Author Archives: shahishaharyar

About shahishaharyar

Chartered civil engineer,Fellow institution of engineers India, Member Indian road congress,Member American society of civil engineers, Presented over 40 papers in various seminars,published books on environment,history,genealogy.

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

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Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

BY ASHRAF FAZILI

In comparison to the instant response to the world disasters, the victims of the recent floods in Kashmir Valley feel that their State has been lacking in timely rescuing of the sufferers, besides sluggish arrangement of dewatering, their rehabilitation, provisions, shelter, clothing (roti, kapda, makan). The general public opinion is that the local youth swung into action instantly till army and other rescue teams mobilized their resources.

For rehabilitation, despite tall claims, the state government seems to have been let down by New Delhi in release of timely, necessary funds required for the immediate relief measures of the flood victims. Every passing day is precious in view of the approaching harsh winter and it appears that people whose lives got spared from the wrath of floods may die now due to lack of proper warm shelters, warm clothing and other facilities. In the beginning there were tall claims of release of assistance in thousands of crores of rupees as relief to flood victims. The month of September has passed in waiting and now October is also nearing its end, but the promised USA’s seventh fleet of Bangladesh did not come (till the formulation of a new country became a reality).

Today the business hub, LalChowk presents a devastated look with dust in the atmosphere and people buying the salvaged material from the footpath vendors, while the shops are getting renovated. Most of the houses that submerged are getting cleared of the silt and the filth that entered with the flood waters. Some of the damaged houses are being dismantled in some areas. There is an apprehension that new structures may come up with utter disregard to building bye-laws. SMC must exercise its check with the powers vested in it. Most of the recovered vehicles are lying near the workshops waiting for their turn as it takes number of days for restoration of each vehicle. In this connection the open ground in front of Burn Hall School is fully occupied by the damaged vehicles besides the open spaces near the road side workshops all over the city. Traffic jams seem to have increased despite stalling of a sizeable number of vehicles due to floods. The recovery of city to its original position may take a long time to come.

From the natural disaster trends since 1945, scientists have observed that, there was an increase in the number of small and large natural disaster events during last half a century. Most of the natural disasters were meteorological in origin, river flooding, coastal inundation from hurricanes and typhoons, accounting them of a third of all disasters during this period of time. Earthquakes, although far fewer in number are more fatal. As more than half deaths attributed to natural disasters resulted from earthquakes.

In J&K State Community disaster training took place, wherein Divisional Disaster Management Cell, in collaboration with Civil Defense Organization J&K State, Red Cross Society, Fire & Emergency Services and disaster administration participated in August 2013. Forty youth mostly from Dal area and other areas of Srinagar city attended the training program, whose services were proposed to be used as Civil Defense Volunteers. Later similar programs were reportedly held district wise to register maximum number of youth for any future eventuality. It was only after losing 1150 lives in six years of various natural disasters, besides 953 persons in Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and 192 persons in 2010 flash floods in Leh, that J&K State formulated Disaster Management Policy falling in line with other states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Manipur, who have put in place comprehensive plans to mitigate natural disasters.

However in the recent floods, local youth showed their valour and risked their lives to save people in distress. They made their own innovations by carrying the old sick people on inflated tyres of trucks placing cushions below carom boards. The authorities took time to mobilize their resources to save the remaining lot of people.

From the studies of the decade of environmental disasters of 1990’s, widespread environmental degradation at global level floods, hurricanes, famines, windstorms, and other extreme events are becoming more frequent. Some important records of past historical tsunamis are:

1st November 1775- Earthquake caused tsunami destroyed Lisbon killing over 6000 people.
27th August 1883- Volcanic eruption tsunami from the Karakota volcano drowned 36,000 people.
15th June 1986- Tsunami in Japan killed over 27,000 people.
December 26th 2004- Tsunami has beaten all records being the deadliest one till date, killing more than one lakh people and rendering several lakhs homeless. The strange observation made on the most-hit island of Indonesia was that animals had migrated from the affected areas and the aquatic life was not much damaged in Indian Ocean.
After the Muzaffarabad earthquake in 2005, the US geologists RB Bilan and K.Wallace confirmed in a conference in India that the Kangra regions like other parts of the Himalayas are vulnerable to a future large earthquake of magnitude 8. Scientists warned that since the population in Gangetic basin in India and Pakistan is larger than at any time in the history, any future massive eartquake in Himalayas could have a much greater impact on population than the tsunami of 2004. Structural seismologists have warned that the Western Himalayas may be on a stress state similar to that of Andaman plate boundary prior to 2004. The view was however refuted according to their research and evidence by H. Gupta and Negi- former directors.
In May 1964 Yokahama Strategy emphasized that disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness is better than disaster response in achieving the goals and objectives of vulnerability reduction. Disaster response alone is not sufficient as it yields only temporary results at a very high cost. Prevention and mitigation contribute to lasting improvement in safety and are essential in integrated disaster management.

The GOI has issued guidelines that where there is a shelf of projects, projects addressing mitigation will be given a priority. It has also been mandated that each project in a hazard prone area will have disaster prevention / mitigation as a term of reference and the project document has to reflect as to how the project addresses that term of reference. According to these guidelines, Jhelum Project must receive top priority in its approval from GOI.

It is reported that the measures for flood mitigation were taken from 1950 onwards. As against the total 40 million hectares prone to floods, areas of about 15 million hectares have been protected by construction of embankments. A number of dams and barrages have been constructed. The State Governments have been assisted to take up mitigation programs like construction of raised platforms etc. Floods continue to be a menace however mainly because of the huge quantity of silt being carried by the rivers emanating from Himalayas. The silt has raised the bed level of many rivers to above the level of country side.

Embankments have also given rise to problems of drainage with heavy rainfall leading to waterlogging in areas outside the embankments as witnessed recently in Rajbagh, Jawaharnagar, Majoornagar, Bemina etc. To evolve both short term and long term strategy for flood management / erosion control, Government of India has recently constituted a Central Task Force under the chairmanship of Chairman CWC. The task force will examine the causes of the problem of recurring floods and erosion in States and regions prone to flood and erosion and suggest short term and long term measures. The task Force was to submit its report in December 2004. Due to erratic behavior on monsoons, both low and medium rainfall regions, which constitute about 68 percent of the total area, are vulnerable to periodical draughts. Our experience has been that almost every third year is a draught year.

Flood preparedness and response: In order to respond effectively to floods, Ministry of Home Affairs have initiated National Disaster Risk Management Program in all the flood prone States. Assistance is being provided to the States to draw up disaster management plans at the State, District, Block and Village levels. Awareness generation campaigns to sensitize all the stakeholders on the need of flood preparedness and mitigation measures. Elected representatives and officials are being trained in flood disaster management under the program. Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh are among the 17 mulyi-hazard prone States where this program is being implemented with UNDP, USAID and European Commission.

