Intro: According to reports, because the drainage channels of Srinagar have been blocked and the link between the lakes has been cut off due to unplanned urbanisation and encroachment, the lakes have lost their power to absorb water and save the city from floods.
Illegal structures that had mushroomed on Jhelum’s banks and around lakes are responsible for clogging drainage channels. Due to the collapse of Srinagar’s natural drainage channels it is flooded by water from Jhelum River which has been flowing 1.5 metre above the danger mark.
Jammu and Kashmir has not seen such devastating floods in the past six decades. Even people glued to their television sets far away from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) could not believe that the scenes on their TV screens were from what is called “Heaven on the Earth” and not from somewhere in Bihar or Assam. Though the government figures estimate the loss of more than 200 lives and 1500 villages affected by the floods, in reality nearly 390 villages of the Valley have submerged totally. The flood waters have knocked the doors of the households indicating of a possible deluge. In Bihar, the regular floods are caused due to lackluster attitude of the centre and the state governments, but in J & K this deluge is caused because of the corrupt and illegal machinery and greed of the people. Nature has enough to suffice the need of the people but not to fulfill their greed. But in Kashmir the floods have underlined the unholy alliance between the greedy people and the corrupt machinery in the Valley.
|10,000: personnel of Army Engineers and Border Roads Organisations restored road links to over 1,000 villages town in Jammu and Kashmir.|
The visits by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the affected areas in the Valley indicate the concern of the Central Government. But thousands of tax payers of the country have the right to know what has happened to their money sent to the Valley and what steps are taken so far to remove encroachments from the Wular and Dal Lakes? According to one government report, people have encroached upon 5,000 wetlands in Srinagar, Baramulla and Bandipura. And so far no action has been taken on the 500 FIRs filed in this connection in the Kashmir valley. These FIRs were registered by the government officials!
Continued construction activity in the flood basin has stopped the natural water outlet channels. The Srinagar Development Authority has been handling land deals under the nose of PHD and flood basins between Lasjan to Bemina and Naugam to Peerbag today house impressive shopping malls and houses.
Every year the government spends crores on deepening the flood channels and their maintenance. But actual work is not done. The senior Congress leader and Sabik Flood Control Minsiter accused Congress Minister Sham Lal Sharma of looting and corruption. In reality the government functions in the midst of corruption and greedy people who leave no stone unturned to loot the natural resources including land.
The moot question is those who talk of environment and indulge in politics on the issue ban yatras in Kashmir. They link construction of temporary sheds for Amarnath Pilgrims to Article 370. But there is no answer to who looted the Land of Wular Lake? Who were responsible for encroaching upon the Dal Lake which had spread over hundreds of kms earlier? Who limited this famous lake to a few km now? Who snatched the greenery of the hills and who sold the flood basins at throw away prices?
The people of the country spend their money on J&K, have they no right to seek explanation on the expenditure. They need to ask what has happened to those Rs 2,000 crore that were meant for flood control schemes.
It is true that in this hour of crisis the entire country is behind the people of J&K. They will also support the government move to help people and rebuilding the state. But the country does have the right to ask questions. So long as the state hides under the cover of Article 370, such accidents—natural and man-made—will happen and the country will continue to face such calamities.
-Vinod Kumar Mishra (The writer is a senior jouranlist and is
writing can be read at Vinod Mishra Ka blog)