JK hires Spanish company to study Jhelum for cause of floods
Srinagar, July 23: A Spanish Company has initiated a study on the river Jhelum for preventing floods in Kashmir. A flood alert was sounded last month, when water level in the Jhelum rose above the danger mark. It triggered panic, with people fearing a repeat of 2014 floods. Now, the state government has asked the company, Eptisa, to immediately start the study, an official of the Jhelum and Tawi Recovery Project said. “An expert team of the company has started the morphology study on the Jhelum,” he said. “Once the recommendations are submitted, it will then frame a detailed project report for the flood mitigation project. Afterwards, the government may approve the project.” The company has to complete the task in two years. The official said the aim of the study was to find out ways for preventing floods in the future. A study, titled ‘A satellite-based rapid assessment on floods in Jammu & Kashmir–September 2014’, conducted jointly by the Department of Environment & Remote Sensing (DERS) and ISRO has warned that intensity of rainfall and frequency of rainy days in the Himalayan region may increase in 2030s, leading to another flood in Kashmir if immediate steps are not taken to restore the drainage system of Jhelum. Post 2014, dramatic rise in the Jhelum’s water level with even a slight rainfall has become a common phenomenon. The government, at the same time, has not been doing enough to prevent a possible major flood. Nothing has been done all these years, except dredging at a few spots and refilling of patches of Jehlum’s embankments washed away by 2014 floods,” an official of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department said, wishing not to be quoted by name. Dredging in the Jhelum was to be carried out in two phases to increase its carrying capacity. The Rs 280-crore project for phase I was subsequently awarded to a Kolkata-based company to clear the excessive siltation that had accumulated and drastically reduced the carrying-capacity of the river Jhelum. After missing several deadlines, the deadline for phase I was extended to March 31, 2018. However, the company failed to meet the final deadline as well. Consequently, over a period of four months, the project work has seen no progress. “In this period, we achieved a target of 6.68 lakh cubic meter against the target of 7 lakh cubic meter in Srinagar,” the official said. Similarly, the government has also announced that construction of alternate channel of Jhelum, the 80-km Dogripora flood channel from Awantipora to Wular Lake. However, the official said that project could not materialise and cost over Rs 20,000 crore.