The other issues to be cared for are: Earthquake risk mitigation, National core group for ERM, Review of building bye-laws and their adoption, Development of revision of codes, Hazard safety cells in States, National program for capacity building of engineers and architects in earthquake risk mitigation, Training of rural masons, Earthquake engineering in undergraduate in engineering and architecture curricula, Hospital preparedness and emergency health management in medical education, Retrofitting of life line buildings, National earthquake risk mitigation project, mainstreaming mitigation in rural development schemes, National cyclone mitigation project, Landslide hazard mitigation, Disaster risk management program, Awareness generation, Disaster awareness in school curriculum, Information, education and communication, Special focus to Northern and North eastern states.

The various prevention and mitigation measures outlined above are aimed at building up the capabilities of the communities, voluntary organizations and government functionaries at all levels. This is a major task being undertaken by the government to put in place the mitigation measures for vulnerability reduction. This is just a beginning, the ultimate goal is to make prevention and mitigation a part of day-to-day life.

–The author is a retired Chief Engineer and can be reached at shahishaharyar2@gmail.com

2014-CENTURIES WORST FLOOD IN KASHMIR

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Floods can be prevented if the bed level of Jhelum is brought below the street level’

About author:
Born in Srinagar in December 1942, Muhammad Ashraf Fazili studied in Jammu & Kashmir University till 1959 and graduated with Honors Grade in Civil Engineering from Annamalai University South India in 1963. He has served in J&K State PWD in various capacities. He retired as Chief Engineer in 2000 but was reappointed and continued his services till 2003. Er. Fazili has worked on several projects during his tenure, including Rambagh bridge project, Dooru bridge project, design of RCC bridges and culverts, 132 KVA HVT line project from Jammu to Srinagar etc. He has also been involved in building several construction projects as Project Director, Inland Water Transport Project on river Jhelum with M/s Rites, and on development works of Srinagar Development Authority and Chrar-i-Sharif Development project.

During his 40-year long service tenure stretching from 1964 to 2003, Er. Fazili has closely monitored and dealt with flood situations. Presently consultant, Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Institution of Engineers India and Member of Indian Road Congress and American Society of Civil Engineers, the ex-chief engineer has presented over 50 papers in various seminars and authored several books on environment, the latest being “The Environment of Jammu & Kashmir” published in 2013 by M/S Gulshan Books, Srinagar.

In an interview with GK Features Editor Majid Maqbool, Er. Muhammad Ashraf Fazili talks in detail about various factors responsible for the recent devastating floods, including unplanned growth, the government response before and after the floods, and how extensive and often unplanned use of flood plains led to massive damages.

The recent floods have devastated the entire valley. What is your reading of what led to the floods and what can be done to minimize the damages from such floods in future?

Rarely Septembers have witnessed such a heavy downpour. It appears that the much talked about global climate change has played a major part in this unusual/unprecedented behavior of weather. Met Dept. reported a record rainfall of 400 mm, 225 mm on a single day combined with cloudbursts in the upper catchments of South Kashmir raising the flood level at Sangam to 16 ft. higher than the danger mark of 21ft., beating all previous records. Consequently the gauge at Rammunshi Bagh touched 11 ft. higher than the danger mark of 18 ft. This caused overflow of the flood water on the river banks and subsequent breaches. Since Rajbagh is located below water level of abutting river Jhelum and flood spill channel, it is natural for water to rise from the domestic soakage pits even in normal days in order to maintain its level.

However, it is but natural for water to overflow its banks in the event of rainfall in its upper catchment and spill into flood plains which are basically its right of way. Extensive and often unplanned use of flood plains, disregarding the basic fact that it is a part and parcel of the river, leads to flood damage. Thus the uncontrolled and indiscriminate development of flood plains due to pressure of population can be considered as one of the main factors responsible for the ever increasing flood damage in spite of the substantial INVESTMENT in the flood-sector during the last six decades.

Conversion of Bemina wetland to housing colony by resorting to 7 ft. filling was strongly resented by the then Chief Engineer I&FC, but his opinion was overruled by the then CTP and others. The cross section of river Jhelum has got reduced by recent beautification which was debated by the Institution of Engineers India J&K State Centre.

Flood spill channel and Jhelum embankments have been encroached upon by the public as well as the Government. There has been a delay in breaching the bund at Kandizal to relieve the intensity of flow of flood waters. The dredging of the river and spill channel to increase their carrying capacity can be a less costly solution.

You have said in one of your pieces in these pages that you have witnessed many floods during your forty year service tenure till 2003, ‘but it was never so worst as that of 1959… we were told that a major flood visits the valley after almost every 50 years.’ The present government was found lacking in terms of their disaster preparedness and delay in reaching out to the affected people in time. How were such floods dealt by the governments in the past and what are the lessons for the present policy makers and town planners now that the floods have left behind a trail of destruction all across the valley?

Based on the past experience, people would state that a major flood is expected after every half a century. Lawrence has recorded in his “Valley of Kashmir” the worst flood of 1903. Next worst flood was witnessed in 1959 i.e after 56 years. So after 55 years, the clouds of the major flood were looming large in the air according to this theory. Much was being talked, about disaster management and its preparedness after the last earthquake in Uri and Kupwara sectors and some people were reported to have been trained at district levels too, but none was seen on the trouble spots except the local youth who have shown an exemplary bravery to save the people in distress. Though Ministry of Home Affairs had initiated NDRM programme in all the flood prone states, providing assistance to draw disaster management plans at the State, District, Block and village levels, yet it yielded no results. Further the loss of total communication added to the misery of people.

About flood duty preparedness, a flood control committee comprising of the concerned heads of departments would be nominated every year. Besides flood duty charts would be circulated every year beforehand which would assign engineers of all departments and their other staff on their respective beats. Every year there would be a day fixed for flood rehearsal, when river banks would be examined and necessary strengthening of the weak spots recommended besides arrangement of trucks, storage of empty bags, boats etc. ensured. Also the location of flood beats would be conveyed to the staff according to the flood duty chart. On declaration of floods, responsible officers would man the control room, monitoring the latest situation including on-spot inspections round the clock and passing the directions regarding deployment of labour, dispatch of empty bags, rescue boats, trucks etc. The activities were monitored at the highest level and the CM was kept informed about the latest situation. Important decisions to save the population would be taken at highest level. Messages would be conveyed on phones, wireless followed by written messages/orders for record and reference. The flood duty was not called off until the floods would recede completely and the affected people rescued and provided with the necessary relief.

