The current discharge of the river Jhelum has exposed the de-silting operation under taken by the J&K’s Flood Control and Irrigation Department in which the government had deployed two latest dredgers to lift silt from the river so that in case of any exigency, the river could absorb more water.
The need of dredging felt after 2014 floods when river Jhelum that passes through the centre of the city couldn’t withhold the water due to heavy discharge and its bunds gave way and flood water entered into the city and marooned half of the city c
ausing huge loss to the property especially to the businessmen who owned big shops and commercial establishment in the business nerve centre.
After the flood water receded and government began looking for loopholes that led to the flooding in the city, the top bureaucrats and experts blamed absence of dredging one of the major factors for flooding into the city. As per the experts, the river Jhelum at its peak could hold more than 30000 caucuses of water and due to accumulation of silt for many years the carrying capacity had reduced to mere 10000 to 15000 caciques.
Once the water receded and Centre also allocated funds to J&K government issued tenders for dredging of river Jhelum in three phases. The tender was allotted to a Kolkata based firm and they were given a target to complete the dredging process at the stipulated time.
The government wanted to get the work done on fast track basis as they had apprehension that 2014 like rains could again submerge major portion of the city. Though due to official lacunas, the dredging couldn’t begin at its stipulated time however finally the company that was allotted the tender installed its equipment in the river Jhelum and started de-silting process. However, after two years though dredging is going at the snail’s pace and the target has no where been achieved, the reduction in the discharge of water in river Jhelum has exposed not only the government but also the company that has taken this tender.
At several places within the city where dredging and de-silting operation has already been completed, the lower discharge has exposed all the claims of the government and the company. The silt is still there and there seems no increase in the depth of river Jhelum and god forbid if it rains for several days, the floods could again submerge the city.
There have been questions why after spending crores of rupees for dredging the silt is still in the river, though officials claim that dredging of river is a regular process, however, experts are of the opinion that there has been no proper monitoring system done by the top officials to look whether dredging is achieving its results, instead monitoring process has been left on the mercy of few lower level employees who are vulnerable to corruption.
There are already reports that the Kolkata based dredging firm has already greased the palms of top officials and ministers to bag this project. There are also reports that company didn’t even touched some spots from Sonwar to Rajbagh where there were some problems and officers who were meant for monitoring didn’t take any action against the company. Despite one year of dredging the mounds of silt and sand has exposed the government and top claims of the officials, despite for photo ops the ministers and top bureaucrats have been visiting the dredging sites, however, nobody is bothered to take the company and engineers monitoring this work to task.
Due to the lack of accountability, this dredging is now proving gold mine for the officials and sand mafia who are making good money in this process. However, it seems the basic aim for this dredging is yet to achieve its results. Still government has time to take this dredging seriously by reviewing the entire process otherwise in next few years another flood like situation can’t be ruled out. The Valley has already suffered huge economic losses and in no way people in Kashmir could afford another flood like situation and if that will happen entire blame lies with the state government and the ministers and politicians who claim to be representatives of people.