By Komal Bhardwaj
Edited by, Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
The devastation in Kashmir is being compared to the storm that ravaged calm in the ‘Land of Gods’, Uttarakhand a year ago. The Jhelum, which flows through Srinagar wreaked havoc on the paradise land. The summer capital, Srinagar fell inundated below the fury of the flood water, and it was indeed a sight that was inconceivable and beyond the bounds of possibilities.
The collective measure of loss incurred by tourism, transport, trade, infrastructure and horticulture industry amounted to a tentative of Rs. 1,00,000 crore. The congestion on the Jammu-Srinagar highway was cleared. Accurate figures of causalities couldn’t be concluded because there were people who weren’t identified. The number of people rescued by armed forces and the National Disaster Response Force was estimated around 3 lakh. The death toll rose to 277 with several reported missing. 30,000 army troops were deployed to the rescue activity. The quality of cooperation shown by the armed forces and NDRF was commendable.
Excessive and unplanned urbanization plan had caused the suffocation and blocking of the water drainage system that didn’t let Dal Lake adjust to the excessive water flow.. Local residential colonies, shopping complexes, municipal facilities, government bases and other infrastructure had claimed the Jhelum River’s flood basin that flows through the city. Residential areas had been constructed on the Walter Lawrence’s flood basin and it had been occupied by the eminent rich figures of Jawahar nagar, Gogjibagh, Wazir bagh, Chanapora, Natipora, Bemina, Kursoo and a few more.
“Nature has made sure to lash back whenever the mortal humans have tried to encapsulate it’s enormity with greedy motifs”.
“Venice of Asia”, this epithet was assigned to Kashmir because of the “Serpentine canal”, Nallah Mar. Nallah Mar was responsible for all the activities pertaining to trade and transport, its role was reversed, and instead it was used to drain all the excessive water into the Jhelum river that angry and swollen Dal Lake didn’t want to compartmentalize during the heavy flood. The initial warnings about the possible fore coming flood could have registered seriously and the scale of destruction could have been dealt with effective resource management and suitable planning measures. Rain couldn’t have been controlled or prevented, but the extent of devastation could have been supervised.
Issues of water management that arose with the illicit invasion of wetlands and water bodies in the Valley were known to The Government of J&K. And certain plans were also concluded in 2010 to cleanse the destroyed Wular Lake to drain the flood water, but then those plans were never executed. There was no real help coming from the two countries, India and Pakistan, the two sides were just making a banal effort by formally signaling for help. Indian state authorities could have helped J&K with its past experience, when it built strong strategies after the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit in 2004. Post-flood, Indian Government did made a help offer. Whereas, initial responses coming from Pakistan were abrupt and reflected the dissentient behavioral influence that has been ruling the relationship between the two countries, later on there came some placatory statements from Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan. The persisting tense ties between India and Pakistan could have been used to redeem the crestfallen state of the affected people. The two could have emerged as the crusaders ignoring the border crisis for the rescue and rehabilitation of the people.
Indian state authorities should have channelized their efforts in helping the ruined state recover, because a halt in J&K’s smooth trade functioning has affected Indian wholesale market; it has suffered massive monetary loss of at least Rs 1,100 crore, as J&K was one of the significant client to India’s trading scenario that sets in northern India. The recent drop observed is predicted to affect the traders dealing in cloth, readymade garments, yarn industry and dry fruits which were a major source of revenue for the populace of J&K. The supply of apples has also declined by titanic proportion which has affected the “sabzi mandi’s” of India. The adherence to the trade-on-credit basis will make recovering the remaining amount of the supplied goods troublesome for Indian traders. There can be no demands of the compensation in such a case, many traders will face bankruptcy.
A vigorous and determined attempt is required to revive the land known beautiful. The stream of efforts principally required need to be categorized into long term and short term necessities on priority basis. The efforts required to be implemented in the short duration of time include the establishment of effective dewatering mechanism in order to recede the water level and recover the submerged assets. The dewatering of the land will be able to portray clearly the confirmed amount of destruction caused. People who were extricated out of the marooned houses will be able to readdress back to their homes to collect their drowning hopes and to evaluate the damage that has left them and their land shattered.
The tendency of framing political propaganda during such situations shall stay away. Any statement to justify the misleading actions on the part of the government or other political affiliations trying to benefit themselves of the dwelling crisis will not be justified. The Himalayan state victims are complaining about how they are not being able to procure even paid ration from the state run depots and hence they are starving. This highlights the discrepancy in the government’s statement that guaranteed ration facilities for the victims. Susceptible widespread of disease once the water level recedes is being contemplated. Highly organized relief camps and covered accommodation should be arranged because a large number of people are rendered homeless; their houses have got buried deep down the water of destruction. The ATM machines shall be repaired. The roads shall be repaired, for it will get convenient for people to reach a specific location. Nallah Mar should be reconstituted as it is the main trade hub for the citizens and it will give a boost to the victims to focus on earning their livelihood once again.
The longstanding encouragement of the ravaged state requires the construction of dams. The architectural planning should include setting aside of wetlands and water canals, reckless commercial construction should not be permitted. The revised infrastructural schemes should have flood preparedness as their foremost aim. The even stronger strategic planning mode should be emphasized as floods are growing in intensity every year due to the overheating of the atmosphere. Disaster Management Organisation should be set up to deal with such climatic crisis. Refurbishing of the flood channels and realignment of the flood basins of Dogripora area, Lasjan area, Bemina, Gadhanjipora, Hokharsar, Shalabagh, Khoshalsar, Haigam and all the other flood basins those lost their purpose beneath the cracks of urbanization. There is an urgent requirement of installing separate flood colonies in the flood prone areas each at the interval of specific distance. Ploughing of water bodies wherever possible is necessary to vacate rain water. The recent disaster brings an awakening alarm for the whole world to have a stronger climatic modus Vivendi to resist the brawl of the displeased Mother Nature in the long haul.
The impromptu demeanor towards the safety and welfare of the state and it’s people arises the question of how unprepared are we for the disasters. The “Kashmir Tragedy” requires self observation and teaches ample lessons. We can never challenge the cosmos, and if the mortal humans try to interfere, there are even stronger lethal strokes coming for us. We can never fully eradicate the uncertainties, but then we can always reduce our unintentional contribution to the stimulation of the calamities and stay braced up for the aftermath.