Srinagar: With the worst floods in a century causing devastation in Kashmir, the people in the Valley want the government to improve the drainage system by acting against illegal constructions and encroachments on the banks of the rivers and other water bodies.
Most of the people complain of a “faulty” system to drain out water from many areas of the Valley especially Srinagar city, alleging the government was “sleeping” over the issue.
“There is no drainage system in place. Whatever little there is, it is faulty. It does not drain out water,” Rashid Ahmad Malik, a resident of Jawahar Nagar, said.
Malik said the failure of such a system can be gauged by the fact that even when there is slight rain for a day or two, many areas of the city get inundated.
“Whenever there is rain, many areas get inundated as the water gets trapped in the absence of an efficient drainage system and the authorities have to use water pumps to drain it out manually,” he said.
People are not only concerned about an efficient system to drain out water in the city but also want the government to have the flood spill channels in the Valley that are free from any encroachments and handle the kind of water discharge as witnessed during the recent floods.
“Earlier, Kashmir had flood channels and whenever there was a rise in the water levels in the rivers like Jhelum, the water was discharged to other water bodies and we were saved from the kind of destruction we just experienced,” Riyaz Ahmad Khan, a resident of Bemina, said.
Khan said there has been massive encroachment at many places on the banks of various river bodies and the government was not dealing with those the way it should.
“There are many illegal structures – few of them even inside the flood spill channels. Many government offices have come inside or near those channels. They have been choked leaving a little room for water to discharge. But the government is sleeping over the issue. It should act against them and remove those structures,” Khan said.
In 2007, the state government had submitted to the Centre a Rs. 2,200 crore project for construction of a second flood spill channel from Sangam in Anantnag district in south Kashmir to Wullar Lake in Bandipora district in north Kashmir and Rs 97 crore were released for it in 2010.
“There were some arguments back and forth but the project has not yet been sanctioned,” state Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, said, expressing hope that it would be sanctioned sooner than the later.
The proposed second flood spill channel has the capacity to hold 1,20,000 cusec water that Jhelum river carried on September 6 which inundated large parts of the Valley.
Even though the authorities admit there were illegal structures and encroachment on the banks of River Jhelum which were also responsible for the floods, they say the Valley needs a broader plan for water discharge.
“It is essential for the whole Valley to have a flood management project,” Secretary, Flood Control Department, Pawan Kotwal said.
He said the funds released by the Centre in 2010 were used for dredging the existing flood channel, which enhanced its capacity by 9,000 cusec.
“We have also carried out dredging in River Jhelum downstream at Baramulla, increasing the capacity of the river there to 30,000 cusec. This saved Baramulla town and surrounding areas from getting inundated,” Kotwal said.