Srinagar, Mar 30, 2015 (Eco Kashmir): Government has declared the Kashmir region flooded as River Jhelum has crossed the danger level and many other small rivers are flowing menacingly high following the incessant rains for the past two days.
All the schools, colleges and universities across the Kashmir valley have been closed till the situation improves while repair-work on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway has also got stalled by fresh landslides leaving hundreds stranded.
Meanwhile police have recovered eight bodies saying another dozen people are feared dead in the central district of Budgam because of house-collapsing even as more than 350 people in the landslide-prone areas across Kashmir had already been taken to safer places. Metrological department has predicted more rains till the 4th of April.
Javid Jaffer, Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Kashmir said that Jhelum has crossed the danger mark of 22 feet at Sangam in south Kashmir while a flood-monitoring device in Ram Mushibagh in Srinagar has crossed the danger mark of 18 feet.
“If more rains occur, as predicted by the metrological department, the flood situation will worsen. But, if light rains occur intermittently, then we may get away from any severe flooding,” Jaffer said.
Following the inputs from the Flood Control department, the government declared that Kashmir has been flooded and “people living in low lying areas, especially in and around Jhelum have been advised to move to safer areas.” Government officials said that around 50 structures and three bridges have been damaged so far in the floods. However, no one has so far been killed by the flood waters.
The central government has sent a high-level team to Kashmir for monitoring the situation and has also deputed a 100-member team of National Disaster Management Force (NDMF) to Kashmir.
With the flood-control infrastructure in Kashmir wanting update and repair-work for years now, continuous rains for even 36 hours turn out to be sufficient for flooding Kashmir.
The carrying capacity of the Flood Spill Channel (FSC) and River Jhelum (43,000 cusec (cubic feet per second) is quite insufficient with the water bodies and wetlands across Kashmir also not in a position to hold the surplus water. “Earlier our wetlands like Hokersar used to hold rains for more than 72 hours, but these days its capacity has got reduced to just around 18 hours,” Jaffer said.
The 43,000 capacity of flood channels in Kashmir including Jhelum was way short of the 1, 15,126 cusec which flowed through River Jhelum during the September 2014 floods.
It is not only the flooding which is staring Kashmir at its face, landslides in various areas have been a huge concern over the past few weeks. In recent weeks five people including a minor were killed in landslides across Kashmir. And today eight people were declared dead in house-collapsing as land sunk in Chadora area of Budgam. Police said that over a dozen are still trapped in the debris.
A devastating flood, which was described by Global Catastrophe Recap as the costliest disaster of 2014, had ruined property worth USD 16 billion besides killing more than 300 people in the region last year.
Experts have warned that such events will occur with more frequency in future because of climate change.