Even the agriculture lands are getting increasingly urbanized and construction allowed in these fertile lands despite the government ban. The flood channels have also come to be occupied and constructions made in and around them. How can the housing needs of people be fulfilled and at the same time ensuring that people are relocated away from the flood prone areas?

The ideal solution would have been to plan a new city on higher contours along foot-hills from Ganderbal to Harwan, Pandrethan, Khunmoh to Rajpora and on Karewas along south side ensuring safety from river floods, proper drainage, sunlight and fresh mountain breeze but again that may prove to be a herculean task.
Given the hunger for land the possibility of vertical expansion as already advocated for the city should be considered seriously to tackle the future housing needs in view of multiplying population, besides relocating the families of flood hit/prone areas. The basement floors could be left for parking of vehicles.

Do you think Srinagar city could have been saved to a large extent and critical public and private sector infrastructure protected from the flood waters?

People are of the opinion that the bank at Kandizal was not breached in time to divert part of flood waters as per the past practice. Besides, the weak bunds of the river were not strengthened well in advance in spite of threat of major floods. A road has come up over pipes right on the bed of flood spill channel that has caused an obstruction to the flood waters. In the past Dal Lake would also serve as a receptor of some waters when its level was maintained at a lower level than the present one. People are also doubtful if the gates at Nalla Amir Khan, Chattabal weir, Dood ganga diversion were opened in time.

Now that the flood waters have receded, the displaced people are again going to rebuild their damaged houses. What are the things these people should keep in mind while rebuilding their homes? Should the government authorities also step in to provide innovative engineering solutions to prevent more such damage to houses in future floods?

Now that the centuries’ worst flood has receded, people shall be rebuilding their damaged houses in their respective sites. Some important points need to be considered to prevent recurrence of such an eventuality in future:
People in present distress cannot wait for the long term measures of flood protection and they will soon resort to the reconstruction of their collapsed/damaged houses. In view of approaching winter, houses of prefabricated members could be erected urgently at suitable locations till their permanent structures come up in the next summer season.
The Govt./SMC must come up with the new building norms that are required in the flood prone areas to ensure the safety of lives of the inhabitants. Basement floors could be raised on RCC columns with ceiling level higher than the HFL, leaving the space for car parking etc. In fact such norms already provided for shopping complexes have been violated causing parking problems in the city. SMC must implement these norms strictly.
Safe foundations need to be designed as per BIS specifications with the approval/check of SMC. In fact I found a ten-storey structure was stalled by Muncipal Authorities at plinth level in Abu Dhabi, the reason being provision of lesser steel than the approved/designed one.
The partially damaged structures of the flooded area need to be inspected by an expert team to suggest measures for their retrofitting. Dewatering stations need to be lifted higher than the HFL of 100 year flood for making these functional during crisis.
The plinths of all Govt. buildings/hospitals/establishments in the flood prone areas need to be raised higher than the HFL. The basement floors could be used for car parking etc.
Flood plain zoning is useful in reducing the damage caused by drainage congestion particularly in urban area where on grounds of economy and other considerations urban drainage may not be designed for the worst possible conditions and presupposes some damage during storms whose magnitude exceeds that for which the drainage system is designed.
The steps involved in implementation of flood plain zoning measures could be:
Demarcation of areas liable to floods. Preparation of detailed contour plans of such areas to a large scale (preferably 1:5000) showing contours at interval of 0’3 to 0.5 meters.
Fixation of reference river gauges and determination of areas likely to be inundated for different water levels and magnitudes of floods. Demarcation of areas liable to flooding by floods of different frequencies should be done, like once in two years, five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred years and similarly areas likely to be affected on account of accumulated rainfall, like in 5, 10, 25, and 50 years.

What kind of steps should the government have taken before and after the floods to minimize damage to vital installations, hospitals, and help save most of the public and private sector infrastructure hit by the floods?

In the existing developed areas possibilities of protecting, relocation and exchanging the sites of vital installations like electricity substations/powerhouses, telephone exchanges etc. should be seriously examined so that these are always safe from possible flood damage. Similarly the pump stations of tube wells for drinking water supply should be raised above the HFL corresponding to a 100 year flood.
Similarly possibility of removing buildings/structures obstructing existing natural drainage should be seriously considered. In any case unplanned growth shall be restricted so that no constructions obstructing natural drainage resulting in increased flood is allowed. In future the following regulations may be stipulated:
Plinth levels of all buildings should be nearly 0.75 to one meter above the drainage/submersion levels.
In the areas liable to floods, for all the buildings a stairway should be provided to the roofs/attic floors so that temporary shelter can be taken there. The roof levels of the single storey buildings and the first floor level in double storey buildings should be above flood level of 1 to 100 frequency so that the human lives and the movable property can take temporary shelter there when necessary during the floods.
In the past Central Water Commission (CWC) prepared guidelines in 1873-74 for flood plain zoning which were approved by Central Flood Control Board. CWC also prepared a model draft and circulated it in the Ministry of Irrigation in 1975, to all the states for enacting legislature. However the response from states, except Manipur, has not been encouraging. Manipur enacted a legislation in 1978 which came into force in 1985.
Flood proofing measures help greatly in the mitigation of distress and provide immediate relief to the population in flood prone areas. It is essentially a combination of structural change and emergency action, not involving any evacuation. The technique adopted consists of providing raised platforms for flood shelter for men and cattle and raising the public utility installation above flood levels.
In case of urban areas, certain measures that can be put into action as soon as a flood warning is received involve: Installation of removable covers such as steel or aluminium bulk heads over doors and windows or other openings keeping stone counters on wheels, closing of sewer well, anchoring machinery, covering machinery with plastic sheet, seepage control etc. Flood proofing also tends to encourage persistent human occupation of flood plains.

As the ex-chief engineer, how do you see the response of the concerned engineers and in particular the Flood Control Department in dealing with the flood situation? What was lacking in their response to deal with such floods and what more could have been done to minimize the damage?

The abrupt and unexpected flash flood has caught us all unawares. Once the flood alarm was sounded, all concerned were alerted and took their respective positions but it was an eleven ft. high wall of water above danger mark that swept away the flood control room itself and disruption of the communication added to the misery. It has given sleepless nights to one and all. However a quick response would have been relocation of the control room at a higher/safer place and provision of an alternative wireless communication system which seems to have been abandoned now. The damage could have been minimized by timely breaching of Kandizal bund that would have reduced the intensity of flood flow. Besides sounding of alarm on Radio, TV, loudspeakers in mosques could have been helpful. The concerned department must have sufficient boats, even motor boats, reserved for such an eventuality. The mechanized water transport would have been of great help had it been executed as per the project.

