Last week, the Divisional Kashmir chaired a meeting regarding preparedness as regards floods. Among others he stressed on advanced flood warning in order to mitigate hazards. Besides, he also directed officers of IMD for creation and uploading of database on official website – Integrated Operational Forecast System regarding areas prone to flood, contact details of officers of tehsil level, volunteers, manpower of concerned agencies and database of machinery and logistics, rescue centres and control rooms for the coordination and prompt action to the tackle and control flood and its impact. The situation in Kashmir on the weather front is unsteady. Presently Jammu and Kashmir is under a rain deficit. The administration may also have to call for a fool-proof action plan in case a drought-like situation arises amid deficit rainfall in the J&K. Climate changes are such that it may rain in abundance to bring about a spate in water bodies including Jhelum.
In drafting the management plans, Jammu and Kashmir must be aware of the scientific consensus that future rain spells may be short, often unpredictable and very heavy, influenced by a changing climate. There is a need to invest in reliable infrastructure to mitigate the impact of flooding and avert disasters like one in 2014 when almost half of the Srinagar and many villages in south Kashmir were devastated.
The 2014 devastating floods were a natural phenomenon as well as human tragedy as administration apparently overlooked geological features and drainage patterns prior to it as well as post it by allowing illegal construction on river banks and over natural water channels.
It is worthwhile to point out that the response of the successive governments to the imperative remained tardy and even indifferent in the past. The official machinery was hesitant to act against the encroachment of water bodies’ catchments, river courses and floodplains.
Unscrupulous people were allowed to build structures in close proximity to the rivers and lakes. Granting permissions or closing eyes to such constructions is an abdication of responsibility and a violation of Disaster Management Authority Guidelines to prevent flooding. The administration must draw up various plans clearly and in an era of the climate crisis, the same is a prerequisite, not a choice. The administration must be prepared for all eventualities. Present weather conditions suggest that drought may be more a possibility than floods. The situation looks wobbly but nevertheless a reality amid climate change and as such the administration must draw up plans for all eventualities in advance.