Public Square

Flooding In Urban Areas

Few days back, the onset of monsoon in Jammu took shape of devastation with rains causing flash floods in low lying areas of Jammu. Once again this early morning calamity shattered many souls who were still sleeping and were all of a sudden surrounded by knee deep flood waters around their beds. Issue of flash floods in these low lying urban areas is not new and such incidents are now becoming yearly affair. All these areas which witness flash floods are close to nullahs which swell during monsoon and the impact of such flooding is severe as all the urban areas these days are densely populated. But knowing all this, nothing solid in past years has been done by concerned government departments to protect the people who annually suffer losses. It also appears that many of the officers are dangerously insensitive to this local problem.

Firstly, encroachment near nullahs by some people in shape of illegal construction has created interference in the natural path of rain water which results in flooding. This also reflects connivance of the employees of various departments in these urban areas. They all are playing in the hands of land mafia by ignoring violations around all these nullahs. Secondly, concrete slabs over nullahs have converted these nullahs into drains. Basically, nullahs were covered with slabs to maintain hygiene. However, with this covering all nullahs required regular cleaning to prevent choking. But this part was ignored and now it has caused permanent chocking in several areas resulting into blockage. This is not all, with these slabs encroachment too has increased. People have created parking lots, started putting household articles on concrete slabs and in some cases even dairy farms are operating from nullah slabs.  Thirdly, adding to this whole problem is dumping of solid waste in these nullahs. The regular dumping of solid waste into these nullahs has raised ground level of these nullahs and helps rain water to divert from its path.

Inspite of number of regular complaints by residents in these areas against all these issues no change is witnessed. The local officers prefer to ignore rather than taking action on it. Accountability should be brought in to end this carelessness which is damaging institutional governance. It’s time that for every year devastation government officers should be held responsible. And stern action should be taken against all those who fail to act in their respective areas. A probe too should be ordered and taken to logical conclusion to unearth unholy nexus between officers & land mafia. Government action against encroachers’ should not only be limited to ‘state land’ and violations around nullahs too should be dealt seriously. The greed of some people is causing flooding in urban areas. Besides, some steps should be taken to stop sealing the nullahs with concrete slabs. Some policy should be drafted to maintain the width of nullahs because with reduced width the capacity to carry both natural and drainage water is reduced. Most importantly focus should be laid on easy and regular cleaning methods for the nullahs.

Although these days direction to deliver justice to people from office of J&K LG is issued but on this, anything will happen only when no more time is spent in ‘close door meetings’ or else large destruction may happen in Jammu in shape of loss of lives and property. Proper implementation of policies can only prevent this man-made disaster. Only photo ops done to highlight ‘Smart City Project’ and campaigns like ‘Swachh Bharat’ won’t work in long term. Already these photo ops have stand exposed many times when rain water clogged roads in Jammu city. The citizens have a big role to play in this. Before that they need to be given options like designated spaces for ‘dumping anything’ only then will this trend of ‘dumping anything-anywhere’ will end. The situation will only get worse if all the multiple options are not adopted against the key threats for protection against these floods.

 

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About the author

Dr Satwant Singh Rissam

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