It happens every year. This year too, after a spate of truly devastating heat, a heavy spell of rain came, soon after few millimetres of rain, srinagar city was inundated. As the sheets of rain pelted the thirsty city, the streets, main roads, drainage system of the city were inundated leaving shop owners in whole city especially in commercial hub Lalchowk in a tough time to reach their business establishments, as a result the work done by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) to prepare for the monsoon came under question. After few minutes of rain, electricity in major areas of the city disappeared too, leaving residents without recourse.
The convergence of catastrophe would seem impossible or absurd if it were not true. The Srinagar city home to over one million people, faces flooding every year because there is no proper drainage system constructed so far that would allow rainwater to pass through the storm drains. There are no proper flood channels at all, nor does the gradient of poorly constructed streets encourage the flow of water.
After the rains stoppee, the stagnant rain water and sewage created major health hazard. In particular, the foetid water heightened the risk of gastrointestinal diseases. Several residents of the city aftermath the rains were seen complaining of high fever, common cold and other communicable diseases. Covid cases rised too in the valley since then possibly due to the stagnant rainwater,litter and the inedible parts of animals being slaughtered all thrown upon open garbage piles-creating further sanitary nightmares. The flooded streets and the garbage piles mean that everything that is in them will mix together in a disgusting, disease-laden stew that made it’s way all through city.
The problem of throwing the litter from the dustbins of home, inedible parts of animals being slaughtered on marriage ceremony and on other functions into the already blocked drains existed alongside the increasing Coronavirus cases which as expected is touching peak.Since the city faced heavy waterlogging the latest highly communicable varients have increased the positivity rate in valley.
It is difficult for the taxpaying citizens of Srinagar city to understand why a proper drainage system and roads which will encourage the rainwater to flow towards rivers are not constructed. Year after year, articles like this one appeal for the need to create a proper storm water drainage system in the city. The fact that everyone knows what needs to be done and that millions pay taxes in the city hope that it will be done makes the situation extremely frustrating.
Such is the poor state of the infrastructure and Municipal management of the city that demanding all these things seema like a fever dream.
It seems that extreme weather events, particularly heavy rains and floods will now become a regular feature and the state can I’ll afford to ignore the impact of natural disasters to have on infrastructure. In many areas of our Srinagar city, even moderate rainfall creats potholes on the road surface, while in some cases arteries are reduced to mud tracks. This shows that those building and maintaining these roads have either been negligent or worse had knowingly used inferior material in construction. Infrastructure in Srinagar city-roads, drainage system, public spaces needs to be overhauled to make it climate-resilent. Of course, the authorities have little time to focus on such ket areas that affect the people. However unless we plan for the future, we will be doomed to repeat this cycle of misery and destruction year after year.
Author is pursuing M.Sc in chemistry from Kashmir University.