Understanding The Dynamics Of Floods In Kashmir

“Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.” – Franklin D Roosevelt

Out of many natural disasters which wreak havoc on mother earth, one of the most deadly and terrifying one is floods. Floods affect millions of people worldwide each year. It is true that one-hundred prevention of natural disasters is impossible but as responsible living beings, mankind can, at the very least, take all measures to alleviate damages caused by the disaster. As climate change intensifies, frequency and severity of floods have increased, making flood preparedness an all the more urgent priority. Spreading awareness can help us in taking measures that individuals, communities and governments can take to enhance flood preparedness and minimize impact of these catastrophic events. Effective flood preparedness requires a proactive approach, involving comprehensive planning, infrastructure improvements, community engagement and collaboration among stakeholders.

Kashmir valley is renowned for pristine landscapes; however, it is susceptible to floods due to its geographical characteristics and climate patterns. Several factors contribute towards the Kashmir region being prone to floods. The most prominent factor is its geographical location. Kashmir is surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains making it a basin-like region with many rivers and water bodies. The Jhelum River, which flows through the valleys, plays a significant role in draining out the region’s excess water during heavy rainfall and the snowmelt. Monsoon season typically occurs from June to September in Kashmir, bringing heavy rainfall to the region. The combination of intense rainfall and region’s topography many a times leads to rapid runoff and overflowing rivers. Flooding in many parts of Kashmir valley is majorly caused due to this reason. Jhelum River carries a significant amount of silt during the monsoon season. Over time silt deposition reduces the capacity of river leading to an increased overflow during heavy rains.

Winters bring snowfall in entire Kashmir valley. The entire region is blanketed in a thick layer of snow, creating a picturesque panorama that seems straight out of a fairy tale. However, the snow starts melting with onset of spring and early summer. The melting of snow in higher reaches of the Himalayas causes heavy deluge of water into rivers and streams. Sudden warm temperatures or heavy rainfall during this period leads to increased snowmelt and is the main cause of flooding in these times. In rare and extreme cases, Kashmir is also prone to floods caused by glacial lake outbursts, which occur when the water in a glacial lake is suddenly released due to the collapse of a natural dam or the melting of an ice barrier in the last three decades the major culprit which is rearing its head happens to be none other than the deforestation and unplanned urbanization by the mankind. Deforestation has started aggravating flood risks as it has greatly reduced the natural water absorption process of soil and increased surface runoff, leading to increasing number of floods low-lying areas in the recent years.

As climate change continues to exacerbate flooding events, addressing damages caused by floods has become an urgent priority, especially in regions like Kashmir which is now making rapid progress in infrastructure development and tourism industry is fueling the economy by leaps and bounds. There is an urgent need to take measures to effectively counter and address the damages likely to be caused by this horrific natural disaster. Local authorities after thoroughly assessing the flood risk should conduct flood hazard mapping, considering factors such as geographical features, historical flood data and climate predictions. It will enable the local authorities in targeted planning and resource allocation. Governments and communities must prioritize construction and maintenance of flood-resistant buildings, bridges, and roads. Utilizing sustainable engineering practices and materials can help structures withstand flood forces and reduce post-flood repair costs.

With advent of technologies such as remote sensing and real-time data monitoring, authorities can predict flood events more accurately and issue timely warnings to vulnerable areas. It will be very helpful in timely evacuation and taking preventive measures. Nature-based solutions, such as wetland restoration, afforestation and sustainable land management play a vital role in reducing flood damages. Wetlands act as natural buffers that absorb excess water during floods, mitigating their impacts downstream. Afforestation helps to retain rainwater and educes soil erosion while sustainable land management practices reduce runoff and increase of water absorption in urban areas.

Educating communities about flood risks and preparedness measures is essential in reducing damages. Training individuals in emergency response and evacuation procedures equips them to act swiftly and safely during floods. Community drills and workshops can help raise awareness and promote a culture of preparedness that fosters resilience in the face of disasters. Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems, such as river banks and flood plains is essential for flood risk reduction. Proper river management, including dredging and channel widening can increase a river’s capacity to handle floodwaters effectively. Emphasizing sustainable practices and reducing human interference in flood-prone areas is crucial in mitigating flood damages.

Encouraging individuals and businesses to invest in flood insurance is crucial in addressing post-flood damages. Insurance coverage can help recover losses and expedite the rebuilding process. Governments should also establish disaster relief funds and financial assistance programs to support affected communities, helping them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of a flood. Addressing the damages caused by floods requires a multi-faceted approach involving government, communities and individuals. We can build resilience against devastating impact of floods by implementing comprehensive flood mapping and warning systems, embracing nature-based solutions, promoting flood insurance and fostering community education and preparedness. With proactive measures, collaboration and forward-thinking we can create more sustainable future.

Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of The Morn

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