SRINAGAR: Just four days of rain has exposed that the state government has not done effective work to prevent floods. In 2014, three days of rain led the river Jhelum to spill over all across Kashmir. This year, with much less rainfall, the situation was nearly the same.
One of the government’s plans to prevent 2014-like floods was to increase the water carrying capacity of river Jhelum and the flood spill channel by dredging out silt. It engaged a Kolkata-based company at a cost of Rs 280 crore to do this. The work never really took off, with problems in contract, lack of labourers, and practical problems coming in the way of effective dredging.
However, M Raju, Secretary of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, claimed that the work done in the past three years prevented floods to a large extent this year. He said the Jhelum’s water carrying capacity has increased by 4000 cusecs, while that of the flood channel by 5000 cusecs.
“Dredging has increased the depth of river and flood channel by between 2 feet and 3 feet. This has increased river’s capacity from 27000 to 32000 cusecs, and flood channel’s from 4000 to 9000 cusecs. This is far more than the target,” Raju said.
“This year, the intensity of rainfall was high. That led to increase in the water levels,” Raju added.
Data provided by the Meteorological department contradicts Raju’s claim. Average rainfall in the past four days in Qazigund was just 27mm, compared to 620mm in 2014. In Srinagar city, the average rainfall was 40mm, compared to 173mm in 2014. At Kokarnag and Pahalgam, it was 33mm and 27mm these past four days.
When told about this data, Raju said he was busy in a meeting.
Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control, Shahnawaz did not respond to calls made by this newspaper.