Central Water Commission (CWC) has initiated a study at the request of the state government to find out the reasons for the massive floods and means of its prevention. Do you think it is feasible to channel the Jhelum so that it bypasses Srinagar at the time of floods?

There is no guarantee that floods of even worse magnitude may not visit the valley again. The global climate change is one of the major factors.
Government seems to be contemplating to provide a parallel spill channel on the upstream side of the existing one, but that may involve a huge investment besides being a long drawn affair of time consuming land compensation etc. Besides this, the channel may also get defunct with the passage of time like the present one for want of its maintenance. My viewpoint has been seconded in this piece by Er. Joseph Thomas of Bangalore http://amolak.in/web/flood-prevention-in-the-vale-of-kashmir-by-joseph-thomas/#comments. He has commented: “I am surprised to see newspaper reports that the state government wants to divert the Jhelum river around Srinagar. It is feasible but at prohibitive cost. Firstly, a lot of land is required. Secondly, a large number of bridges will have to be built across the new river channel. Thirdly, when the new river channel gets silted up, embankments will be built on either side. Eventually, the river will again flow above street level. We will be back to square one.”
It is far better to dredge and de-silt the existing river and flood channel. No additional land is required and new bridges will not have to be built. When the Jhelum river bed level is brought below street level, floods will not occur.

Was neglect in desilting major rivers like Jehlum and Chinab a contributing factor for the recent floods, apart from continuous rainfall for over a week?

The J&K floods are as much a result of unprecedented rainfall over a week and also of neglect in desilting major rivers like Jhelum and Chenab, and their tributaries. The need to dredge the rivers increased because of growing soil erosion driven by deforestation, wild fires and encroachment in river catchments.

Between August 27 and September 3, 12 of the 22 districts received excessive
rain, the IMD data shows. Ten of these, two in Jammu and eight in Kashmir, got more than double the normal rain. Srinagar was pounded by 373% more rain than normal for this time. Ganderbal got nine times more rain, Pulwama about 7 times and Anantnag five times more rainfall.

The torrential rain brought back memories of the Uttarakhand tragedy where 440% excess rainfall in June 2013 caused havoc. Over 5,700 died in the floods, most of them tourists. Like in Uttarakhand, other factors too are at work in J&K. One key reason for Jhelum’s relentless rise is negligible desilting. An estimated 36 lakh cubic metres of silt has accumulated in the riverbed. Only recently, in 2012, two dredging machines were imported from the US to remove silt washed down by the river from the mountains. The last dredging was done in 1986. In 25 years, the meandering Jhelum got silted leaving little space in it to take excess water.

In 2009, the state’s irrigation and flood-control department proposed a Rs 2,200 crore desilting project to the Centre. It included dredging of Jhelum’s channels and anti-erosion work. Only Rs 97-crore portion of this for immediate action was approved. It included machines to dredge Jhelum, particularly of its floodspill channels in Srinagar and outflow streams at Baramulla. Work began late 2012. Experts say the river’s carrying capacity is down from 45,000 cusecs (1975) to 32,000 cusecs (2012).One cusec is the flow of one cubic feet water in one second at any given point.

Illegal felling and forest fires contributed to soil erosion in catchments of Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi. Mountain streams washed down the loose soil that ended up in the river. Encroachments contribute to loss of soil cover. According to the recent statement made by the forest minister in the assembly in J&K, 14,345 ha of forestland is encroached upon – 9,463ha in Jammu and 4,878 ha in Kashmir.

What happened to the Srinagar city Master Plan 2000-2021 which was supposed to be implemented over the years?

Problem of river discharge on river Jhelum had to be solved as it has assumed serious dimensions. Over the past fifty years, river Jhelum and spill channel has heavily silted up. It was understood that the flood control problem was being entrusted by I&FC Dept. to some consultancy firm; hence the problem of siltation, dredging, gradient, velocity etc. shall be dealt with. Some suggestions included to redesign flood absorption basin from Kandizal to Padshahibagh saving the railway line and Mahjoor nagar area. Beds of river Jhelum and spill channel were proposed to be deepened to increase the discharge capacity and ensure the minimum draft required for mechanized water transport. Gradient of spill channel was supposed to be increased up to the permissible limits. Weir at Chattabal had to be redesigned. Navigational channel of the lock gate at weir site was planned be desilted to make it functional. However the Srinagar city Master Plan 2000-2021 has also got entangled in the cobweb of red-tape like other similar vital issues, which ultimately land us into a chaotic situation like the recent floods.

Srinagar Master Plan 2000-2021 recommendations for river Jhelum:

All Doongas and houseboats be shifted upstream of Padshahibagh or downstream of Chattabal. The tourist oriented houseboats could be shifted to Dal or Nigeen area.

Encroachments made on the banks of the river and all three Khuls- Kuta Khul, Soner Khul and Watel Khul be cleared en-masse.
Development of river fronts will involve clearance of some sites for development of parks.

To stop the garbage-dumping from Lal-Ded Hospital; incineration plant be installed there.

Wherever possible, Agriculture department should level the disused brick kiln sites on either side of Cement Bridge and use the same for growing vegetables.

Shikara ghats be constructed at appropriate points, connected with pucca stairs to nearby roads.

While according permission for building construction on river and nallah fronts, no part of the building should protrude towards the river and nallah boundaries, or over their embankments.

Reconstruction of The Valley

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Reconstruction of the flood-prone devastated city areas

Now that the centuries’ worst flood has receded, people shall be rebuilding their damaged houses in their respective sites. Some important points need to be considered to prevent recurrence of such an eventuality in future.

