Dredging drag

Published at September 08, 2017 01:32 AM 0Comment(s)14592views

Dredging drag

A report published in this newspaper on Thursday revealed that only 50 percent of flood silt has been removed from Jhelum in last three years. Against the target of 16 lakh cubic metres of silt that was to be dredged only 8.23 lakh cubic metres has been removed. Nodal officer of the department, Mohammad Aslam Zargar, has made an interesting disclosure – that dredging alone will not be enough to avert future floods. Whether such a view is corroborated by facts needs to be seen, but there is no doubt on the shrinking of breathing space around the river and different water bodies including wetlands. On the assumption that dredging won’t help, it is either too late to say that or too clumsy to admit that the department is still struggling with a workable solution. It is late because with half of the job done and that too in three years no one wants to hear that it is an exercise in waste. It is clumsy because it gives the impression that the department rolled out its plans without doing the homework properly. After three years the department should have a foolproof plan and in execution phase. It should rather be reaching its completion as the disaster like 2014 floods can strike any time. There have been few situations after 2014 when the city had a close shave with the water level reaching up to the danger mark. Increasing the carrying capacity of the river became all important after the floods as large amount of silt got deposited that further reduced the passable volume. So far the opinion of the people is different than that of authorities. While authorities have been claiming that dredging of Jhelum is being done meticulously, the view of the people is that the department has botched up the exercise. It was only in Feb-March 2016 when Governor Vohra ordered the department to increase the pace as it (department) lagged behind in reaching its targets. The governor stressed on speedy dredging of the river and beautification. The Chief Engineer (I&FC) at that time informed the governor that the cumulative target set was over 8 lakh cubic metres to be achieved by the end of March 2016. The Chief Engineer had also assured that dredging will continue round the year and irrespective of what water levels are. Inability to achieve targets may be acceptable but to shift the attention towards choked arteries of the water bodies and encroachment may not be. There is a need to revisit the entire plan of the department with an eye on how much difference the dredging would make, of course supported with empirical data.                   





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