Heavy Rain Causes Panic In Kashmir

29 March 2015
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: Six months after the devastating floods which caused huge damage across Kashmir, the Valley is once again on the edge. Panic has set in over rising water levels in the rivers of Srinagar and other areas following incessant rainfall since Saturday evening. Taking precautionary measures, shopkeepers in low-lying areas of Lal Chowk and other places have shifted their goods to safer places, while residents have moved into the upper storeys of their houses. A large number of residents of Rajbagh area of Srinagar, which was worst hit in the September 2014 floods, have also moved to safer places. The heavy downpour has submerged roads and lanes in low-lying areas of the city, including Rajbagh. According to officials, an avalanche warning stands for March 29-30 in areas of Kulgam, Pulwama, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, and Kargil districts of Kashmir. The government has asked people in these districts not to venture in avalanche-prone areas. However, the new PDP-BJP government has asked people to remain calm. 'Rainfall is expected to continue till April 4. At present, there is no need to panic,' said senior PDP leader and Minister for Roads and Buildings Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari. He said: 'We are facing issues of waterlogging. The government will not stop anyone from moving to a safer place. People should remain vigilant as continuous rainfall in the next few days could cause serious issues.' According to police, in the past 24 hours nearly 40 structures, including some houses, were damaged due to landslides caused by heavy rainfall in central Kashmir area of Budgam and South Kashmir. Rainfall has led to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the only road that links Kashmir with the rest of the world. During the last year's floods, river embankments suffered a large number of breaches. Bukhari said the government has deployed men and machinery to keep vigil on the embankments. The Opposition National Conference has asked the government to take precautions. 'The poor residents of Srinagar must be absolutely terrified. Time for the authorities to reassure them,' former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah tweeted. Deputy CM Nirmal Singh informed the Assembly, which is in session in Jammu, that the administration is on full alert in the wake of heavy rains in the Valley. 'The CM has reviewed the situation and issued instructions to set up three joint control rooms for South, North and Central Kashmir. Emergency services have been told to stay extra alert. In total, 76 pumps have been pressed into service to drain out excess water from streets,' he said.