  • There is no guarantee that floods of even worse magnitude may not visit the valley again. The global climate change is one of the major factors.
  • Government seems to be contemplating to provide a parallel spill channel on the upstream side of the existing one, but that may be a long drawn affair as it shall involve land compensation etc. Besides this channel may also get defunct with the passage of time like the present one for want of its maintenance.
  • The other ideal solution would have been to plan a new city on higher contours along foot-hills from Ganderbal to Harwan, Pandrethan, Khunmoh to Rajpora and on Karewas along southern foot-hills ensuring safety from river floods, proper drainage and fresh mountain breeze but again that may be a herculean task.
  • People in present distress cannot wait for the long term measures of flood protection and they will soon resort to the reconstruction of their collapsed/damaged houses.
  • /SMC must come up with the new building norms that are required in the flood prone areas to ensure the safety of lives of the inhabitants.
  • Basement floors could be raised on RCC columns with ceiling level higher than the HFL, leaving the space for car parking etc. In fact such norms already provided for shopping complexes have been violated causing parking problems in the city. SMC must implement these norms strictly.
  • Safe foundations need to be designed as per BIS specifications with the approval /check of SMC. In fact I found a ten story structure was stalled by Muncipal Authorities at plinth level in Abu Dhabi, the reason being provision of lesser steel than the approved/designed one.
  • Due to land hunger possibility of vertical expansion as already advocated by me, of the city be considered seriously to tackle the future housing needs in view of multiplying population besides relocating the families of flood hit/prone areas.
  • The partially damaged structures of the flooded area need to be inspected by an expert team to suggest measures for their retrofitting.
  • Dewatering stations need to be lifted higher than the HFL of 100 year flood for making these functional during crisis.
  • The plinths of all Govt. buildings/establishments in the flood prone areas need to be raised higher than the HFL. The basement floors could be used for car parking etc.
  • Flood plain zoning is useful in reducing the damage caused by drainage congestion particularly in urban area where on grounds of economy and other considerations urban drainage may not be designed for the worst possible conditions and presupposes some damage during storms whose magnitude exceeds that for which the drainage system is designed.
  • The steps involved in implementation of flood plain zoning measures could be as:
  1. Demarcation of areas liable to floods.
  2. Preparation of detailed contour plans of such areas to a large scale (preferably 1:5000) showing contours at interval of 0’3 to 0.5 meters.
  3. Fixation of reference river gauges and determination of areas likely to be inundated for different water levels and magnitudes of floods.
  4. Demarcation of areas liable to flooding by floods of different frequencies like once in two years, five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred years. Similarly areas likely to be affected on account of accumulated rainfall like 5, 10, 25, and 50 years.
  5. Delineation of the types of which the flood plains can be put to in the light of © and (d) above with indication of safeguards to be ensured.

In the existing developed areas possibilities of protecting /relocation/exchanging the sites of vital installations like electricity substations/powerhouses, telephone exchanges etc. should be seriously examined so that these are always safe from possible flood damage. Similarly the pump stations of tube wells for drinking water supply should be raised above the HFL corresponding a 100 year flood.

Similarly possibility of removing buildings/structures obstructing existing natural drainage should be seriously considered. In any case unplanned growth shall be restricted so that no constructions obstructing natural drainage resulting in increased flood is allowed. In future the following regulations may be stipulated:

  1. Plinth levels of all buildings should be nearly 0.75 to one meter above the drainage/submersion levels.
  2. In the areas liable to floods all the buildings a stairway should invariably be provided to the roofs/attic floors so that temporary shelter can be taken there. The roof levels of the single story buildings and the first floor level in double story buildings should be above flood level of 1 to 100 frequency so that the human lives and the movable property can take temporary shelter there when necessary during the floods.

In the past CWC prepared guidelines in 1873-74 for flood plain zoning which were approved by Central Flood Control Board. CWC also prepared a model draft and circulated it in the Ministry of Irrigation in 1975, to all the states for enacting legislature. However the response from states except Manipur has not been encouraging. Manipur enacted a legislation in 1978 which came into force in 1985.

Flood proofing measures, help greatly in the mitigation of distress and provide immediate relief to the population in flood prone areas. It is essentially a combination of structural change and emergency action, not involving any evacuation. The technique adopted consists of providing raised platforms for flood shelter for men and cattle and raising the public utility installation above flood levels.

In case of urban areas, certain measures that can be put into action as soon as a flood warning in received involve:

Installation of removable covers such as steel or aluminium bulk heads over doors and windows or other openings keeping stone counters on wheels, closing of sewer well, anchoring machinery, covering machinery with plastic sheet, seepage control etc.

Flood proofing also tends to encourage persistent human occupation of flood plains.

Out of the non-structural measures “flood forecasting and warning” is considered as one of the most important, reliable and cost effective methods. CWC organizes flood forecasting at 157 stations in the country, of which 132 are for water stage forecast and 25 for inflow forecast for certain major reservoirs. The Flood Meteorological Offices (FMO) also provide information regarding general meteorological situation, rainfall of last 24 hours for different regions and range of quantitative precipitation forecasts for various river basins to the respective flood forecasting centers of CWC. All the data is simultaneously transmitted to the circle headquarters supervising forecasting works for overall security, monitoring, analysis and compilation. The final forecasts are then transmitted to the administrative and engineering authorities of the state and other user agencies connected with flood protection and management work on telephone or by special messenger/ telegraph/ workers depending upon local factors like vulnerability of the area and availability of the communication facility etc.

The Master Plan 2000-2021 recommendations for river Jhelum were:

  • All Doongas and houseboats be shifted upstream of Padshahibagh or downstream of Chattabal. The tourist oriented houseboats could be shifted to Dal or Nigeen area.
  • Encroachments made on the banks of the river and all three Khuls- Kuta Khul, Soner Khul and Watel Khul be cleared en-masse.
  • Development of river fronts will involve clearance of some sites for development of parks.
  • To stop garbage dumping from Lal-Ded Hospital, incineration plant be installed there.
  • Wherever possible Agriculture department should level the disused brick kiln sites on either side of cement bridge and use the same for growing vegetables.
  • Shikara ghats be constructed at appropriate points, connected with pucca stairs to nearby roads.
  • While according permission for building construction on river and nallah fronts, no part of the building is protruded towards the river and nallah boundaries or over their embankments.
  • Problem of river discharge on river Jhelum be solved as it has assumed serious dimensions. Over the past fifty years, river Jhelum and spill channel has heavily silted up. It was understood that the flood control problem was being entrusted by I&FC Deptt. to some consultancy firm, hence the problem of siltation, dredging, gradient, velocity etc. shall be dealt with. Some suggestions included to redesign flood absorption basin from Kandizal to Padshahibagh saving the railway line and Mahjoor nagar area. Beds of river Jhelum and spill channel be deepened to increase the discharge capacity and ensure the minimum draft required for mechanized water transport. Gradient of spill channel be increased up to the permissible limits. Weir at Chattabal be redesigned. Navigational channel of the lock gate at weir site be desilted to make it functional.

However the Master Plan 2000-2021 has also got entangled in the cobweb of red-tape like other similar vital issues which ultimately land us into  a chaotic situation like the recent one.

Contribution of World-Class Engineers

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46th Engineers day – September 15, 2014

 

World-Class Engineers are:

Solidly grounded in fundamentals of their discipline and are committed to lifelong learning.

