Snail’s pace dredging of Jhelum perturbing: Altaf Bukhari

KL News Network

Srinagar

Jehlum passing through Srinagar’s Zero bridge.
Pic: Bilal Bahadur

Expressing concern over slow pace of mechanical dredging of river Jhelum, former minister public works and MLA Amirakadal Syed Altaf Bukhari has called for corrective measures to be taken to get the project executed expeditiously in a time bound manner.

In a statement issued here, he former minister, Friday stressed on removal of bottlenecks which have so far hampered the overall progress in achievement of the desired results.  “The dredging project was chalked out to help increase the carrying capacity of river Jhelum and its flood spill channels. But the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities has so far yielded minimal desired results in that direction,” Bukhari rued and demanded that the project be completed within a set deadline.

The former minister said that the government should keenly manage and supervise this important and critical project keeping into consideration the level of devastation caused by the September 2014 floods in Kashmir especially in Srinagar city. “September 2014 floods caused huge silt deposition all along the river path from Sangam to Srinagar. In such a condition, the experts have already warned of an immense threat to most of the Municipal areas in Srinagar city. However, the cumulative dredging work done in river Jhelum so far indicates that the authorities are hardly moved by the havoc created by September 2014 floods,” the MLA Amirakadal remarked.

Bukhari stressed on the need for speedy dredging of river Jhelum from Srinagar to Wullar Lake besides de-siltation of the flood channels from Srinagar to Panzinara village in north Kashmir as was targeted in the aforementioned dredging plan.

He said the time limit for the completion of the dredging project should be the top priority of the authorities for increasing the carrying capacity of river Jhelum and its flood spill channel. “The reports about the capacity of presently operating dredgers in River Jhelum are disturbing so the executing agency needs to go for segment dredging with a combination of appropriate marine equipment to be installed at the vulnerable locations,” Bukhari observed. He said that the outflow channels in the line of Wullar intake also need to be dredged for stratified flow to the lake. “There is also a dire need for creation of temporary retention basins after every specific length of the river that will increase the volumetric capacity of the river. Embankments on the left and the right of the river bed need to be strengthened in order to prevent the horrific breaches that were witnessed in September 2014,” Bukhari advised. He said that the floods spill channels controlling Srinagar city need to be excavated/dredged both in vertical and horizontal planes on both sides, which could accommodate an additional overflow. While emphasizing on conservation and preservation of wetlands and the natural flow routes, Bukhari said the same should be linked with the comprehensive flood mitigation plan of the river Jhelum.

“A deeper lake with greater capacity and speedy flow of flood waters into it would ensure lesser flood threats in the Valley. The capacity to hold water in the Wullar Lake has drastically reduced, which needs intensive dredging. Besides wetlands and the natural flow routes from the Dal to Aanchar and Mansbal need to be focussed on priority.”  The former minister stressed on fixing of timeframe for dredging project that is controlled and monitored by an expert team appointed by the government.

The former minister said that the proposal mooted out for creation of an additional flood spill channel from Dogripora to Wullar lake which would have created an additional carrying capacity of around 55000 cusecs of water needs to be accorded a favourable consideration or elsewhere the authorities must go for construction of additional storage tanks all along the river path from South to North Kashmir. Bukhari said the authorities’ concerned need to wake up to the imminent dangers of floods in Kashmir and must take all requisite measures before it is too late.

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