Srinagar, July 5: Kashmir has been receiving above average rainfall in June, making the valley fear a possible flood.
A flood alert was sounded last week when the water level in the Jhelum rose above the danger mark.
This triggered panic among the masses, who feared a repeat of 2014.
Although the threat has passed for now, the respite might be short lived as the slight to moderate downpour causes a flood-like situation in parts of Kashmir.
At the same time, the government has not taken any preventive measures to avoid such situations, as Valley had been at the verge of floods several times in the last three years.
Official figures of Meteorological Department show that the month of June has frequently seen a spurt in seasonal precipitation.
The figures reveal that Srinagar, the summer capital, has received 73.9 millimeters (MM) of rain in June against the average of 43.5mm.
Districts and tourist destinations, Kupwara, Kokernag, Qazigund, Gulmarg and Pahalgam have received 67.6mm, 200.5, 144mm, 141mm and 135.6 mm against the average of 57 mm, 78 mm, 70 mm, 101 mm and 90 mm, respectively.
Deputy Director Meteorological Department, Mukhtar Ahmad, said Kashmir has been receiving above average rainfall in the month of June.
“South Kashmir comprising of Shopian, Kulgam, Kokernag, Qazigund, Pahalgam and Anantnag can face the highest risk of floods in the valley every-time the areas receive above average rainfall,” he said.
The Deputy Director said the occurrence of floods is most likely if these areas record more than 75 mm of rainfall.
“The continuous 48-72 hours of rainfall can lead south Kashmir to another flood-like situation,” he said.
Experts attribute the massive rainfall to merging of western disturbances and monsoon at the same time.
“There was already a strong presence of western disturbances and monsoon also struck the valley in mid-June adding to the moisture levels,” said Mukhtar
The Deputy Director said the inadequate carrying capacity within the banks of rivers is major factor contributing to floods.
“The carrying capacity of Jehlum and flood channels has been reduced over the years that it can’t tolerate even rains of 48 to 72 hours,” Mukhtar said.
He added, “The need of the hour is the scientific and extensive dredging throughout the length and breadth of Jehlum and its tributaries along with concrete bunds.”
An official of Irrigation and Flood Control Department said that Wular Lake, which is the largest flood absorption basin has lost the water carrying capacity due to host of factors. “Several surveys have found that gross human interference, deforestation, encroachments, chocking of water ways and reduction in capacity of wet lands due to heavy siltation posing an imminent threat of floods even by average downpour,” the official added.
Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts
Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.
Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri
Traders fear losses in crores
Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz
Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.