Wrains began in Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K) on the morning of HEN THE September 3,it was just another day for Vijay Gadhia.The 50-year-old employee of Jammu’s Power Development Department had gone to Srinagar with his colleagues for official work. He expected the next day to be bright and sunny. A day of rain in the region is usually followed by a day of sunshine. But the rain did not stop. Instead, he heard the news that a bus carrying 70 members of a wedding party was washed away by flash floods in Rajouri, of which 50 could not be traced. On the night of September 4, the Doodh Ganga, a tributary of the Jhelum flowing through Srinagar, breached its embankment following a cloudburst in its catchment area. On September 5, the water level in the Tawi and Chenab rivers in Jammu rose dramatically. Flood control bunds were washed away, bridges collapsed and agricultural land got submerged. Rains continued to lash the region in the next few days triggering landslides that disrupted highways and snapped power lines. Till the afternoon of September 5, Srinagar residents were clicking photographs of the gradually swelling Jhelum to post on social media.
On the night of September 5,the Jhelum too breached its embankment at Padshahi Bagh, following which there was a half-hearted attempt by the state administration to warn the people. Announcements were made from several mosques in the city at 10 pm. Residents were asked to move to the first floor of their houses.But the announcements came late. Most people had gone to bed. Many of those who were awake ignored the words. According to Gadhia, it hardly sounded like a warning. Those who did not have a multi-storey building had no choice.By the time the announcements started, some parts of Srinagar were already submerged in waist-deep water.
Gadhia and his colleagues sensed trouble and fled Srinagar, spent four days in the wilderness without food and water before reaching the Shankaracharya hill on September 12.“After that we reached the Governor House from where we were airlifted to Jammu, ”Gadhia told Down To Earth.
Rainfall in Srinagar for September crossed its 10-year-high mark of 151.9 mm in 1992 within 24 hours. This year, the city received 156.7 mm of rainfall on September 5 alone
A CITY UNDER WATER
In September, rainfall in Srinagar crossed its 10-year-high mark—151.9 mm of rainfall in September 1992—within 24 hours. This year, the city received 156.7 mm of rainfall on September 5 alone. The average monthly rainfall for Srinagar is 56.4 mm. The India Meteorological Department recorded more than 500 mm of rainfall in the first week of September. The floodwater started receding from September 11, but till September 13 more than 70 per cent of Srinagar was still submerged, with tens of thousands of people stranded.
The two distinct water channels flowing through the city—the Jhelum and the flood channel, an artificial outlet created in 1904 to drain out excess water from the Jhelum in case of flood—had merged into a big, brown lake. Some of the worst-affected areas include Allochi Bagh, Tulsi Bagh, Wazir Bagh, Rajbagh, Zero Bridge and areas along the right bank of the Jhelum. Maisuma, Natipora, Lal Chowk and several localities in Civil Lines remained submerged under two metres of water.
Murtaza Khan, a former legislator, spent three days on the roof of the mla hostel building on M A Road. “The pace and level of rescue operation was only five per cent of the required scale.The Army or the National Disaster Response Force (ndrf ) hardly knew about Srinagar. They had no idea which area was densely populated with kuccha houses and which had high-rises, nor did they know where the water currents were maximum and why, ”he says.