For first time since last year’s floods, water level in river Jhelum this week touched an all-time low of 2.55 ft at Sangam, 4.55 ft at Ram Munshibagh and 2.83 ft in Asham. At Sangam one could virtually cross the river by feet.
Last September, in the run up to the devastating floods, the water level at these places had scaled above 30 feet blasting embankments and letting in gallons of flood water destroy neighbourhoods.
The development is credited to de-siltation at key areas along river Jhelum that has increased its overall carrying capacity. Last year’s deluge deposited tons of silt on the river bed. As a result, whenever it rained, the water level rose alarmingly. The Irrigation and Flood Control department issued flood advisories nearly five times this year warning residents along vulnerable areas to abandon homes and move to safer place.
The collective psyche of Kashmiri people is still haunted by the ghoulish memories of 2014 flooding. No sooner it rains than people are caught by the terror of having to endure the catastrophe akin to last year’s. There are still countless people who are reluctant to refurbish their homes, damaged by the floods, for the fear that it might flood again. Making matters worse, is the panic-enterprise the media has become. Articles and stories are routinely featured in newspapers and magazines warning readers about an impending ‘disaster.’ Last month, a well-known Valley based publication splashed a story across its front page that a 12-day intense rainfall was imminent. The story triggered a situation where people from all over made panicky phone calls to other media houses and control rooms to confirm if the news was authentic. Fortunately, the ‘prediction’ was not to be.
Government must come forward to allay such fears of general public. The pressing need is administration should expedite the dredging process and formally materialize the proposed 80-km long new flood spill channel from South Kashmir to Wular that would alleviate the flood-management in the longer-run.