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Tackle Rivers to Avoid Flood Havoc in J&K
Er. Lakhbir Singh Labana (Akhnoor)7/19/2019 11:59:37 PM
The concept of natural accident is any unexpected happening or event resulting in injury to life and damage and loss to property, not due to negligence of any human being but in a natural calamity. Events like earthquakes, rains, floods, cyclones etc. are all natural accidents or calamities or acts of God. However in present times the word accident has come to mean any happening due to negligence or lack of knowledge of methods etc. on the part of human beings. Same way when our rivers were flowing with furious designs with no controlling authorities, could be considered a natural calamity but since the inception of Flood Control Department under the govt. assigned with huge allocation of public funds to be utilized for flood control measures for the safety of human lives and public property became negligent causing loss of human lives and property is also serious crime which can be classified as govt. committed crime to mankind. The worst kind of floods as witnessed by us today has thrown several challenges before the Flood control authorities which required to be seen seriously.
It was also observed that the flow of the River Chenab and its tributaries was on peak of 675,000 cusec at Trimmu and 947,000 cusec at Khanki and Head Marala barrage quite higher than the design capacity of the barrage. Which signal us for future dangers of floods.
We may learn and aspire from Dutch people .The Dutch have a well known saying that "God created the earth, but the Dutch made Holland (now called Netherland)". The term "Netherlands" means "low country," and it is a very low-lying country. About 25% of the land area, containing more than half of the population is man made , is actually below Mean Sea Level, and would flood if the sea were not held back by a system of dikes. 50% of the area is less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above MSL and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, when a major breach of the dikes occurred in 1953, killing 1800 people and widespread property . To avoid a repeat of the disaster the Dutch began construction of the "Delta Project" to protect the country from future losses and today total length of dikes is more than approx. 3000 Kms facing North Sea .which protect Netherlands from flooding from sea, rivers and lakes.
We have only three rivers flowing in our J&K state namely Chenab, Jhelum, and Tawi .During heavy rains we have witnessed unprecedented spate of floods in these rivers. During Monsoon no other than Chenab river was seen with heavy floods ,During the recent floods , River Jhelum touched water level of 50 ft in last 100 years but River Chenab touch 30 to 40 ft. level in every Monsoon season and some time it touched 55 ft. which is the second highest ever recorded till date. On 10 Sept 1992 the Chenab water level touched 61 feet which led to washing away of steel bridge on river Chenab. People of the area were subjected to suffering the miseries for two years by using floating bridge constructed by Army and boats to cross the river. After 1992 catastrophe no concrete step was seen on ground to control and channelize the floods in river Chenab by the successive govts.
Soon after this tragedy during 1992 to 1997 , I contributed various articles suggesting flood protection measures , published in print media but no effort was made to reduce the risk of flooding in rivers, and which caused huge losses in floods around the state. Continuing with the struggle ,govt. was persuaded to form a separate agency to monitor , conserve and manage the water bodies and waterways of the state. As a result the state govt. created an autonomous body called " Lakes & Waterways Development Authority" (LAWDA) vide Govt. Order No. 117 of HUD dated 11 Apr 1997. But would like to mention here that LAWDA has been looking after only lakes of Kashmir province but not the waterways (rivers) of the Jammu Province and now it remains to be seen as how much LDA (Lakes Development Authority) has contributed for the conservation and management of Dal and Nagin Lakes in Srinager City.
In fact, rivers originating from Himalayan regions are so unpredictable that a permanent solution to check the reoccurring devastation is difficult but not impossible. As the total rainfall in the country is about 114 cms, of which 75 % occur during monsoon. Rivers carry high discharge during this periods and floods of varying magnitude are experienced. It is somewhat difficult to control even on techno economics ground. Depending upon the importance, areas can be provided with varying degree of flood control techniques.
Since the River Chenab is well known for changing its course every year and causing breaches on both embankments in low lying areas falling in Akhnoor belt and further to Pakistan territory we can not afford to spend continuously on costly relief operations which add nothing to growth , it is essential therefore that better use is made of the enormous money spent every year on temporary flood protections measures a permanent soft engineering flood protection process be initiated to minimize the loss caused by flash floods every year which include Long term planning, effective flood management strategies, be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable which allow the management without compromising the needs of the future generations.
It was known that Union Ministry of Water Resources has set up the high level committee of expert to consider the problems of flood in state, it is good step for framing of strategies to prevent such catastrophe in future .
It may also be suggested that:
- on the pattern of Bramputra Betwa Board and Ganga flood control Commission, the govt. may establish Chenab-Jhelum Board to render technical assistance in planning and appraising major flood control schemes , the funds for such board are provided by the union Govt.
- There shall be a Flood Forecasting and Warning Division in Board . A net work of Radio Water Level Recorder/Guage be set up on major points along the rivers routes with receivers in all administrative units so that people are warned in advance.The latest developed system includes Hydrologic models, geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing technologies for generating flood information.The information is disseminated to the Govt. Departments and communities through cell phones and txt msgs.
- Necessary surveys and investigation can be carried out in Chenab plains for the improvement of river banks, operation and maintenance of bunds on embankments in phased manners.
- Surveys can also be carried out to dermine the low and highest water line, flow speed and current during flood periods and suggest methods of construction of bunds breakwater walls on check points with respect to the degree of strength needed.
- River Channels may be widened or deepened allowing it to carry more water and may be straightened so that water can travel faster along the course.Levees may also be constructed along rivers to keep them from overflowing. These structures extend the natural banks of the river so that much more water can flow through it.
- Continuous soil erosion of the river banks is main problem for farmers who loose rich fertile land along river banks , can be stopped upto some extent by using new techniques of laying Geo textile on the land below any flood control construction work. The Dutch has developed tough , synthetic textiles to better anchor earthen levees , bunds or concrete toe walls.This prevent soil movement and water penetration.This technology is being used on most of the offshore constructions and flood protection projects in plains.
In short, we may not be able to stop flooding as it is unavoidable element in the complex weather system of our atmosphere. We can however work to minimize the damage inflicted by flooding by building dams ,levees and canals systems. But the best way to avoid flood damage may be to back out of flood prone areas on sensing the flood information through media or Radio warning systems established.
Above all most important is sense of responsibility among all those who are engaged in flood control operations. Right decision at right time is the best measure to avoid flood havoc.
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