North India’s wettest March in 100 years is playing crucial to Srinagar that has a looming flood threat. Officials say they are doing whatever could be done but have kept their fingers crossed.
“The next 24 hours are crucial”, a senior officer said. “Given the pace with which the water is flowing down, the levels will cross flood mark early Monday and most possibly the danger mark later in the afternoon.” This calculation, he said, is based on the pace of surge that the Jhelum recorded during the whole day on Subday.
Water flow in south and central Kashmir is barely 1.5 ft below the flood mark which would get breached in next six hours.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the people living in low lying areas and the belts that severely suffered last year should stay careful and move out of the danger’s path. “God willing, if nothing happens, they can return as early as possible”, he said.
Another senior official said the administration will ensure that the city stays safe. It may intervene in Jhelum at some level after the surge goes beyond the flood level.
A middle rung field officer said they have used nearly 5000 sand bags on weaker embankment spots and are in the process of using many more as and when required. He said the temporary restoration of the September breaches still kacks compaction that usually takes a slightly longer time.
Authorities have already alerted SDRF and NDRF and they will be deployed in anticipation in vulnerable areas Monday morning. Besides, the officials have started hiring shikara boats and during the night nearly 20 trucks carrying the boats would leave for South Kashmir. In Srinagar, one boat has been kept at the disposal of each police station and the numbers will be augmented as and when required.
Interestingly, the boat owners had refused offering boats to government saying they are still unpaid for the services rendered during September. Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu is reported to have settled the issue by announcing to release their dues early Monday morning.
Meanwhile authorities are facing a daunting task of managing water logging. Though most of the 70 fixed pumps, 50 mobile pumps and scores of fire tendrers are in operation, it is still a massive job. The problem is that the rains are getting more water to low lying areas than the capavity of these pumps. Though these pumps work efficiently when power is on, their capacity goes down when operated on alternative currents. Besides, Srinagar city lacks adequate number of pumps given the areas suffering from water logging.
Authorities repaired some of the pumps after last year floods but it is not known if any additions were made. All the giant water pumps that ONGC had driven to Sri agar post floods were taken back.
Met Office predictions suggest raining for three more days which adds to the crisis around. South Kashmir is experiencing massive rains and all the streams and rivulets are roaring at ferocious levels.