Jammu and Kashmir has received more than double the rainfall that is considered normal in March, and is likely to receive more in the next three days, as it stares at another round of flooding just seven months after one of the worst floods ever in the state.
According to India Meteorological Department Director General L S Rathore, the country as a whole has received more than double the normal rainfall this month, making it the wettest March since 1915. India received an area weighted average of 50 mm rainfall till March 25, against a normal of 24.4 mm.
In the same period, J&K received 257.2 mm of rainfall, which was 102 per cent more than the normal of 127.3 mm. This is in sharp contrast to the trend of the last one decade — the state saw deficient rainfall for eight years in March.
The last two days have seen more rainfall. In the 24 hours between the morning of Sunday and Monday, Katra received 140 mm of rainfall, Batote 120 mm. Jammu 100 mm, Banihal, Baderwah and Qazigund got 70 mm each, and Srinagar got 50 mm, according to data released by the IMD. What is worrying is that after some relief on Monday and Tuesday, heavy rainfall or snowfall is expected in some places from April 1 to 3.
The water-logging in many urban areas, including Srinagar, has brought back memories of the September flooding last year, but officials say the situtation is not so serious.
“The situation is not serious at all, though it is certainly unusual for this time of the year. This month has been the wettest March since 1915 all over India, and J&K is also facing an unusual spate of rainfall. But it would be wrong to compare it with last year’s flooding. We have been receiving continuous updates from the state government, and the situation as of now is manageable,” said A B Pandya, Central Water Commission Chairman.
Recent IMD data shows that since 2004, J&K has received normal or more rainfall in March only three times. Every other year has seen deficient rainfall, sometimes by as much as 95 per cent.
Another reason being cited for the flooding is the non-completion of repair works that were undertaken after last year’s floods. The embankments on the Jhelum river that were damaged are yet to be repaired and the breaches have not been filled. Water has, therefore, found easy access to the residential areas of Srinagar town.
Meanwhile, the army and National Disaster Response Force have been roped in for rescue and relief operations. As of Monday evening, 20 columns of army with rescue boats and other equipment had been kept on alert. Army engineers are also involved in strengthening identified weak spots on the bunds of Jhelum.
Various flood relief stores and equipment have been arranged and 30 BAUTS (Boat Assault Universal Type) have been kept ready for deployment. A joint control room has been established by the army at Badami Bagh Cantonment.