A partially submerged houseboat is seen in Jhelum river after heavy rain in Srinagar.(AFP FILE PHOTO)
A partially submerged houseboat is seen in Jhelum river after heavy rain in Srinagar.(AFP FILE PHOTO)

Jhelum levels recede but rain prediction keeps flood fears alive in Kashmir

In Srinagar’s Ram Munshi Bagh observatory, however, the water level mostly remained static at 20.9 feet on Saturday over and above the flood declaration level of 18 feet, and receded marginally to 18.9 feet by Sunday 4 pm.
By Ashiq Hussain | Hindustan Times, Srinagar, Srinagar
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2018 07:59 PM IST

Water levels of Jhelum river came down on Sunday reducing chances of a flood in Kashmir although the weatherman predicted more rains from Monday evening.

The level of Jhelum fell to 16.9 feet in south Kashmir’s Sangam observatory at 4 pm on Sunday after it had crossed flood declaration level of 21 feet on Friday evening and reached a high of 23.8 feet on Saturday.

In Srinagar’s Ram Munshi Bagh observatory, however, the water level mostly remained static at 20.9 feet on Saturday over and above the flood declaration level of 18 feet, and receded marginally to 18.9 feet by Sunday 4 pm.

“The levels are receding but we are on full alert and not standing down,” said Srinagar deputy commissioner Syed Abid Rasheed Shah.

Incessant rains since Wednesday had caused flooding in several parts of the Valley even as rising levels of the Jhelum sparked fears of a rerun of the September 2014 floods in the region.

An official at Srinagar’s MeT office told HT that there could be light rains from Monday evening for a couple of days.

“We have already established 44 relief camps in safe areas and they will continue to remain operational. There is no need to panic as a lot of water has come down but we will still be geared up,” Shah said.

He said that relief camps are being equipped and boats will continue to remain deployed at vulnerable spots.

Jammu and Kashmir governor N N Vohra made an unscheduled visit in the morning to the State Flood Control Room at Hari Niwas Srinagar and attended a meeting convened by Baseer Khan, divisional commissioner Kashmir, to review the preparedness of the administration to evacuate affected residents if the Jhelum crossed the high flood level.

“Governor is keeping a constant touch with the key functionaries and has directed that Situation Reports should be sent to him thrice a day till the present situation eases,” a spokesman of the Raj Bhawan said.

Meanwhile, the Amarnath Yatra has been resumed as pilgrims were allowed to move towards the cave shrine from both Baltal and Pahalgam base stations.

Officials attending control rooms said 10,000 pilgrims were allowed to trek from Pahalgam while another 7,032 yatris moved up from Baltal. Some 874 pilgrims also took chopper services from Baltal.

Keeping in view the safety of the pilgrims, the Yatra had been suspended on Saturday because of landslides, slippery tracks and shooting stones caused by incessant rainfall.

The pilgrimage, which was scheduled to start early on Thursday from Baltal and Pahalgam, remained suspended due to rains since Wednesday after it made the treacherous mountain tracks slippery.

The cave shrine, which is 3,893 metres above sea level, houses an ice stalagmite that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon, and devotees believe the structure symbolises Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. It was discovered by a Muslim shepherd in the 15th century.

The two-month annual pilgrimage for which 2.11 lakh people have registered so far this year comes amid a governor’s rule in the state after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended its coalition with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on June 20.

There has been heightened militant activity even before the pilgrimage started, although a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander assured pilgrims that “you don’t need any security as you are our guests”.

The state police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indian Army have put up a coordinated security arrangement in place for the pilgrimage.

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