2014 FLOOD AFTERMATH: Year on, Govt yet to plug bund breaches

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Residents of Batwara, Shivpora, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and other adjoining areas in civil lines here are up in arms against the authorities accusing them of failing to undertake “concrete work” to repair the bund breaches through which Jehlum entered into these areas in September 2014.

“Authorities took short term measures to plug the bund breaches which were caused by the 2014 deluge. Breaches were plugged using sand bags and mud. One year has passed since then. These breaches need to be taken care of permanently by using cement and other material,” locals told Greater Kashmir.

They said, “Lackadaisical attitude of the authorities towards strengthening the Jehlum embankments has disappointed us. We know it very well that our areas are not safe and if it rains for a few days water would seep into our areas through these breaches once again. Bunds have become weak and they should have been repaired at the war footing basis. It’s unfortunate that government has not woken up to address the crisis even after one year. It seems JK government is waiting for one more disaster.”

Residents of many civil line areas, which witnessed worst floods of the century last year, said, “ Even after one year our areas are still vulnerable.”

“During the past few months the water level in Jhelum has comparatively receded however government seems in no hurry to carry out the dredging work,” they added.

“Despite the passage of more than one year after floods hit Kashmir department of Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department is yet to take up dredging at crucial spots in Jhelum which can spell doom once again,” they added.

They said the minister for Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department had announced the dredging would start in the month of June. “His announcement remained confined to papers only. The department started tendering process in past months but the process got delayed for unknown reasons,” residents claimed.

The Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Kashmir department, Javid Jaffar told Greater Kashmir that they have started the manual dredging on various spots of river Jhelum besides some flood channels. “Dredging is going on at various spots and we have removed two lakh cubic meters from river from these spots,” he said, adding that the process is going on at various spots like, Khanbal, Botengo, Sangam,, Halmoola, Pampore, Srinagar, Noor Bagh and other areas as well.

“Simultaneously machine dredging will be used in river for which the contract is in final stage,” Jaffar said, adding that machine dredging would be started as a continuous process. “That will be on throughout the year. Manual dredging is carried out depending on the water level at these spots. Where ever we see low water level we are using embankment or directly removing silt from the river,” he added.

He said manual dredging was an immediate relief to increase the intake capacity of the river. “We are pressing our manpower or do auction of some spots and clean the remove the silt,” the Chief engineer said.

Officials in the department said various spots are still left where embankments yet to be restored permanently. “Even the department had some apprehensions of breach in some embankments during the rains in the month of June,” officials said, adding that there was no particular time set to start the dredging of Jhelum on scientific lines to increase its carrying capacity.

Pertinently the government had claimed to construct a new flood spill channel of 60000 cusecs capacity from Sangam to Wullar Lake, carry out dredging of Jhelum and flood spill channel to increase their capacity from the present 40000 cusecs to 60000 cusecs, and widen the existing flood spill channel. “Government is yet to finalize the dredging in Jhelum as it has remained caught in official works and meetings,” officials said.

An official report prepared in the aftermath of September 2014 floods had recommended immediate de- siltation programme both for river Jhelum and its tributaries as the carrying capacity of water bodies heavily decreased post deluge.

Minister for I&FC Sukhnandan Kumar said they have started the tendering process for the machine dredging of Jhelum and the project would be executed within this month.

“Tender has been issued in favor of an outside company and we have completed all the formalities regarding the project,” Kumar said, adding that the project has been finalized by the contract committee of the department. “The file will be sent to Chief Minister’s office within two days and later machine dredging would be started on Jhelum after the approval of the Chief Minster,” he said.

Source: Greater Kashmir

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