History repeats itself and even Kashmir floods do repeat every 50 years, according to a report published in Greater kashmir, citing a 2010 report that forewarned imminent floods any time in the state. Four years after, Srinagar is submerged, 400 killed and 2,000 villages are marooned in flood water.
The report by the Jammu and Kashmir Flood Control Ministry warned of a catastrophe to hit Srinagar city. “Srinagar is likely to submerge in water, due to a major flood in next five years.”
Any major flood catastrophe would discharge water of around 150,000 cusses if floods hit Srinagar city, submerging the historic city, the report warned, naming most parts of the valley from Khannabal (Islamabad) upto Khadinyar (Varmul) to be hit by the flood. “The Srinagar-Jammu highway may be washed away, leaving the Valley cut-off from the rest of the country”, the assessment said. “The Indira Gandhi Road leading to Airport will also be submerged, cutting the aerial access to the Valley as well”.
The report in Greater Kashmir, quoting sources, said the flood control department had proposed a Rs.2,200 crore project to build the basic infrastructure and then Prime Minister had reportedly assured Rs.500 crore with an initial instalment of Rs.109 crore.
One of the first on record major floods hit Srinagar in 1902 and the second one hit in 1960 known as Flood of the 60’s (San Shathukh Flood) or the year 1960 Bikrami. Most of the city was submerged in the water for over two years following the flood spreading diseases.
“We have some pictures available in our department showing one floor of famous British hotel of Srinagar submerged in water which clearly depicts the situation at that time”, Taj Moinuddin, then flood control minister told Greater Kashmir.
During the British Raj, a team of British engineers started dredging the river Jhelum from Wullar, Asia’s largest freshwater lake, to Khadanyar with the help of dredgers run on steam engines. A 42-km long flood channel was constructed from Padshahi Bagh in Srinagar to Wullar to channelise the floodwater.
In 1948a dredger was imported and handed over to the state in 1950 that saved the city when it faced floods in 1959 as no major loss of lives was reported though some areas of the city, including Rajbah, were submerged as the city was ready for the calamity and was regularly desilting the flood channels and outflow channels.
The water has no place to go in Srinagar city, as Jhelum is made up of various small and large tributaries, is merely a bowl having no outgo of water, triggering floods every 50 years, said the minister. In 1976 hydrologist-headed Uppal committee recommended major desilting operations but the successive governments neglected the report and allowed colonies to come up in wetlands and further suffocating the city in the event of a major flood.
The result is evident with waterlogged Jhelum throwing up water on to the streets and villages, making Kashmir valley another tragedy of urban development.
ALSO SEE: Timeline of Kashmir floods