In the wake of the unprecedented floods which caused havoc last year in Jammu and Kashmir, the state is all set to get its first, modern Flood Forecasting System with the Central Water Commission (CWC) planning to set up such facilities at about 25 sites in Kashmir Valley.
“The modern Flood Forecasting System would be set up in the state as part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (before 2017),” top Water Resources Ministry sources told PTI while adding that they are looking to establish such stations at 25 sites in the Valley. Absence of modern flood forecasting systems proved to be a drawback for Jammu and Kashmir government when the state was hit by floods in September of last year, which claimed 283 lives and caused widespread damage to infrastructure.
Flood Forecasting System would help in assessing floods as river water levels would be measured on an hourly basis, unlike at Hydrological Observation Stations where the levels are calculated during different intervals, ranging from once to three times everyday, the sources added.
A parliamentary panel had also recommended setting up of flood forecasting networks in Jammu and Kashmir. In its report presented in Parliament a month back, the Standing Committee on Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said that like in the rest of the country, flood forecasting networks should also be set up in J-K.
The report further noted that CWC was operating 11 hydrological observation sites in Chenab and five sites in Jhelum to collect data for water resources planning purposes, but it was not maintaining flood forecasting sites in J-K. Meanwhile, CWC has suggested various measures in a study initiated by it after the J-K government last year wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office requesting it to go into the reasons behind the massive floods and also suggest means for preventing any recurrence of the phenomenon.
Stating that several measures have been suggested, official sources underlined that a bypass channel was “inevitable” for diverting the Jhelum river around Srinagar to prevent such a catastrophe in the future. However, the officials did not confirm whether diversion of Jhelum river figured in the series of measures to check floods.
The floods caused huge damage to public and private infrastructure with the J-K government pegging the losses in excess of Rs 44,000 crore. The deluge, which struck large parts of the state in the first week of September, was caused by unprecedented rainfall which caused several rivers and rivulets to over-flow their banks.
According to official figures, 283 people died in the floods, which were declared the worst-ever since 1902. Kashmir Valley was the worst hit as more than 60 per cent of Srinagar city, the summer capital of the state, remained inundated for more than two weeks. Nearly 3.50 lakh structures – mostly residential houses – were fully or partially damaged in the floods.