Disasters are the aberrations from the normal life. Floods are widely regarded as the most devastating and recurring cause of most disasters, wreaking havoc on floodplain dwellers around the world. Floods are responsible for one-third of all hydrological hazards on the earth. River flooding is one of the most devastating disasters in the world, causing widespread loss of life, infrastructure damage, and economic devastation. Societies are currently under threat from such floods, owing primarily to increased exposure of people and assets in flood prone areas, but also to changes in flood magnitude, frequency, and timing. Floods affect billions of people around the world. Floods are expected to become more frequent and widespread as a result of population growth and climate change). The Kashmir Valley is vulnerable to all types of hazards due to its geographical, climatic, and geological configuration. According to historical records, the Kashmir Himalayan region has suffered significant casualties and property loss as a result of recurring floods, avalanches, earthquakes, and several other hydro-meteorological disasters Because of the valley’s topography, low-lying areas are prone to flooding. Jammu and Kashmir experienced heavy monsoon rains that began on September 1, 2014 and led to unprecedented widespread floods and landslides across J & K. Banks of the river Jhelum,Chenab, Tawi and many other streams were burst. The worst affected districts were Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi. Links of Kashmir Valley were disrupted and the 300- km- long national highway was closed for vehicular traffic from the 7th September as a result of landslides and floods. loods in Kashmir in 2014 wreaked havoc on agriculture, trade, infrastructure, tourism, and the handloom sector. According to the government of Jammu and Kashmir, the state suffered a loss of Rs. 1.0 trillion as a result of the floods in September 2014. Over a million people were displaced, and over 3000 settlements were inundated, resulting in a $6560 million economic loss). The 2014 flood in Kashmir had disastrous consequences on environment, society, and politics. It created death, poverty, environmental damage, and health problems in the Valley, which resulted into rise of diseases like cholera and malaria. Resilience in general stands for the ability and strength of someone or something to bounce back or respond promptly to a situation. Resilience is the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions 61 through risk management.
There is an urgent need to improve river flow, de-silt flood channels, synchronize the release of water from reservoirs, conserve wetlands and provide effective early warning. Flood management in the region also has cross-boundary dimensions which need to be addressed.
Nevertheless, resilience is a complex proposition and its assessment requires detailed study of several components of a community and system; such as, economic status, growth pattern, physical, economic and social vulnerabilities, technological capacity, performance of environmental and natural resource management institutions, infrastructure, livelihood , assets, level of innovation, skills, education levels, political structure and processes, etc. . All of these components combined together can result in effective measurement and assessment of the level of resilience present in a region/community/nation. It is always needed to reduce the impact of future disasters. Somewhat, similar attempts were observed in Kashmir after the deluge of 2014, wherein several resilience building steps were taken and plans were executed .In the wake of 2014 floods in Kashmir, several post-disaster activities, projects and actions were initiated to build resilience at the State/UT level, with the involvement of many departments/organizations. The improvement in early warning systems for floods is an urgent priority. Three basic systems for measuring rainfall and water discharge are required, which can be used for real time flood forecasting.
• First, we need to set up a network of telemetric rain gauges, generally linked to a central network by means of Internet or satellite communication. This provides real-time information on actual rainfall across a wide area.
• Second, we need a precipitation measurement system through a network of weather radars that is increasingly being used across the world to provide a more precise description of the precipitation field.
• Third, measurement system based on an analysis of clouds, the images of which are provided by geo-stationary satellites should be there on a continual basis.
These components of early warning systems provide measurements independently of each other, but together they create a strong system to improve the timeliness and precision of the flood forecasting system.
In view of the climate trends and recurrent disasters, it is extremely important to address the underlying risks of floods .There is an urgent need to improve river flow, de-silt flood channels, synchronize the release of water from reservoirs, conserve wetlands and provide effective early warning. Flood management in the region also has cross-boundary dimensions which need to be addressed.
(The author is a teacher at J&K School Education Department. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)