Devastating floods silt up Jhelum

Govt identifies blockades, to undertake dredging

The devastating floods in Kashmir last month have extensively silted up the river Jhelum and its spill channels hampering smooth flow of waters.
Incessant rains in Kashmir led to abrupt rise in water levels of Jhelum on September 7 submerging habitations on both sides of its embankments. The water level in Jhelum broke all records crossing 33-feet at Sangam in Anantnag and 23-feet at Ram Munshi Bagh.
During the floods, tons of silt from mountainous catchments of Jhelum settled in the river drastically affecting its hydrological system. As the flood water has receded, increase in the level of river bed due to extensive siltation is hampering its normal water flow.
“Tons of silt has accumulated in the Jhelum during floods affecting its drainage capacity and velocity,” Prof. Shakil Romshoo, Head, Department of Earth Sciences, Kashmir University, told Greater Kashmir.
He said after the floods in 1959, government had promptly dredged the river to sustain its carrying capacity. “Government should on priority undertake dredging of the river before start of the next hydrological year from April,” he said.
Originating from Verinag, Jhelum spans over 175 sq kms from south to north Kashmir. Jhelum is joined by four streams, Sundran, Brang, Arapath and Lidder in Islamabad (Anantnag) district. Besides, small streams like Veshara and Rambiara also feed the river with fresh waters. The river settles in Wullar lake before flowing to Pakistan administered Kashmir through Baramulla district.
Jhelum which passes through Srinagar has a capacity of 35,000 cusecs and the flood spill channel of the river has a capacity of between 12,000 and 15,000 cusecs. On September 7, nearly one lakh cusecs of water entered Srinagar city.
Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control, Javid Jaffar said dredging will be started in Jhelum from November. “The force of flood waters was intense that it washed off land at many places and changed course of many streams flowing into Jhelum. This has led to extensive siltation of Jhelum and decreased its carrying capacity,” Jaffar said.
He said winter is considered to be best time for dredging due to low water levels in Jhelum. “We have identified blockades in Jhelum due to accumulation of silt. We have auctioned many sites for removal of silt and sand. The department will also press into service its machines to undertake dredging of the river and its spill channels,” he added.

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