Akeel Rashid

Back to Basics: The Srinagar city’s waterlogging problem

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Following the heavy rainfall on Thursday, the city centre Lal Chowk and other areas of Srinagar ended up as a stagnant pool of water. As soon as the photos and visuals of the waterlogged roads surfaced on the social media, the netizens and journalists, as usual, went on a criticism spree. All of this criticism was directed at the official apathy; while as the acts of inexcusable public negligence including the dumping of plastic and other wastage within drains, which in the first place resulted in their blockade, find no mention.

The massive waterlogging not just exposed the poor drainage system of Srinagar city but it also revealed the lack of civic sense among the people, testified by the heaps of polythene and plastic waste found inside the drains. The Srinagar administration’s twitter handle had posted a picture bringing forth what caused, in part, the blockage of drains. “The invisible reason behind those waterlogged choked drains. The city must say NO to banned plastic. Cleared more than 80 such locations,” it wrote.

There is no denying the fact that the successive governments have failed to construct a proper drainage system in Srinagar which would cope well with the heavy rains. The people also share the part of the blame for not being able to take care of the drainage system which belongs to them and it is them who have to decide as to how it will behave during a heavy rainfall.

The politicians who have ruled the state for decades also denounced the administration for its ill-preparedness with regard to their coping with heavy rainfall. I do not expect them to be so naïve that they cannot tell the difference between ill-preparedness and ill-mechanism. They have no right to criticize the administration; however, they have the responsibility to talk about their own efforts with regard to providing better drainage system to the city.

It is with both public and politicians that the problem of waterlogging in Srinagar is always attributed to ill-preparedness of administration, while as it should all boil down to ill-mechanism that is to say presence of inadequate drainage system. While researching for this article, I came across a news report published by a local gathering agency in the year 2018. The report quoting an official of Housing and Urban Development Department said that the Srinagar and Jammu city together constitute just 40 per cent of the drainage system. On top of that, the devastating September 2014 floods left the drainage system battered in Srinagar but since then no efforts have been made to improvise it.

Since we have been caught struggling to convince each other with regard to waterloggging issue in Srinagar, let’s go back to basics and find a common ground. If you are reading this, it becomes apparent that you have been taught Civics during your school-time. The subject apprised us about our rights and duties as citizens. While the people have every right to demand for their rights which in this case are improvised drainage system but they should not forget their duty of uplifting their civic senses. Similarly, the administration has also a right to make the people aware of their duties; however it should also check if the rights of people, which rest with the administration, are being met.

The author tweets @akeel_rashid_ and can be reached at [email protected]

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