Why dredging Jehlum river in Srinagar makes the city vulnerable to the everlasting flood threat?

Srinagar: Despite four years have passed over since the devastating floods hit Kashmir in 2014, the looming threat of flood continues to haunt Kashmir whenever it rains heavily for a day or two.

The question arises if government claims to have spent crores of rupees on dredging the water bodies including the Jehlum, why the rivers and the streams surge with a day or two of heavy rains, thus creating a flood scare?

According to the Civil Engineer Iftikhar Drabu, nobody seems to be interested in the government to address the flood problem in Kashmir.

“As you know most of the top bureaucracy has no stakes in the valley because they do not have houses, or other property, and neither have any relatives here. So why would they be bothered to take care of the valley,” lamented Drabu.

The engineer termed the dredging of rivers, streams and flood channels undertaken by the government as “ill-conceived”.

“The hype around dredging is meant only to befool the innocent people. The government has no plan to address the flood problems,” Drabu claimed.

“The dredging of river Jhelum and flood channels is not going to serve the purpose and for me the money spent on such projects is just wastage of the money”.

Citing example of the river Jehlum, he said at a given time the river has the capacity to carry only 35,000 cusecs of water.

He said during the times of flood, 1,20,000 cusecs of water flows in the river.

“The question is how the dredging of Jhelum will bring respite and prevent floods. The fact is the river does not have the capacity to carry the flood discharge even if it is fully dredged”.

He said that in order to carry the flood discharge, we need three Jhelum’s instead of one.

“If you had looked at the flood spill channels yesterday, you would have noted that while no water flowing in it. But, Jhelum had crossed even the danger mark at several places. It is all about bad planning”.

He said when government talks about the much-hyped dredging of Jehlum river, they should have then started it from the lower reaches like Baramulla.

“But what they did instead. They deliberately started the dredging from the Lal-Chowk so as it is visible to the eyes of public. They have no idea that by going for dredging in the higher reaches, they are actually exposing people to higher risks,” Drabu said.

“When the river is dredged first in low reaches, it improves the carrying capacity there. By undertaking dredging in the upper reaches we are making Srinagar more vulnerable to the floods”.

On the state’s ability to undertake large projects he cited the case of Reconstruction Agency (ERA) who took eight years to spend Rs 1600 crores. Correspondingly, how long will it take us to spend thousands of crores if we were to start the Dogripora channel?

Drabu, who has a keen eye on dredging of the Jehlum and played a important role during the construction of Kishenganga hyrdo-electric project, said that instead of helping, the government was actually aggravating to the problem.

“The government is actually contributing to the grave problem of the flooding,” he said.

“Recently, they provided wetland to the Trans-world University, who will soon start. Filling the wetlands and thus exacerbate the flood problem”.

Drabu said the government was similarly repeating the same mistake as it plans to construct the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) again in the wetland.

“It is obvious, they will fill the wetlands,” he said.

“These low lying areas were acting as water basins, so where will the water go”?

He even went to the extent of blaming the vested interests for creating an ecological disaster in Kashmir thus making Kashmiri’s vulnerable to the flood disaster.

“There are lobbies who work hard to fill the wetlands. This strong interest group has purchased wetlands on throw away prices and intends to sell the same land to the government on higher rates for constructing institutes like IIMS,” Drabu claimed.

When asked about the way forward to get rid-off from the floods, he said “basically government needs to create storage, so as to attenuate the flood peaks. That was the only solution to counter our flood problem”.

“The dredging is no solution. If they think so, then they have to create two parallel Jhelum to the existing river Jhelum,” Drabu said.

“Nothing has been done on the World Bank aided Jehlum Rehab Project. From what I hear nothing has moved on the ground”.


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