By: Dr Nirmal Kamal
It is not what was initially presumed to be heavy incessant rains later turned into “Flood Fury” when a frail part of protecting embankment (baand ) supporting river Jehlum gave way to enter bowl like valley of Kashmir to cause disaster and havoc wrought in Jammu region on 3rd of this month taking toll on several of precious lives. Furious forceful outflow of water created “Pralaya” on the roads, entered shops, buildings, households, displaced and made everybody’s life – poor and rich, infants and elders, hell and swallowed whatever came in its way without caring for revered natural beauty around, envied by anyone after having glimpse of it – the paradise on earth. This could be attributed as an act of negligence by UEED or the concerned department meant to maintain embankments or say “baand’ along the rivers or the civil administration. Soon all low lying areas of the valley, merged in water with little variations of scales. Indian Army who appeared as angels, had begun its “Operation Megh Rahat” to rescue innocent people trapped in the arms of death. It is more than 15 days that these saviors are engaged in rescuing people at the risk of their own lives. By now they might have rescued nearly three lac lives. Jammu , too, had its share of catastrophe with several villages disappeared and bridges washed away, rendering hapless people home less. Torrential rains and land slides tore families apart and still people are continuing search for their loved ones all over. “Trimurti’ of Jehlum, Chinab and Tawi played “Tandav” together. Lives of all rich and poor alike suddenly came to halt. The Government failed on all fronts. Those who were boasting of achievement of development forgot that they were actually building castles on the graves.
Substantial views expressed opine that this is the worst ever tragedy in past 100 years in the history Jammu and Kashmir or may be in India. My childhood memories ,too, do not remind me of any such incident before. Rains were always welcome fun. Whenever it rained, I would lean over the railing towards Hari Singh High Street just to have glimpse of the water pouring on the road making bubbles- big and small or throwing paper boats in the pooled water or keep counting trail of vehicles moving slowly on the flooded roads. The country has braved destruction caused by several wars, Tsunami, earthquakes and cyclones of high magnitude in south, Ladakh, Odisha and in Utterakhand. Worst ever disaster at Shri Kedarnath still haunt the survivors. But most awaited rains this time came as “Flood Fury” having different magnitude and scale which has shocked every one for one reason that it is water and only water in the bowl with no drainage point. My heart is gripped with fear psychosis that the valley will not be same again due to a prediction I read somewhere, seem converging true. Once a ‘Satisar’ of revered Saint Kashayap, Srinagar will again become a “Lake”- seem coming true. Aerial view showing entire valley submerged in water confirms this hunch. Water is receding very slowly and at places refusing to recede indicate more horrible situation in the coming period. Logically, naturally bowl shaped valley has no draining out point. So the water level cannot recede immediately- is the bitter truth. The tragedy could be averted if only concerned authorities were alert, if they were genuinely cautious, if they had given priority to the security of people, if they had given heed to the advise of experts on Disaster Management and above all if they were honest to themselves.
For September 3rd catastrophe so far, no one should be blamed. But introspection is certainly required as to why such a situation was allowed to arrive at? Misplaced priorities have occupied central stage besides mythological concepts. No one has owned moral responsibility. Visibly disturbed Omar Abdullaha is making desperate efforts to save his skin by issuing justifications and defending his colleagues in vain as he is well exposed before the public. Legislative Council had lost no time in passing infamous Jammu and Kashmir Resolution on cancellation of Indo- Pak secretary level talks but had no time to come to the rescue of the hapless innocent people trapped in water. Central Government on its own placed rescuing operation in the hands of the Indian Army. Omar Abdullah’s skin added multiple wrinkles due to cancellation of talks but had no time for follow up action on Disaster Preparedness. How can no one among the Government machinery was alarmed by the forecast? How come the Disaster Management experts in the Government never thought of occurrence of such tragedy and preparedness to revert the situation? Reports appearing through media say sound warnings were conveyed in 2010. Agreed Omar- the dynamic Chief Minister, had no time for such silly things as he had other important tasks to perform like devote time on twitter, find faults with the Modi Government, supervise Golf- Ground both at Srinagar and Jammu , convince Central Government to remove AFSPA (on which he spent almost past more than five years), rehabilitate terrorists, pursue “Amnesty” for stone pelters etc. At least Government Machinery could make efforts. Why should Government machinery waste time and energy on protecting people? No one was concerned about implementing futuristic policies if any. A lots of tax money is spent on holding Seminars on Disaster Management, conclusions arrived at are never implemented. All exercise eventually become history in the absence of follow up.
I, too, personally visited some areas in Jammu, where life is washed away to find that most of the houses washed away were built along Nallahas and along the embankments out of sheer lack of vision. Certainly this was not possible without the connivance of the authorities. An inquiry is required sooner or later.
Respect to other religions is spirit of mankind. Religious divide, fanning hatred for others, has fast become culture both at the workplace and in personnel lives. Ugly scenes created during Shri Amarnath Yaatra repeatedly by some mischievous elements, deteriorating secular ethos, underestimating of supreme order of that almighty – Nature, cannot be ruled out. Man forgot that this State is land of saints. Undoubtedly, this is Nature’s verdict against all those responsible. “Satisar” of Rishi- Kashayap re-emerged in the form of “Flood Fury” conveying message to empower “Dharam over Adharam” to the bloody agents of destruction. You believe it or not, Kashmir is integral part of Indian Culture. This is the “Verdict of Nature”.