Srinagar: The memory of the September 2014 deluge is still fresh in the minds of the people living across the length and breadth of Kashmir Valley. The cascade was so powerful that almost all of the historic Srinagar city faced the wrath of the raging Jhelum river.
Almost four years have now passed and the promises and resolutions the government had adopted to take measures to control any such eventuality have proved nothing more than mere assertions.
The government as of now is trying to get a development plan of Srinagar city approved. The plan titled master plan-2035, put together by the government ignores lessons from the 2014 floods that hit Srinagar and southern Kashmir. The large-scale destruction wrought by those floods was widely attributed to haphazard development in Srinagar and other urban areas over decades.
The Master Plan for development of the Srinagar Metropolitan Region, which was open for public consultation until mid-August, is due to be finalised by the end of October.
The plan does envisage some new infrastructure development in flood-prone areas where homes, shops and government offices have already been built. The plan proposes solutions for all potential problems, including flooding.
However, the plan fails to provide a solution to the threats of floods in case the rivers and tributaries surrounding Srinagar and other areas do swell up beyond expectations. In such a case it is only disaster that will be once again hitting the all important habitations of the Valley.
The government tends to forget with ease the disasters and its impact it has on the lives of the people. A case in point is the Ladakh region which witnessed a devastating flood in 2010. In the aftermath of the floods in Ladakh, a survey was conducted by experts to ascertain the reason for devastation of that magnitude.
The study revealed that actually it was several overflowing nulllahs and rivers that were unable to contain the quantum of water coming down the heights and broke the banks and inundated the habitats on the sidelines. Consequently, the suggestion came that the vulnerable nullahs and rivers needed to be restrained in a way that the risk of their once again overflowing and causing damage is mitigated once for all.
It was in the light of this policy that a study of all the five nullahs was conducted and Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) were prepared and submitted to the Union Water Resource Ministry.
Though a comprehensive report on each nullah has been prepared the state government has not been able to provide its share of funds towards the implementation of the projects.
Apart from funding aspect, the weak point as we see is the slackness and lethargy of the concerned Government department or agencies to work out and execute a plan so that no such disasters happen in future. Today the government and its agencies have time to act so they should without wasting any more of it try to get their act together. Tomorrow may be too late.