SRINAGAR: Haphazard developmental activities, including economic and infrastructure projects without sufficient consideration for environmental safety and sustainability weaken the existing flood control infrastructure which, in turn, makes the rivers more vulnerable to flash floods, reveals a report by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM).
In its report titled, “Kashmir Floods 2014-Recovery to Resilience, NIDM emphasized that the valley was prone to natural calamities, particularly floods.
“Most of these developmental activities are usually undertaken with utter disregard to environmental, geological, geomorphological, and ecological conditions of the region. The ongoing construction boom is being fed by indiscriminate mining of sand, gravel, and boulders from riverbeds, which intends to weaken the existing flood control infrastructure which, in turn, makes the rivers more vulnerable to flash floods,” it said.
The report added, “There is a need for relevant laws against illegal construction especially in the low-lying areas, and a need for revising the construction policies.”
The report also said that there was a need for the identification of vulnerable areas by mapping hotspots. “It should be done keeping in mind the population and infrastructure factor, debris management after the floods, rescue operations, prioritization of critical areas and marginalized populations for providing them with immediate recovery and rehabilitation,” it said.
NIDM in the report has pitched for building a robust early warning system to prevent floods in Kashmir. It said there was a need for the installation of flood forecasting and early warning systems at appropriate locations along with regular monitoring.
“The task is being taken up by several departments such as IMD and the Irrigation and Flood Control Department; their efforts have improved the early warning system in the region. However, it is still a long way process and the flood early warning system needs more improvement if looked at from the perspective of a deluge like 2014,” the report said.
NIDP emphasized the need for public awareness and soliciting public involvement in flood risk reduction.
“Moreover, community-based disaster risk reduction plans must be prepared on a priority basis, as the community is regarded as one of the first responders during a disaster. Such initiatives could lead to long-term vigorous changes and even loss of lives and property can be minimized,” it said.
NIDM has also called for improvement in the utilization of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) funds to augment available resources and ensure their utilization for intended disaster preparedness and relief.
“As per the erstwhile State/UT DM Policy, the existing Centre for Disaster Management at Jammu and Kashmir Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (J&K IMPARD) was to be upgraded to State Institute of Disaster Management (SIDM), which has not been done till date. SIDM aims at fulfilling the need of capacity-building and function as a technical, training, planning, and analysis, wing of the State Disaster Management Authority,” it said—(KNO)