Seven months after the devastating floods, Kashmir was today staring at another deluge following incessant rains with River Jhelum in spate at several places in the Valley while 16 people were feared trapped after two houses collapsed in Budgam district.
As authorities declared a flood situation in the Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage and assured the state of all assistance.
Civil administration and police have asked people living along the banks of River Jhelum to move to safer places and launched rescue and relief operation operation at several places including Laden village in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district where two houses collapsed due to caving in of earth.
“At least 16 persons of the two families are believed to be trapped inside. Rescue efforts are going on,” a police official said.
Heavy rains over the past 36 hours have resulted in River Jhelum flowing above the flood alert mark at several places including Sangam in Anantnag district and Ram Munshi Bagh in the city.
Hamdania colony in Bemina area of the city was inundated after a breach in the banks of a canal last night.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh informed the Legislative Assembly about the situation as the House met today in Jammu. He said most of the Nallahs in the Valley were flowing with high and increasing discharge.
Three control rooms have been set up with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed along with a team of Ministers monitoring the whole situation in the Valley and supervising the administrative response to safeguard life and property of people, Singh said.
Temporary camps have been set up in various government buildings for people who have been forced to leave their homes. Nearly 250 families were evacuated to safer areas from across the flood prone areas of the valley yesterday while over 40 structures were damaged due to landslides on Friday in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district.
The Chief Minister visited some of the areas in the city this morning.
The school board examinations have been postponed for two days while schools have been closed for the next four days.
The heavy downpour has caused fresh landslides along the 294-km Srinagar-Jammu National Highway as the only all weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country remained closed for the third straight day today.
Authorities have also issued an avalanche warning for seven districts of Kashmir division and advised people not to move around.
The two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, comprising about 50 personnel each, were taken in an IAF plane from Bhatinda in Punjab to Srinagar.
Four other teams will be on standby, NDRF Director General O P Singh told PTI.
The teams which have been airlifted are equipped with communication, rescue and retrieval gadgets as per the standard operating procedures to combat flood situations, he said.
Over 280 people were killed, tens of thousands left homeless and property worth hundreds of crores of rupees damaged in massive floods in the state in September last year.
The water level in Jhelum at Sangam at 1100 hours was 22.35 feet, rising above the flood mark of 21 feet. At Ram Munshi Bagh the water level was 19.40 feet. The flood mark here is 18 feet.
Rainfall has stopped in the city this morning and slowed down in south Kashmir. Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said the situation is expected to get better.
However, according to Met department heavy rainfall is likely to occur at isolated places in the state over the next few days.
The floods last year had caught the state unprepared and unleashed unprecedented devastation in the Valley.
Chief Minister Sayeed promised that compensation will be given to all the affected people. “We will try to compensate as much as we can. I hope with God’s grace the situation will improve,” he said, adding that his ministerial colleagues have been in the field since yesterday following a flood alert.
Before leaving for the Valley, Naqvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is also worried about the situation and he is ready and committed to help the people”.
“The Centre is committed to provide all help required by the state,” he said.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voiced hope that authorities will take adequate steps to help the people.
“We don’t want to play politics on the situation. It has been only seven months and once again the people are face to face with another tragedy,” he told reporters.
An avalanche warning was issued by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir yesterday for avalanche prone areas of Kulgam, Pulwama, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Kargil districts, an official spokesman said.
The people living in these districts were advised not to venture in avalanche-prone areas during the next 24 hours, the spokesman said.
“During heavy snowfall, people are advised not to occupy and temporarily evacuate those locations which are under fall line of avalanches,” he said.