At a time when many are questioning government for not implementing flood mitigation plan properly, Irrigation and Flood Control department claims they have completed the first phase of the plan and were working on second one.
The experts believe that the dredging of Jhelum has not been done on the scientific manner and the carrying capacity has been reduced over time due to massive siltation.
EPG, Convener, Faiz Bakshi said that the department has not even done the satellite imaging of the river interlinking other water ways. “The claims of Irrigation and Flood Department to have completed the 92% dredging is not true. Last year, the company which was handling the dredging project was unable to complete it."
Bakshi said, even the Governor had constituted a committee to enquire into irregularities of dredging of Jhelum.
Besides that two separate PILs have been filed in the High Court, one by Environmental Policy Group (EPG) and the other by Moulvi Peer-Noor-ul-Haq.
The Petitioners claim the dredging has not been done on scientific manner and some irregularities have been committed in the dredging of the Jhelum and other water bodies.
The High Court had also directed Commissioner Secretary PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control to present himself in the court on June 4 and bring along the action plan. The court directed the concerned authorities to file details of the locations on a physical map where dredging has been carried out and place the same before it on June 4.
Refuting the claims that flood mitigation plan has not been implemented, Chief Engineer I&FC, Kashmir, Ashok Kumar Sharma said that the State is ready to mitigate the floods. “We have increased the capacity of river Jhelum. At Sangam the capacity has been increased and other fills."
He said that there were three phases of action plan for mitigation of floods out of which one has been done and the second one is under the government.
“After floods, we have restored the cuts etc. The phase 1st was the induction of comprehensive work of river Jhelum. Under this part, we have done dredging, retaining and worked on the embankments," he said. It worth to mention that Central Water Power Commission had prepared a comprehensive plan through the concerned agencies for total mitigation of the future floods. The plan was in phases and as per the information phase I have been completed. The phase II is yet to be sanctioned by the Central Water Power Commission. An Engineer and Hydraulic Expert, Ajaz Rasool said that the overall carrying capacity of the entire river Jhelum has not increased. “Increasing carrying capacity at few points will not help."
He said the restoration of lost carrying capacity of Jhelum is to be on holistic basis for complete hydraulic river regime.
He said the flood mitigation plan had two parts the short term measures and long term measures. "The short term measures comprised dredging at seven spots to remove shoal formation post 2014 floods."
"The Authorities embarked upon cut suction dredging in flatter river reaches upstream and downstream of Srinagar, which was proved counterproductive, as it did not help restore the lost carrying capacity of Jhelum. "
“In fact it eroded loose material of damaged embankment upstream and we saw cracks in binds at Lasjan, Pandrethan, Shivpora and Kursoo. Even the Central water resources in their interim report advised to stop this dredge."
“The shoal removal could have been better addressed using amphibious excavators." "The increase in carrying capacity of Jhelum can only be achieved by dredging at outflow channel at Sopore and Baramulla where the river slopes are steeper as was done in 1905 by British Engineers in Maharaja Rule and even by Irrigation & Flood control Department from 1960 to 1986 and resumed after 26 years in 2012.”
Rasool said, besides, Wular which has lost 30% of its volumetric storage also requires to be dredged to restore which activity has recently been ousourced by WUCMA.
“The restoration of Flood Spill Channel is also yet to be completed to have the designed flow to be carried through it. Thus as on date there has been no increase in flow carrying capacity of Jhelum since 2014."
He said, this is one of the reason, we have a flash flood conditions with just few days. rain.
To counter his claims, Irrigation and Flood Control department, Technical Officer, Ehsan ul haq said that the dredging has been completed upto Sumbal and in Baramulla." But this is not the end, we have to do more. "
He said the carrying capacity of river Jhelum has been increased. “At Sangam and Anantnag, the carrying capacity has been increased from 31,800 cusecs to 41, 000 thousand cusecs . At Padshahibagh, it has increased from 4 thousand to 8 thousand cusecs. In the main river Jhelum, the carrying capacity has increased from 27, 000 to 32 thousand cusecs. "
He said that the first phase of flood mitigation plan has been completed and the second plan is under the Central Water Commission of India. “We have sent a DPR of 5400 crores to the Central Water Commission. It comes under the second phase of the plan. If it will be approved, We will be able to increase the capacity of River Jhelum upto 50, 000," he said.
Haq however said that the third phase is a long term plan. “So far, after 2014 floods, we have completed the first phase, and the second phase is under the government for the approval."
He said, in the first phase of plan, the government had approved Rs 399 crore, out of which Rs 142 crore was utilised for land acquisition for the existing flood channel.
"We have used money for dredging, other works and for building two bridges. We have worked on Hokersar wetland and in wullar lake, dredging and widening will be done. "
Last month, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan directed all Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of the Valley to establish 24×7 flood control room immediately in their respective districts.
The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan has asked the DCs to place officers of Irrigation and Flood Control, Disaster Management, PHE, PDD, Revenue, Health, Food and Police in the control room to provide real time information to the administration and people