With the devastating floods of September 2014 still fresh on their mind, a spell of incessant rain from Saturday afternoon created panic across the Kashmir valley. Although the administration said the water levels were well below the danger mark, many started packing their belongings and shifted to “safer” locations on Sunday.
The waterlogged streets of Srinagar and other towns of Valley have only added to the fear.
A cautious state government deployed a team of ministers in the Valley and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed too arrived in Srinagar on Sunday to monitor the situation.
In Srinagar’s main business centre Lal Chowk, which was marooned in the floods last year, panic-stricken shopkeepers started taking out their stocks from early Sunday. But officials said there was no immediate flood threat. “Jhelum is currently flowing below the danger mark in south Kashmir as well as in Srinagar,” Chief Engineer, Irrigation & Flood Control department, Javed Jaffar told The Indian Express.
Jaffar said the Jhelum is flowing 14.20 feet against a danger level of 16 feet at Ram Munshibagh in Srinagar. The water levels at Asham in north Kashmir and Sangam in south Kashmir are recorded at 8.53 and 14.80 against the alarm levels of 13 and 18 feet respectively.
However, flash floods in rural Kashmir have damaged many bridges and culverts. The Srinagar-Gulmarg road was closed after a vital bridge near Kunzer was damaged. In north Kashmir, the overflowing Ningli stream changed its course near Wagoora and damaged a few bridges. The stream also marooned hundred of acres of agriculture land.
In south Kashmir’s Pulwama, many families living near the banks of Jhelum were shifted to safer places.
Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Niraj Kumar said he has sounded an alert in the district. “Small rivulets have started filling up and the increasing water level have taken diversions at several places. Those living in nearly 60 villages near the Jehlum have also been shifted to safer places,” he said. “If the rain continue, there would be a flood-like situation,” he said.
J&K Police said that they had evacuated nearly 300 families to safer locations.
As the Met office predicts more rain, the situation is likely to get worse. But Director, Met department, Sonam Lotus says there is no need to panic. “Every year in March, the Valley witnesses rain,” he said.
The government has also set up a special control room at police headquarters to monitor the situation. It has also announced that schools upto middle classes would remain closed for two days.
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