Authorities sit on restoration of flood spill channels

Flood control authorities have done little to clear the flood spill channel of sediments and encroachments, which will go a long way in minimising flood threat to Srinagar.
The little restoration work at a few places is not enough if a flood of the scale of 2014 hits the Valley, say experts.
The channel starts from Padshahi bagh and flows into Wullar Lake in Bandipora district. It regulates Jhelum water level while it passes through Srinagar city.
“This needs to be restored to its original area by removing deposited sediments by way of mechanical excavators, and amphibious excavators in case it has water. This would also require removing the encroachments that have taken place and restoring embankments to a height on the basis of highest flood level recorded in 2014 floods,” said Aijaz Rasool, a hydraulics expert.
He added that waterway channels in Srinagar such as Chuntikol, Sonarkol and Kitekol, which served as navigation channels in the city till the time road transport facilities arrived, should also be cleared off silt through mechanized excavators.
“These will go a long way in bypassing flood waters in future.”
In May, this year, in a bid to avert flood threat to Srinagar, authorities have expedited the process for restoration of Narbal flood spill channel to increase its carrying capacity. The work was started and expedited under the directions and supervision of the then irrigation and flood control chief engineer Muhammad Hanief Lone.
During his tenure as chief engineer, he had also initiated various measures to safeguard the city from any future floods. Presently, Lone is chief engineer UEED.
The present capacity of the flood spill channel to carry water is around 4,000 cusecs in Srinagar and it decreases further while moving towards northern Kashmir. The restoration, he initiated, was aimed to increase its water carrying capacity up to 20,000 cusecs through various phases.
“The flood control department has removed some encroachments from the flood spill channel at Narbal and done some desilting but it is still far from the desired flow capacity. No work has been yet done for restoring navigation channels of Srinagar city,” said Aijaz Rasool.
He added that the selective dredging of Wullar Lake under the comprehensive management action plan is also pending.
“The augmentation of Jhelum dredging at outflow channel from Sopore to Baramulla to enhance flow capacity is on the hold because tenders floated for procurement of dredgers in 2015 have not seen any forward movement. These activities are imperative for increasing the flow capacity of water in river Jhelum to prevent floods,” he said.
Executive engineer flood spill channel Sirajudin said that work was not started in Srinagar due to some dispute with contractor.
“It took us around one year to resolve the issue with the contractor. He will start work next month,” he said.

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