In early September 2014, Kashmir Valley witnessed once-in-a-century flooding. However it is not prudent to assume that floods occur once every hundred years. The eighth anniversary of the worst-flooding reminds of the devastation all around the Valley, more so in the summer capital of J&K and south Kashmir. Flood water levels rose to heights hardly imagined, submerging even the 2nd floors of several houses. It cut off road connectivity and forced many people to risk venturing through the rising and unbelievably cold water. Numerous people were subjected to untold miseries even though death count remained low due to grit and determination shown by youth, most of them virtually risked their lives and fortunately came triumph in their endeavor. A huge number of residential and commercial buildings lay damaged alongside thousands of vehicles. The disaster was attributed to Jhelum’s choking drainage system, unable to withstand the runoff water volume. Jhelum, the lifeline of Kashmir, discharge exceeded capacity, flooding not only the low-lying areas but the ones which had never witnessed deluge. Most components of the flood were man-made. Greed and corruption undoubtedly accounted for the devastation. Some unscrupulous people break the rules in collusion with officials to encroach areas within the course of the lake, not even sparing embankments. These encroachments hinder runoff water, causing floods. Apparently indifferent to all this, these unscrupulous people continue to encroach and obstruct the flow of water. They give no thought to what are the consequences and impact, which was ingloriously unveiled in 2014 to not only heap miseries on themselves but also on others. Despite such devastation, successive governments and people failed to learn crucial lessons. They fail to learn from experiences when the Valley remained flooded. Since then, Kashmir had close shaves every time it rained heavily. Encroachments continued unabated. Most of all, there is need to understand that playing with nature has consequences which could be devastating or even deadlier than one could even imagine.
While the climate crisis is causing substantial disruptions in rainfall patterns, scientists have been warning that floods will only become more frequent and powerful. To minimise loss, it is only proper planning that can insure against the inevitable extremities of nature including floods.
The aftermath of the catastrophic flood of 2014 have left scars but at the same time authorities concerned and people need to wake up and should exhibit no remiss.