'Unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation behind JK floods'

Unprecedented rainfall, unplanned urbanisation and lack of preparedness are the basic reasons behind the floods which have devastated Jammu and Kashmir, a Delhi-based environment research and advocacy organisation Wednesday said.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014, 18:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Unprecedented rainfall, unplanned urbanisation and lack of preparedness are the basic reasons behind the floods which have devastated Jammu and Kashmir, a Delhi-based environment research and advocacy organisation Wednesday said.

An analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the floods could very well be another manifestation of an extreme weather event induced by a changing climate.

"It is a combination of an intense and unprecedented rainfall event combined with mismanagement (of drainage) and unplanned urbanisation and lack of preparedness," Sunita Narain, CSE director general, told reporters.

CSE said, as was the case with some of the previous extreme rainfall events, the scale of disaster in Jammu and Kashmir has been exacerbated by unplanned development, especially on the riverbanks.

"In the last 100 years, more than 50 per cent of the lakes, ponds and wetlands of Srinagar have been encroached upon for constructing buildings and roads. The banks of the Jhelum river have been taken over in a similar manner, vastly reducing the river's drainage capacity. Naturally, these areas have suffered the most," the CSE said.

Elaborating on the unpreparedness of Jammu and Kashmir in dealing with such events, CSE officials said that Jammu and Kashmir does not have a flood forecasting system and "its disaster management system is also rudimentary".

"The Kashmir floods are a grim reminder that climate change is now hitting India harder. In the last 10 years, several extreme rainfall events have rocked the country and this is the latest calamity in that series," said Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general.

CSE said its researchers had compiled a list of such extreme events which includes Mumbai floods of 2005, Leh cloudburst of 2010 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013.

"India should start internalising climate change adaptation in all developmental policies and programme. From building of cities infrastructure to agriculture and from water supply to energy infrastructure, we will have to make changes to incorporate climate change impacts," said Narain.