Stating that unplanned development all across Kashmir could have serious consequences, the Ministry of Home Affairs has called for corrective measures to prevent disasters like the 2014 floods.
This has been stated in the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs’ latest report ‘Kashmir Floods 2014 – Recovery to Resilience’.
Executive Director, NIDM, Taj Hassan in the foreword of the report says that the 2014 flood caused 287 deaths, adversely affecting around two million people. “It paralysed Srinagar city for several days. Central government, several states and union territories came forward to help Jammu and Kashmir,” he writes. “The documentation of the 2014 Kashmir flood has drawn lessons for future course of action and for managing similar events in a well-coordinated manner. “
The 2014 floods severely affected the healthcare system with 102 institutions of the Directorate of Health Services in Kashmir being impacted.
Four of the five major hospitals in Srinagar had to be shut down due to the floods.
The Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar remained submerged in floodwaters for nearly three weeks.
Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS), one of the largest premier hospitals in Kashmir, was non-functional for over two weeks as the floodwater rendered hospital beds, medical and diagnostic equipment, and hospital transport useless.
On the other hand, the education sector suffered badly as out of 11,526 primary and middle school buildings, 1986 collapsed, and 2685 were partially damaged.
Even after the floods, the schools remained affected for up to three months.
The housing sector of Kashmir alone suffered losses of over Rs 30,000 crore.
“There is a need for the installation of flood forecasting and early warning systems at appropriate locations along with regular monitoring,” reads the report. “There are three hydrological stations in J&K — Sangam, Ram Munshi Bagh and Safpora -installed on the River Jhelum, which runs through Kashmir, by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department.
“In September 2014, these stations detected a rise in water levels from 5.3 meters on September 3, 2014, to 10.13 meters on September 4, 2014,” the report states.
“The local authorities could not interpret the alarming signals of the rising water levels as these stations were only used to monitor the flow of water from India to Pakistan and were not designated as flood forecasting stations,” says the report. “If these stations had provided flood forecasts to the state authorities, they could have prepared for flood recovery by initiating early evacuation from low-lying areas, deploying special teams, and arranging relief supplies.”
According to the report, although the erstwhile State government approved a disaster management policy in 2012, the institutional system and allocation of responsibilities to departments during natural disasters were still incomplete.
“District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) was not established in most districts of the Union Territory (UT). Gaps and deficiencies were identified in institutional arrangements, policies, and plan formulation, as well as in the implementation of pre-disaster measures,” the NIDM report says. “There is a need for improvement in the utilisation of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) funds to augment available resources and ensure their utilisation for intended disaster preparedness and relief.”
It highlights deficiencies and delays in damage and needs assessment, diversion of relief funds, and delays in reaching relief and assistance to affected individuals.
It says there is an urgent need to institutionalise disaster management in the region to address the persisting issues comprehensively.