Water recedes but public anger mounts

Parts of Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Bemina, Qamarwari remain inundated
More than 200 dewatering pumps at work: Div Comm

1It has almost been a month since flood waters ripped through different parts of Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, but the authorities are yet to dewater many areas of the city. Heaps of garbage remains unattended along the roadsides and the stench hangs heavy in the air.
Even as pumps and dewatering stations are at work, the worst flood-hit areas Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, parts of Bemina and Qamarwari are still inundated.
As the lanes of residential colonies remain under remain under several feet of water, the authorities are clueless as to when the city would be completely dewatered.
“We can’t give a proper time frame as to when the city would be completely dewatered. We are trying to make it possible at the earliest,” Commissioner PHE and Irrigation and Flood Control, Pawan Kotwal told Rising Kashmir.
People are angry over what they view as inadequate government response.
“My three-storey house was under water. I left with my two kids and wife at midnight. Even though water level has come down, the drainage water is still in our ground floor. We are not able to go in boats nor can we walk through the debris which is under water,” said Manzoor Ahmed, a resident of Raj Bagh.
The affected people are also worried about the safety of their belongings which are vulnerable to theft as windows and doors of the houses remain open after swelling in water.
“Unless the water is cleared from our area completely, it is not even safe to move around the locality. We helplessly watch each day and go back to places where we have taken shelter,” Manzoor said.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Divisional Commissioner, Rohit Kansal said more than 200 pumps, including big pumps from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), UEED and PHE are being used for dewatering.
“The dewatering stations of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which were inundated, have also been made functional again,” he added.
Regarding the hurdles in dewatering the interiors of Raj Bagh, Kotwal said: “We are facing the challenge as we pull out five inches of water from a certain area, next day it gets filled by two inches again. It is due to the depth in the area and the drainage needs to get empty first.”
About the difficulties in Qamarwari, Divisional Commissioner said: “Traditionally this area does not have a good drainage system and the water channels are far away. Therefore, to get water out from one area it has to pass through another. We face hurdles from people who do not allow the water to pass from their area.”
On Monday, the Kawgi Adda dewatering station has been readied to work in the area around Bemina and Qamarwari.
At Raj Bagh, five pumps have been set up on the banks of river Jhelum near Hatrick restaurant.
“We have deliberately breached embankment near Presentation Convent School from where the floodwater is also being pushed out,” Kotwal said.
Kashmir was hit by one of the worst floods in a century in which at least 281 people died while thousands were rendered homeless.
The government and administration were caught unawares on September 6 with government failing to use its machinery to sound a red alert for evacuating the people from the low lying areas of the Valley.
Public Address Systems were not used to alert the population and most people living in the danger zones slept without knowing the dangers of staying put in their habitations.
After the floods, the government was conspicuous with its absence with the ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats and police administration failing to reach out to the people.

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