Technically Broad :  Conversant in multiple technical disciplines. They design solutions that span business functions such as finance, marketing, legal, and manufacturing.

Globally Engaged : Understand the worldwide nature of their profession and are sensitive to the speed required to keep pace in geographically and culturally diverse environments.

Ethical: Uphold the highest ethical standards. They readily identify, and carefully address, ethical issues that arise in their professional lives.

Innovative: Develop precise definitions of complex problems and formulate sustainable solutions by thinking creatively across technical, business, social, and environmental dimensions.

Excellent Collaborators: Seek optimal outcomes through collaboration and honor intellectual property rights of all partners. They work effectively within co-located and geographically dispersed teams.

Visionary Leaders Are courageous, customer-oriented leaders who develop visions that deliver successful results.

 

It is a fact that from the earliest times, the engineers, who remained the harbinger of development of any region, always strived for enrichment of their knowledge and skill to upgrade the quality of life and their performance. The pursuit for betterment is a continuous process. There is no end to development and engineering progress. The process of up gradation from one standard to the other, from one age to other, from ‘under-developed’ to ‘developing’, or from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’, is a continuous process, which is led by the engineers after taking into account the prevailing socio- politico-economic conditions of the particular country.

 

From the archival discoveries it is revealed that it has taken thousands of years for man to reach the present state.

 

The Prehistoric World: 100,000-40,000 years ago.

The first modern humans emerged in Africa 100,000 years ago. Over the next 50,000 years they colonized much of Asia and Australasia before expanding into Europe. New skills were acquired at different rates in different regions but the landmarks of development followed a similar pattern from simple stone blades to sophisticated iron jewellery. The different ages witnessed various stages of development such as:

 

Stone Age: Upper Plaeolithic – 40,000-10,000 years ago.

Early humans were already expert flint workers by the upper Plaeolithic period and weapons have been found at sites in Europe and the Near East. Typical features included:

  • Stone spear heads, arrow heads and blades;
  • Bone and ivory tools and weapons, (fish hooks, needles and spear throwers);
  • Jewellery and clothing made of skins sewn using bone needles;
  • The ceremonial burial of the dead;
  • Cave art and statues.

 

Neolithic- from 12000 years ago.

The later Stone Age saw the development of farming which replaced hunter gathering as the primary mode of existence. By the end of the Neolithic, humans had learned to cultivate many crops: wheat and barley in the Near East, rice in China and potatoes in South America. Farming created surpluses, allowing population growth and establish permanent settlements. Other features of the period include:

  • The domestication of the animals (by 6000 BC in China and Mesopotamia);
  • New tools like axes to clear forests and bring new lands under cultivation, hoes, sickles and grindstones;
  • The use of pottery to store grain;
  • The construction of earliest villages and towns often surrounded by walls to coral livestock;
  • Tombs built of stones.

 

The Metal Age:

Bronze Agefrom 3000 BC:

  • Copper and bronze tools and weapons (spearheads, arrowheads, chisels, saws);
  • Practice of trade throughout Europe;
  • Early mines and ore extraction methods;
  • High standard for craftsmanship (jewellery, statues, decoration);
  • Creation of stone alignments.

 

Iron Age: The Hitites of Anatolia made iron weapons between 2000 and 1200 BC. Iron working spread to Greece in about 1000 BC. It had advantage over bronze as it gave sharper, harder wearing edge; no combination with other metal needed; supplies were plentiful; used for nails, tools, weapons, casting utensils, jewellery and also for religious articles. European Iron Age ended with Roman Empire. There was no Iron Age in Americas, where iron was introduced by European colonists.

 

Dawn of History: Civilization is closely linked to the rise of cities. Urban life emerged as agriculture started to support artisans, traders, government and organized religion as well as people living in the land. From about 3000 BC, cities grew up on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia (Between the rivers), part of the ‘Fertile Crescent’. They were independent city-states at first, then part of empires. At the same time Egypt grew in power, and the eastern Mediterranean became a crossroads for traders and empire-builders.

 

Ancient Greece: The essential characteristics of European culture and civilization were forged in Greece, which became dominant force in the Mediterranean for 400 years before Alexander the Great briefly created one of the Largest Empires of the ancient world, spreading Greek (Hellenistic) culture to Egypt and deep into Asia.

 

Ancient Rome: Rome flourished for about 800 years, developing a technically advanced and sophisticated society, not seen again in the Western world until the 16th century. The early Roman state was a republic, ruled by a senate of leading citizens with elected magistrates or consuls. Despite frequent mismanagement, Rome sustained the empire for 400 years.

 

The Making of Europe: The collapse of Roman world left a mosaic of competing kingdoms in Europe. But most of the Germanic tribes were highly Romanized, had fought for Romans as mercenaries and had adopted their Christian religion. The changes they brought about were often more evolutionary than sudden. It was a time of turmoil, but out of the turmoil emerged new peoples and powers- and a new stage of European history.

 

Christianity: Within a few years after Christ, Jesus’ message spread beyond the Jews and grew into a cult stretching across the Roman Empire. When the Empire collapsed, the Western church presented much to learning and traditions of Rome, eventually becoming the dominant force of the medieval world.

 

The rise of Islam: In AD 610 after a series of revelations the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) founded a religion based on faith in a single God, clear social rules and the promise of afterlife. Arab conquests quickly spread Islam through south-west Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Christian Europe was hostile to Islam but later benefited from the preservation of Greek culture, and the scientific and medical knowledge of Arab Muslims. Islam gave unprecedented impetus to the intellectual development of the human race and that early Muslims held high the torch of light and learning at a time when the whole world was immersed in ignorance and barbarity. Islam furthered the cause of science. Modern science owes its origin to Islam and modern progress is the outcome of the freedom of thought and spirit of enquiry proscribed for Muslims by the Holy Quran, and not a product of Christianity which for a long time relentlessly proscribed all free thinking and liberal reasoning and even scientific researches on original lines, and horribly persecuted all those who indulged in these. Muslims laid the foundation of Physical Sciences. Western Civilization is the direct offspring of Arab Civilization in Spain. The very Renaissance was brought about by the impact of Islamic culture and learning. All the knowledge, whether of Astronomy, Mathematics, Architecture, Physics, Medicine, History, Geography, Alchemy and Algebra, Modern Chemistry, Political Economy, Sociology, Zoology, Geology, Botany, Navigation, Agriculture, Irrigation, Gardening, Statistics, Chronology, Topography,  even Aviation or Philosophy of which the Europeans later made themselves masters, originally derived from the Saracenic schools.

