While Jhelum’s fury is still haunting the people of Kashmir, the recurrence of floods this year has delayed de-silting of the river.
Although, government of India has sanctioned Rs 399 crore for dredging of the river, the Irrigation and Flood Control department says dredging would be started in a major way after September this year.
Talking to us, Chief Engineer, I&FC, Javid Jaffar said it is not possible to go for major dredging operations in the summer months as the water level is high. “Further, post floods ground water level in Kashmir is high and incessant rains have not helped our cause either.”
He said that recurrence of floods and rise in water levels prevented them from going for major dredging of Jhelum, but after September this year they would carry dredging at various identified places as water level recedes.
“But despite odds, we are currently carrying dredging at 32 spots and our objective is to increase the outflow of Jhelum.”
Giving details about the sanctioned amount of Rs 399 crore, he said out of this Rs 140 crore would be utilized for removing obstructions in flood channel from Rambagh to Shariefabad.
“To increase the outflow of flood spill channel from Rambagh which is currently a few thousand cusecs, we have remove land mass, structures and acquire proprietary land for which we have earmarked Rs 140 crore,” he said, adding that after removing the bottlenecks, the outflow capacity of flood spill channel would increase and reduce flood threat in surrounding areas.
Referring to floods last year, the Chief Engineer said they were “unprecedented” which happens once in a lifetime and there is no way anyone could prepare for such disasters.
“Even if we spent Rs 20,000 crore on Jhelum, still we won’t be able to cope up with September-like floods when 1,15,000 cusecs of water passed through the river while it’s capacity is only 35,000 cusecs. After dredging we can enhance its capacity to maximum 80,000 cusecs,” he informed.
Responding to reports of weakened embankments, Jaffer said that during floods there were 70 breeches along embankments in Kashmir, but after that there were two times when the water level in Jhelum crossed danger mark but there was no report of any breeches.
“After floods last year, we laid emphasis on strengthening embankments,” he added.
Srinagar city bore the brunt of last year’s floods as habitations on both sides of Jhelum were submerged for several days. On September 7 last year, the water level in Jhelum broke all records— crossing 33 feet at Sangam in Anantnag and 23 feet at Ram Munshi Bagh here. Due to the deluge, tons of silt from mountainous catchments settled in the river, drastically affecting its carrying capacity and hydrological system. As a result, the water level in Jhelum increases after a few days of rainfall.