Back to Basin

Shams Irfan

One of the most haunting images from September 7, 2014 floods was of new mothers carrying their just born babies on narrow wooden planks while trying to escape nature’s wrath. And those who managed to get out safe could not reach their homes, and instead spent at least a week under the open sky at a piece of land in hostile Zabarwan hills. There were at least 11 deaths at G B Panth hospital alone.

After the flood waters receded and the quantum of loss, both in terms of human lives and property, became visible, people started to question the location of important infrastructures like hospitals. Everybody, including the think-tanks inside the government, agreed that any future investment in building infrastructures that falls under essential services category will be done with utmost care. ‘There will be no going back to basins and wetlands,’ was the catchphrase.

But it seems both, the government and people in Kashmir, are suffering from acute dementia.

Just weeks before the first anniversary of September 7, 2014 floods, coalition government led by Mufti Sayeed gave nod to the construction of a 250 bed Paediatric hospital in Bemina.

Interestingly Bemina is the same place that was submerged under 20 feet of water during recent floods.

If you have recently visited Bemina – though it has been almost a year since floods – you will find palpable traces of destruction all around. There are still countless houses that haunt you like faceless ghosts.

Thought it is now impossible to turn back the wheels of time and set things right in Bemina and elsewhere. What we can still do is to learn from our mistakes. There is no point in going back to basins and areas that once were water bodies. Unless we are ready to see desperate mothers, with IV lines still attached to their bodies, carrying their newborn babies on makeshift boats whenever Jhelum gets angry.

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