 

The Middle Ages: Around 1000 AD. Europe was divided among many monarchs and regional lords whose authority over their territories varied greatly. Trade expanded, towns grew and won autonomy, craftsmen formed guilds, and universities were founded. Writers such as Dante and Chaucer produced masterpieces, and massive cathedrals were built to assert belief in the power of the divine order.

 

India: There was a flourishing civilization in Indus valley by 2500 BC. Repeated invasions from Central Asia brought a succession of empires, influenced by first Hinduism and Buddhism and then by Islam. The last of these was Mughal Empire. But India’s wealth and sophisticated economy continued to attract both trade and military invasion from the east as well as the west- most spectacularly of the British Raj.

Kashmir has the distinction of being the only place in the world that has a recorded history for the past about 5000 years. According to Rajtarangni kingship was established here right in 12th century BC itself.

 

China and Japan: For most of the world history, China was the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Until the 19th century, it remained almost self-sufficient, amassing huge national wealth by exporting silk, spices and (later) porcelain. Japan remained culturally in the shadow of its powerful neighbor for many centuries, but was equally insular and self-reliant.

 

Africa: The vast scale and the natural wealth of Africa are matched by a diversity and richness of culture. From the 1000 year kingdom of Meroe in southern Egypt to the fabulous wealth of the West African Gold Coast to the mysterious builders of great Zimbabwe, African people traded, worshipped and built empires across a vast continent. Arabs arrived from 7th century and Europeans from the 15thfirst in search of trade, then as settlers, farmers and adventurers drawn by tales of minerals, gems and gold.

 

Ancient America: The people of ancient America developed distinctive civilizations in almost total isolation from the rest of the world. In Mexico, Central America and the Andes, farming peoples created complex urban societies centered on religious cults. Their cultures spread to the hunting and farming societies of North America. All these cultures were destroyed after the arrival of Europeans in 1942.

 

The Renaissance: In 14th century a new mood of enquiry stirred in Italy, and spread across Europe. Inspired by rediscovery of classical learning by Arabs, scholars and artists began to reappraise the world and it took 200 years for the transition from medieval world to a modern one.

 

The age of exploration: In 15th century, improvement in shipping and a demand for Far Eastern silks and spices led European navigators to explore new waters. The Portuguese followed Arabs and worked around Africa to India and beyond, while Columbus crossed the Atlantic. The whole world was now open to European exploration, trade and settlement.

 

This was followed by clash of faiths between Catholics and Protestants in 16th century, in which lakhs of people were caught up in the struggle between the two faiths. Next the world witnessed the age of kings followed by European turmoil, creation of USA, the industrial revolution in 18th and 19th centuries, formation of new nations and empires in 19th century, world war I, Russian revolution, World war II, end of empire, The Cold war, The New world order in 20th century.

 

Landmarks of Civilization: These emerged in the Fertile Crescent after 10,000 BC.

  • Cities: Some of the oldest cities were found in the Middle East such as Jericho-8350 BC, Catal Hayuku in Anatolia –the largest city in the world 6250-5400 BC.
  • Wheel: It started off in Mesopotamia in 3500 BC as a potter’s tool and was used for vehicles after 3500 BC.
  • Legal system: Hamurabi (1792-1750 BC) king of Babylon codified the oldest known laws. The Jewish Torah dates from 4th century BC.
  • Writing: Around 3300 BC –the Sumerians developed one of the earliest writing system- a picture based script called cuneiform, impressed on clay tablets. In 1100 BC Phoenicians created a sound based alphabet later the basis of all modern European scripts.
  • Mathematics: The number system of Mesopotamia gave us the 60 minute hour and 360 degree circle. The Arabic numerals with Indian zero was a great leap forward in this direction.
  • Monotheism: Belief in a single all powerful God was a key feature of Judaism and later of both Christianity and Islam.

 

Scientific Thinkers: The search for a framework of knowledge about the world around began with the theorizing of ancient philosophers. By the 17th century, experimentation and observation were the preferred tools of deduction. In both approaches, progress has relied on a few exceptionally creative thinkers. Progress was made in the fields of  mathematics, matter and energy, earth sciences, cosmology, life sciences and arts, photography, architecture, furniture, classical and popular music, dance, literature, drama, cinema, printing, newspapers, radio, television, fashion, food, games, road transport, trains, steamships, navigation, aviation, space travel, information technology, energy consumption, fossil fuels, nuclear power, renewable energy, mineral resources, electricity and magnetism, radioactivity, chemistry, archaeology, everyday inventions, telecommunications, computer technology, digital communications, the internet, modern medicine, civil engineering, age of armour, nuclear age etc. In all these fields engineers have played a key role. The pace of development in the past few decades has been much faster than ever before and the future poses more drastic challenges due to population explosion and limited available resources.

Thus Engineers are key figures in the material progress of the world as rightly portrayed in today’s theme of the seminar.. A world-class engineer, regardless of the job he is engaged in, is always considered an asset to the nation and the society; as it is he who makes a reality of the potential value of science by translating scientific knowledge into tools, resources, energy, and labour to bring science into the service of the country.

It is a challenge to conclude about the class to which the engineers of India belong. In the diversified, heterogeneous nature of development in our country, the engineers have to work from construction of rural roads to manufacturing of spaceships to Mars. Both are equally important for accelerating the development of the country. There is no scope to undermine the contemporary skill and knowledge of the engineers of our country. It is a matter of pride that Indian engineers, whether working in the country or outside, are a force to reckon with globally.

There is a gap of development in the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. However the lessons learnt from the experiences in the developed countries can be utilized in the development of the developing and the under developed countries. It was recently in the media that vertical expansion of the cities have not found favour in developed countries, and it was suggested to go in for the smart cities, which may also be suitable for the future development of Srinagar city Master Plan.

 

I have personally witnessed the excellent contribution of world class consultants and engineers besides the Indian engineers in the development of the modern cities in UAE and had an opportunity to attend the Infrastructure Arabia Summit conference  alongside World eco-consult, 22-25 April 2012 Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), extracts of which have been published by me in my book “Environment in Jammu & Kashmir” under the heading: “Building a sustainable framework for the Middle East compared to J&K State”. Besides, American visitors expressed their opinion that the newly developed twin cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are far superior to the age-old developed American cities. One finds a marked difference between the huge steel sections of Indira Gandhi International airport and  the aesthetically designed sections of Dubai airport. Similarly we find every road curve, foot path, signaling system, electric installations etc. strictly according to the prescribed engineering standards as against our constructions in J&K State, violating all norms without any consultancy or quality control. However the knowledge, skill, and wisdom of Indian engineers are no less than that of their counterparts from other so-called “advanced” countries. Due to the socio-politico-economic structure of our country, engineering is still very much labour-intensive. Unlike in other parts of the developed world, Indian engineers are quite capable of blending the modern mechanized systems with prevailing traditional human-oriented activities.

