley since the past several months.
Though the government ordered an inquiry into the incident, which of course has been set in motion, the larger question remains, as why did the administration remained silent till the mishap happened. If the locals are to be believed then they have already brought the issue of use of the embankment for heavy vehicular traffic to the notice of the administration, but no action was taken.
The DDC Srinagar who is the inquiry officer in the matter, decided that a joint team of officers from I&FC, Geology & Mining, PHE, R&B and Revenue departments will conduct an inspection of the spot in order to ascertain the reasons behind the caving in of the embankment. The inspection team will be headed by the DDC himself.
Even though disasters have been taking place in the state and this time around it was a manmade disaster which could have proven too dear to the entire population in Srinagar if the water level would have been alarming or even high.
Climate change has been an emerging challenge to the world as such. However, as we belong to the third world order we seem to be contributing more in speeding up these disasters rather than helping to curtail them down to a minimum.
The September 2014 deluge has been one disaster that has left an indelible mark on the memories of the people here. But as far as the government is concerned they have learned no lessons.
The Lasjan episode is just the tip of the iceberg. The river Jhelum and its embankments are being compromised with every passing day, but the officials and other agencies concerned have not been taking things seriously. The Jhelum embankment right from Khanabal to Khadinyar is so fragile that a situation like that of September 2014 will spell disaster that too of a greater magnitude.
The government and its agencies have not bothered to have a plan in place where a survey could have been done to ensure that the embankments all along the river should have been strengthened.
However, on the contrary its opposite is being done. This mindset needs a change as disasters take very little time to maim vast geographical areas.