The Kashmir Valley is bracing for a major flood with water level in the Jhelum river, traversing from south Kashmir to north through Srinagar city, is rising with each passing hour as incessant rains continue to lash the Valley for third consecutive day on Thursday.
As over 50 villages and parts of Srinagar are battling flood. The government has declared red alert and asked people to evacuate to safer places.
"The people living along the banks of river Jehlum and embankments of different water bodies are asked to move to safer areas immediately in view of the flood situation," said Kashmir divisional commissioner.
Incessant rains for the past three days have resulted in Kashmir's main river Jhelum flowing above danger mark; more than seven feet above danger level.
The water-level of the river at Srinagar's Ram Munshi Bagh is over 21 metres, while as it is 28.8 metres at Sangam.
"We have shifted all belongings to the second floor of our house since 5 am. We are waiting water to recede, otherwise we will have to leave the area and water can breach any time now," said Imran Yousuf, a resident of Srinagar's posh locality of Padshahi Bagh area, housing bungalows.
A vast area on the one side of Jhelum river in Srinagar remains inundated. The water level in Jhelum near commercial hub Lal Chowk is a few feet from the walkway. Any breach can flood entire commercial hub.
Over 50 villages in south Kashmir are badly hit by flood water. Hundreds of flood-affected people have been shifted to safer locations.
Abdul Gaffal Sofi, an MLA from Kulgam's Humshalibugh area told a news portal, "The government has not reached the affected areas and I have reports that people are doing everything on their own."
In the wake of grim situation in south Kashmir, the government on Thursday claimed to have despatched 50 boats to south Kashmir for evacuation of people. "Another 100 boats are being procured for the purpose," said a government spokesman.
Several concrete bridges have caved in south and central Kashmir cutting off several villages. People continue to remain stranded at several places.
"Dozens of people were saved at Nowpora-Kulgam, Kunzer, Tangmarg, Ganderbal, Pulwama and Pattan," said a police spokesman.
With the meteorological department warning more rains for next two days, the government seems caught unaware with magnitude of crisis growing with each passing hour.
The officials said five lakh sand bags have been kept available at various places.
"The Air Force has also been asked to keep air rescue plan in place for utilisation," said the spokesman.
In Srinagar's Bemina area, the Hamdania Colony remains inundated since Thursday night. "Since 2 am we are calling district administration for help but failed as nothing moved. In the morning two boats with capacity of four people were made available when hundreds of locals are stranded on the other side of the bank," said Mushtaq Ali, a local, whose relatives have failed to move to safer locations.
Several posh colonies in Srinagar are under water as flood water breached the banks of river Jhelum at several places.
The Valley's lone orthopaedic hospital at Barzulla is also under water. "Serious patients have been shifted to second floor. But the X-ray room is completely taken over by water," said Nazir Ahmad, whose relative is admitted there.
The patients have been shifted to upper stories.
Over the years, the state government failed to contain the mushrooming illegal constructions in Srinagar's flood basins. Most areas that face flood are Mehjoor Nagar, Padshahi Bagh, parts of Barazulla and Rambagh areas are in these basins.
Several villages of central Kashmir's Budgam are also facing flood water. Two people died there on Wednesday due to flash floods.
All schools and colleges have been closed in the Valley till Sunday. Kashmir University has postponed its examination.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah carried an aerial survey and instructed officials to bring efficiency in work. He also visited areas of Srinagar. "The chief minister is monitoring the situation round the clock," said a government spokesman.
The cabinet has approved Rs 10 crore for the affected people.