As Jhelum crossed 22 feet, at PCR – Ministers, officers planned and prayed
Srinagar: During Mondays review meeting of the flood situation by the Government, a peeved senior member of the Cabinet asked the Army representative the reason for failure to blow up the embankment on Kandizaal in the early hours of Monday. The Armyâ€™s reply left many in the meeting shocked.
Sources say Army told the Minister that the explosives, the experts and detonators were all kept at different places and as such they were unable to collect all three together in time for the scheduled time of blowing up the embankments which was around 3 AM Monday morning.
No one present in the meeting brought the story as the CRPF which was requested at 0230 AM on Monday to blow up Kandizaal was able to move men and explosives within two hours. By the time CRPF reached the spot the night had passed and the embankments had managed to keep Jhelum under control. With no heavy rains the Government decided to call off the operation, though Plan A was to blow it up.
Sources within the Government insist that it was not just better management and intervention that saved Srinagar from flooding but a lot of good luck too played its part. Sources insist that the situation was â€˜very grimâ€™ around 0100 AM on Monday as heavy rains lashed South and Central Kashmir raising the level of Jhelum at Sangam to just over 22 feet. â€œ In September floods Jhelum had crossed 24 feet at Sangam. This time when in touched 22 feet there it was effectively way above danger mark as from September lot of silt and sediments have accumulated in Jhelum thus reducing the holding capacity of the river. So in reality 22 feet was almost 25 feet and we were preparing for the worstâ€, a top official told Kashmir Monitor adding that everyone in the PCR was praying to God.
Those present inside the PCR insist that the Government had just one motto, whatever happened donâ€™t let Srinagar sink again. â€œSeeing the involvement of top ministers and officers, the lower officers worked efficiently and selflessly. They were working on weakened embankments but there was a general sense that we wont left floods happen againâ€, said an officer present in PCR.
At the Police Control Room Cabinet Ministers including Finance Minister Dr.Haseeb Drabu, R&B Minister Altaf Bukhari, Youth and IT Minister Imran Ansari along with top officers of Police and Administration had begun to sweat. The plan to blow up KandiZaal had almost failed and Jhelum was running in fury but so far with help from men and machines the embankments were holding on.From Jammu PDP President and MP South Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti was awake all night and was in touch with her Cabinet Ministers through telephone throughout the night. The last call she made to her colleagues was minutes before her Ministers left the PCR at just over 4 AM.
â€œ At one point we had all given up almost. We had begun to plan rescue operations. The mood was grim till we got the news the water level had begun to stabilize and was now increasing in inches instead of feet. With no new rains we decided to take our chances and delay extreme measuresâ€, says a JK Police officer.
With no fresh rains being reported since 2 AM on Monday the Government had decided to take a calculated risk and work on strengthening embankments and covering breaches instead of blowing them up. Under an able stewardship of Drabu and Bukhari the same officers who had failed people in September stood up to the challenge and saved Srinagar, and to fight with Jhelum on another day. (Courtesy: Kashmir Monitor)