New Delhi: As Jammu and Kashmir battles its worst flood in 100 years, leading environmental think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has said heavy and unchecked development has magnified the tragedy in the state, especially in Srinagar. (Army Vehicles Pelted With Stones in Srinagar)
"Several wetlands, lake and water bodies have been encroached upon by developers over the years, especially low-lying areas, the full effects of which are being witnessed now," Sunita Narain, the director of CSE, said today. (Kashmir Floods: Six Lakh Still Stranded, Some Phone Lines Restored in Srinagar)
The fact that Jammu and Kashmir does not have a flood forecasting system meant that the gravity of the situation was missed till it was too late. Close to 200 have died and thousands are still waiting for help after heavy rain left large parts of the state submerged. (Acting on Facebook SOS, Army Saves Pregnant Woman Stranded in Srinagar)
The Kashmir Valley has seen heavy construction over the years; more than 50 per cent of land near lakes, ponds and wetlands of Srinagar has been constructed upon in 100 years. (Ignored Warnings Magnified a Disaster Waiting To Happen)
The floods are also a wake-up call on the impact of climate change, the CSE has said.
"Extreme weather events", which include periods of intense droughts, floods or cyclones, have spiked dramatically from an average of just 2.5 events in 1900-09 to 350 in 2000-2010. (Set Up To Combat Disasters, This Agency is Almost Defunct Today)
CSE researchers have compiled a list of such disasters in India, and these include the Mumbai floods of 2005, the Leh cloudburst of 2010 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013.
"The authorities seem to be in denial about climate change being a factor that is perhaps pushing these extreme events," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director at CSE.
The IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations said in an assessment predicted intense weather events, including heavy rainfall, as a result of the accelerated effects of climate change.