The concern – sustainability of the environment – in recent years has been raised across the world along with its ramifications. The global concern about sustainability arose as a result of increasing environmental degradation. One of the offshoots of environmental degradation is the massive floods whose threat is more perceptible than before. Drainage system and water runoff as related concerns have been building momentum through various environmental movements.
After the massive floods of September 2014 in Kashmir, many lessons were served but unfortunately even today an hour’s rainfall in the Srinagar City put a question mark on the drainage system as almost all streets get inundated. The situation that we witnessed recently was worse in the heart of the city – Lal Chowk. The tragedy is that no one expected that a little downpour will lead to such water logging in the city centre and the water will enter shops and damage all that comes its way. On Thursday morning the shopkeepers in Srinagar got surprised after seeing their shops become pools overnight. The grim picture was when a viral video of some youth swimming in the shop was shared on social media
Humor aside, water logging due to poor drainage system is a grave problem in Srinagar City as today life is thrown out of gear due to minor downpour. In most of the schools attendance remained thin as students could not reach school on time and the kids stayed at their homes, which is no less than a tragedy. Another unfortunate thing is that valuable goods got damaged due this water logging leading to economic loss of the shopkeepers. Not only this, but a good number of vehicles plying over the inundated streets also developed technical faults.
Every year hefty amount is withdrawn from the state exchequer for the development of drainage in the so-called smart city, but how and where it is spend is a million dollar question.
Another tragedy is that no one seems responsible and there is complete lack of coordination among the departments like SMC, UEED, LAWDA, etc which was also obvious in the video captured by media persons at Lal Chowk. The Deputy Mayor was himself confused as whose responsibility it is to look after the drainage system in the city. Meanwhile, the Mayor held previous governments responsible for the failure and demanded Rs 1100 crore funding to upgrade the drainage system. Till date people are confused as who to call in case of water logging. Each department throws the ball in the court of another, and the poor people are suffering which is the most unfortunate matter.
Although there are many dewatering stations installed in the city but most of them are non functional due to fuel shortage or some technical snag. Besides that mobile pump sets used for dewatering are of little carrying capacity, hence it takes hours together to dewater the flooded streets.
Technically speaking there is no chance of cloud burst in the city and interestingly Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) held cloud burst responsible for water logging which is a big tragedy, thereby diverting the attention from the core issue. The tragedy does not end here as the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar added insult to injuries by holding people responsible for the whole mess. Putting curtain on the issue of water logging by saying that people have choked the drains by dumping garbage in drains, my simple question is what is waste management agency in city doing, the agency on which crores are spent every year.
Water logging in Srinagar city needs immediate solution. Before attempting to improve the drainage system, it is important that the reasons for the water runoff and the causes of the drainage failure be analyzed so that effective mechanism is put in place. Otherwise ill-planning will lead us to nowhere.