Editorial . . . . . . . . .
Recently, district heads in UT of Jammu and Kashmir are taking note of the preparations being made by the responsible departments. Recently, deputy commissioner Jammu Avny Lavasa presided over a meeting and reviewed flood prevention preparedness with the stakeholder departments in light of the upcoming monsoon season.
The annual monsoons inevitably leave behind a trail of death and damage in numerous districts of Jammu & Kashmir. The monsoon is the lifeline of an agriculture-driven economy but also causes significant loss of life and property throughout its July-to-September journey over the J&K in particular, unleashing fatal landslides, and flooding of numerous regions, and damages to homes. The romance connected to the rains is transformed into a horror narrative each year. Buildings crumble, sidewalks cave in and swallow pedestrians, and roads turn into cesspools. Damaged electricity lines electrocute people and certain areas remain in pitch darkness and without electricity for a long period of time, especially in remote hilly areas. People begin lamenting the rain as city streets turn into raging torrents and drainage spills into living rooms. Homes and means of support are destroyed by floods in villages. Landslides occur frequently in the area, burying numerous people. Dams extend to the point of burst, and rivers and their tributaries engulf vast tracts of flat ground. Rail, road, and air transportation are all impacted. The infectious illness cycle then begins. Numerous diseases such as dengue, malaria, influenza, and fever aggravate the problems of a common man to a new height.
Since the earliest times, the hilly and plain terrain of Jammu and Kashmir has seen monsoons. But every year, when our civic authorities are overtaken, they react in the same casual and unprofessional manner. The disaster management system’s flaws are frequently revealed by the first rain. By the end of July, we are all living in flooded pits and blaming the rain, the UT government, and our pathetic life. Every year, the terrible story is repeated. There are a lot of fatalities and homeless people. As the monsoon gradually ends, some part of the region endures a drought-like situation. People must also wait for water tankers, water in irrigation canals, and drought relief supplies.
The culprit is global warming. The monsoon’s pattern has altered. Such justifications are displayed year after year for the disastrous failure of governance. Nobody contests the effects of global warming. However, the clogging of drains has less to do with any El Nino or other climatic phenomenon and more to do with excessive plastic usage, indiscriminate rubbish disposal, and poor drainage systems. Flooding is already getting worse due to unplanned urbanization. Between 2009 and 2021, the urban population of the Jammu district increased by lakhs of people. When hard surfaces like roads and parking lots replace permeable soil, rain runoff inevitably increases. In addition, encroaching urbanization has been spreading onto floodplains and building on forests. And rainfall patterns themselves might be being impacted by urbanization. The Himalayas no longer have much vegetation covering them. Due to illegal and excessive quarries, many foothills have disappeared. The poor and marginalized people pay the price, as in every tale of personal greed.
Numerous people, particularly the poor and marginalized, are left defenseless as a result of short-sighted policies, greed, and vote-bank politics. The administration of Jammu and Kashmir must implement innovative ecosystem-based flood management strategies that are being championed by national and international organizations but have not yet gained a foothold in J&K. Planning cities with ponds and permeable surfaces, restoring wetlands and forests, and controlling development in floodplains and hills are just a few examples of what this entails. Environment protection and disaster risk reduction go hand in hand.
We hope, the higher-level authority has already issued directions to all concerned departments regarding the identification of vulnerable points, the cleaning of deep drains and nallahs, and the readiness of men and equipment with tents, boats, sandbags, life jackets, and other rescue equipment. Dewatering pumps should also be made available at vulnerable locations as a precaution. To prevent water logging during rainstorms, the JMC/KMC and R&B Department should also be asked to finish the deep drain de-silting beforehand and arrangements of sufficient stock of medicines require in this regard by the health department. Authorities at the helm of affairs should adopt new ecosystem-based flood management approaches to resolve the issue.