SRINAGAR: In the wake of devastating floods ravaging parts of Handwara in Kupwara district, political leaders Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone on Tuesday visited inundated areas, calling for immediate government action and proper compensation for the affected populace.

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National Conference (NC) vice-president, Omar Abdullah, echoed the collective anguish as he traversed the flood-stricken landscape. He emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive relief measures. “It seems that we have not learned any lessons from 2014. The climate is changing,” said Omar. “We have to change ourselves according to the changing climate,” he said.

Pertinently, Omar was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir at the time when floods devastated the erstwhile state.In the deluge of September 2014, Srinagar and adjoining districts were the most affected areas. The heavy rainfall resulted in huge water discharge in the Jhelum river exceeding the carrying capacity of the river and its flood channels. This combined with blocked flood channels and inadequate flood control measures triggered floods with devastating effect. The flood spill channels with the original carrying capacity of 17,000 cusecs of water had been reduced to a carrying capacity of 4,000 cusecs of water due to accumulation of sediment load from various nallahs which merge with the channel at various points.

To address this issue, a scheme for improvement to flood spill channel by way of construction of a central channel of small cross-section was taken up in the year 2008-09 by the Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) Department at an estimated cost of Rs14.93 crore. Subsequently, this was subsumed in the year 2010-11 under the ‘Flood Threat to River Jhelum Scheme’ at an estimated cost of Rs 50.68 crore. However, on ground no pre-emptive measures were taken by the then government that could have avoided the catastrophe.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday besides Omar, People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone also visited the flood affected areas of Kupwara and Handwara. Omar and Lone are contesting from Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency. Voting is to be held here on May 20. Many low-lying areas of Kashmir, including Srinagar, have been inundated by rainwater. However, officials have tried to drain out the water. Roads in many areas of the valley are flooded, causing hardships for drivers as well as for the pedestrian movement. Government in Kashmir closed all schools in the valley on Tuesday as a precautionary measure and the University of Kashmir has postponed all examinations scheduled for that day.(KNO)


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