Jhelum gasps for breath as silt deposition swells

Expert says high time to increase its carrying capacity

Continuous rains for few days are enough for Jhelum water to touch the danger mark as presence of silt in the river has decreased its carrying capacity, experts said on Friday, day after the J&K government declared flood in the Valley.
A hydraulics expert said for the past several decades, layers of silt have deposited beneath the Jhelum water but the department of Irrigation and Flood Control has not maintained any data on this which could help in reaching at some logical conclusions to frame a flood control strategy.
“During the past 26 years (from 1986 to 2010), huge silt is deposited in Jhelum as no dredging took place, thus choking its capacity and decreasing the velocity of water outflow,” said Er Ajaz Rasool, environmentalist and hydraulics expert.
In 2010, the then Minister for Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohi-ud-Din had directed resumption of the Jhelum dredging process. “In 2010, two dredgers were purchased from USA-based Ellicott Dredges Company and pressed into service in Sopore and Baramulla. These were named as Soya-II and Budshah-II,” he said.
He said these dredgers were sought to increase the velocity of out-flowing water and allow its quick discharge.
“There was a lot pending work to be done. It was the deposited slit of past 26 years that was to be removed. After the 2014 devastating floods, the amount of silt deposited increased manifold,” Ajaz Rasool said.
“It is because of this that few days of rains, which otherwise could not have resulted in floods, fills up the river and triggers flash floods and making the water level touch the danger mark,” he told Kashmir Post.
He said he had opposed the idea of dredging in the Srinagar stretch and the manner it is presently being carried out from Pampore to Panzinara.
“I had raised various technical points when the proposal was discussed and asked authorities to respond. However, all these points were ignored,” he said.
He claimed that the ongoing dredging in Srinagar would yield no results as it is not being carried out in scientific ways and in the outflow channel.
Ajaz said: “With three days of rains, authorities come up with the bad news declaring that the water level in Jhelum has touched the danger mark. We need to increase the flow-capacity of water in Jhelum to ensure this situation is avoided,” he said.
Assistant Executive Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control department, Sartaj Singh said he was not aware about the present velocity of water flow in Jhelum. “Yes, it is 3 feet to five feet per-second in normal. But I don’t know what is the present velocity,” he said.
As reported earlier, the failure of authorities to complete dredging in river Jhelum and other water bodies in time has made things worse as quick discharge of flood waters would have controlled the levels to a large extent, according to experts.
Officials have admitted that the situation would have been different in case work was done by or before the deadline which ended in January 2017.
A Kolkata-based firm, which was given the dredging work, has dredged out only around one lakh cubic meters against the target of seven lakh cubic meters till January 2017.

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