Failure to dredge Jhelum on scientific lines puts Kashmir at risk: Caution experts

Experts Tuesday cautioned that dredging project has not helped to address the problem of floods in any way and Kashmir stands at same stage where it had been post 2014 devastating floods.
They termed the dredging of Jhelum as “ill conceived project” and warned of consequences if immediate measures were not taken to correct the things.

“Dredging, the project of utter importance didn’t get the desired results. The incompetence of authorities to execute the project has added woes of a common man who is yet to come out of the shock of 2014 deluge,” said Munir Ahmad Mufti, a Kashmiri Mechanical Engineer presently working in Middle East.
Terming the project as “complete failure”, he said that there have been shortfalls at all levels mainly by the key decision makers starting from issuance of tender documents, award and monitoring of project progress.
“The tender documents were drafted in a very unprofessional way probably by people who did not have any idea of dredging projects. No surveys, no planning, no equipment preference, no design liabilities and other things were defined for pre-qualification,” he said.

He added that the award process was even more illogical as without any detailed technical evaluation mainly related to the equipment, methodology, manpower expertise, previous experience and backup plan, a first-time bidder with no clear technical capability was given the go ahead.

Aijaz Rasool, a hydraulic expert, said that dredging in Srinagar was an ill conceived project. “Besides being impracticable for want of availability of slurry holding areas in vicinity alongside the river shores; dredging in this flat reach would not achieve any increase in the flow carrying capacity of the river, an important objective for flood prevention,” he said.

He said that further deep dredging in this reach poses danger to stability of river embankments which could crumble and also threaten structural stability of buildings existing along shore.
“Whatever silt has been removed in the achievement of 17 percent of envisaged targets will be replaced by equivalent silt getting deposited no sooner than the dredging is done,” he said, adding, “This dredging has not helped to address the problem of floods in any way and we are still at same state stage as we were after 2014 floods.”

Speaking about the required measures to be taken to avoid floods, he said: “Enhance activity of maintenance dredging of out flow channel of River Jhelum at Sopore and Baramulla is important.”
He added that to carry out contingent selective dredging of Wular Lake as per its bathymetric profile to restore 30 percent of its volumetric storage capacity that has been lost to siltation over past three decades. “This activity is already approved in the Comprehensive Management Action Plan for Wular presently being implemented.”

Chief engineer I&FC Imtiyaz Ahmad Dhar was unavailable for comments.

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