`We did not act smartly'

Down to Earth - - KASHMIR FLOOD -

Altaf Bukhari, flood and ir­ri­ga­tion min­is­ter of Jammu and Kash­mir spoke to Down To Earth about the af­ter­math of the floods and the steps the gov­ern­ment has taken since. Ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view What, in your view, caused such a dev­as­tat­ing flood in the first place? The main rea­sons are en­croach­ment on river banks and lack of de­silt­ing of rivers. We did not act smartly. We con­structed colonies and other struc­tures on the banks of the Jhelum. No work was done on flood chan­nels. If we do not cre­ate flood chan­nels, where will ex­cess rain­wa­ter go? Has a proper study been done to un­der­stand the ex­act rea­sons be­hind the Septem­ber 2014 floods? No study has been done at the of­fi­cial level. But many peo­ple have been try­ing to un­der­stand the rea­sons. A few doc­u­men­taries have been made on the sub­ject and we think these are close to the re­al­ity. It is clear that this is all be­cause of mis­man­age­ment. And we can take pre­ven­tive mea­sures. Now, we are forc­ing peo­ple to leave en­croached ar­eas. Has any dead­line been set? What­ever chal­lenges come our way, we will re­move all en­croach­ments within 180 days. Very soon, we will start dredg­ing of rivers and ex­ist­ing flood chan­nels. We know that con­struct­ing new flood chan­nels will take at least three years af­ter ap­proval but we need im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions as pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures. The whole ad­min­is­tra­tion has been on its toes for the past eight months, mov­ing to this or that area to sup­port peo­ple af­fected by the floods.

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