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Water crisis hits Kashmir, authorities in slumber

July 8, 2020
water scaled
Residents of Jamalatta in Srinagar carried out a protest against the scarcity of drinking water in their area on July 4. (Photo: KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar:  Hundreds of households are struggling for potable water as taps are running dry in several areas across Kashmir.

Many areas in the old city and civil lines are facing an acute shortage of drinking water for the last few weeks. This is even though Kashmir received adequate rain and snowfall this winter to replenish its water reserve.

The areas facing water scarcity include Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal, Karan Nagar, Batamaloo, Nawab Bazar, Fateh Kadal, Habba Kadal Rajouri Kadal, Bemina, Sanat Nagar, Chanapora, Natipora, Mehjoor Nagar, Alluchi bagh, Khanyar, Nishat, Shalimar, Elahi Bagh, Gulab Bagh, Hazratbal, Zukra, Saderbal, Batpora, Soura, Anchar, Nowshera, Lal Bazar, Alastang, and Shuhama.

“Since May, we are facing water shortage. However, for the last few weeks, the situation has gone bad to worse. Most of the time taps are running dry and water supply is restricted to a few hours during the night,” said Majeed Ahmad, a resident of Safa Kadal.

Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Ellahi Bagh said since January water supply has been restricted to a few hours due to the Malshai Bagh Canal breach. “Crisis has deepened after temperature started souring. We are struggling for a drop of water,” he said.

Water shortage has even triggered protests in different parts of the valley. People have taken to streets, blocked roads, and raised slogans to attract the attention of the authorities towards their plight.

Residents of the Jammalatta area of the old city protested against water scarcity. They also blocked the traffic movement. Likewise, residents of Bijbehara in Anantnag also protested against water shortage. They blocked the road for many hours and demanded immediate restoration of the water supply.

Similar complaints are pouring in from various parts of south and north Kashmir where people said they are forced to consume contaminated water from streams.

In December last year, Malshai Bagh Canal — which caters to over two lakh population in Srinagar and Ganderbal — developed a major breach.

In April, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole directed the concerned authorities to expedite work to fix the breach in the shortest possible time. Four months on, there is no progress.

An official of the Jal Shakti Department said most of the people are misusing drinking water for irrigating kitchen gardens, construction purposes, and other purposes.

“We visited around 100 houses and found drinking water being misused for watering plants, constructions, irrigating crops, and kitchen gardens. People need to have tube wells for such purposes. They cannot use drinking water for irrigation and other purposes,” he said.

Chief Engineer, Jal Shakti Department, Iftikhar Wani did not respond to the repeated calls and messages from The Kashmir Monitor.

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