 

As rightly said, that it does not mean that the pursuit for self-enrichment by Indian engineers will not be perceived. India requires large numbers of qualified and competent engineers to address the numerous challenges faced in the developmental journey. To produce large numbers of competent engineering and technical personnel to take on the global challenges, India will need to complete the following activities to transform the curriculum for training and skill up gradation:

 

  1. i) Generate awareness about the global nature of the profession, in-tune with      growing challenges and opportunities – In this connection as seeing is believing, exposure of engineers to the problems could be achieved by arranging their tours to the developed and the developing countries.
  2. ii) Develop a comprehensive understanding in the respective engineering discipline to tackle complex, real-world problems.–One need to keep abreast with the current challenges of engineering issues through modern information technology and enrolling as members of the national and international societies of engineers.

iii)                Accept challenges and solve them with wisdom and shared knowledge  — Our engineers are equally competent to take challenges and find their solutions if given the opportunity.

  1. iv) Acquire knowledge and expertise through lifelong education and continuous learning – In the present age of developed information technology this has become easier than before. Besides participation in seminars helps exchange of thoughts and knowledge.
  2. v) Build familiarity in other engineering and scientific disciplines so that interdisciplinary solution approaches can be evolved.—Holding of interdisciplinary seminars, participation, interaction and exchange of thoughts can be of great help in this direction.
  3. vi) Pursue opportunities to apply skills in both traditional and non-traditional fields to address societal challenges — Our engineers are quite competent to undertake this task provided given the opportunity.

vii)              Communicate and interact with other highly recognized international leaders in engineering,  (again present facilities are far better for this job) and

viii)             Establish themselves as personalities with ethical and noble values—This is most important aspect for which moral education right from the school days needs to be stressed. In earlier days, there used to be taught to children the stories with moral endings like Shaikh Sadi’s  Karima Nami Haq, Gulistan, Bostan, Moulana Rumi’s Masnavi and also Ikhlaq-i-Mohsini etc. that would remain inscribed in the child’s mind all along his life and would help to build his character. This aspect has been ignored in the modern education system and that is why we are confronted nowadays with moral degradation around us.

 

It is rightly said that achieving excellence is a journey that needs considerable effort. It requires a transition from a reactive, compliance-based approach to a proactive, contributory and value-add mindset to create an environment of sustained operational progress. Over the long-term, it is hoped that the world-class engineers will create a set of approaches and best-practices that will improve tomorrow’s world, create long-term value, and institutionalize business sustainability.

 

It is engineers who have contributed their bit in creation of world wonders in the past and the process is on with achievement of new discoveries in different branches of science and technology. Right from making of a needle to the creation of spaceship engineering is involved at every step. It is only when blood and sweat is put together that a wonder comes into being. As Dr Iqbal rightly said:

 

                      نغمہ ہے سوداۓ خام خون جگر کے بغیر                                                                        نقش ہیں ناتمام خون جگر کے بغیر        

References:

  1. Facts at your fingertips-Reader’s Digest.
  2. Islam’s contribution to Science and Civilization- Maulvi Abdul Karim.
  3. Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia

 

 

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The classic seven wonders were:

Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of AlexandriaThe only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Lists from other eras:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers wrote their own lists with names such as Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind, and Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages.

Stonehenge, Colosseum, Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Great Wall of China, Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, Hagia Sophia, Leaning Tower of Pisa

Other sites sometimes included on such lists:

Taj Mahal, Cairo Citadel, Ely Cathedral, Cluny Abbey

Recent lists:Following in the tradition of the classical list, modern people and organizations have made their own lists of wonderful things ancient and modern. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.

American Society of Civil Engineers:In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of Seven Wonders of the Modern World, paying tribute to the “greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century”:

Wonder Date started Date finished Location
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France
CN Tower February 6, 1973 June 26, 1976, tallest freestanding structure in the world 1976–2007. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Empire State Building January 22, 1930 May 1, 1931, Tallest structure in the world 1931–1967. First building with 100+ stories. New York, NY, U.S.
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, between Brazil andParaguay
Delta Works/Zuiderzee Works 1920 May 10, 1997 Netherlands
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama

 

New7Wonders Foundation:

 

Wonder Date of construction Location
Great Wall of China Since 7th century BC[16] China
Petra
  1. 100 BC
Jordan
Christ the Redeemer Opened October 12, 1931 Brazil
Machu Picchu
  1. AD 1450
Peru
Chichen Itza
  1. AD 600
Mexico
Colosseum Completed AD 80 Italy
Taj Mahal Completed c. AD 1648 India
Great Pyramid of Giza (Honorary Candidate) Completed c. 2560 BC Egypt

 

Top 10 Engineering  wonders of the modern world:

 

  1. Pearl Bridge Japan – Longest suspension bridge-central span 6532 ft. – completed 1998
  2. Millau Viaduct — Tallest cable stayed bridge – France- ht. 343 mts.- completed 2004
  3. USS George H.W.Bush (CVN 77)- world’s largest warship-100,000 Mts.-comp—2009
  4. North European offshore gas pipeline-Russia to Germany—1,222 kms. long 2011-2012
  5. Beijing National Stadium China- world’s largest steel structure – used in 2008 Olympics
  6. Bailong Elevator China- world’s highest and longest glass elevator-330 mts. High-2002
  7. Palm Islands Dubai-world’s biggest artificial islands- 1500 villas – on artificial beaches
  8. Euro Tunnel- England to France- underwater -31 miles long, 23 of which is in sea.
  9. Three Gorges Dam China- Hydroelectric dam on Yangtze River-22,500 MW- com.2008
  10. Pan-STARRS-for Panaromic Survey & Rapid Response System- see galaxy ever better.

 

EAT BUT DON’T WASTE

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Eat, but don’t waste

Let us all ponder over the theme of this year’s Environment Day

ER. MOHAMMAD ASHRAF FAZILI

Climate and environment are the world’s great chefs, giving Mexico its tortillas, Greece its goats milk, cheese; China its pork spareribs and Japan its seafood dishes. And it is regional variations in these two factors that strongly influence what is raised where.
The world’s three main cereals are wheat, corn and rice, each of which has its special needs. Wheat is a crop of the temperate prairies and will tolerate very cold winters. Corn is vulnerable to frost and is therefore confined to a warmer climate band. And rice favors the special combination of warmth and copious rainfall that is found especially in monsoon zones.
Grain constitutes about half of the world’s food production by weight, but similar factors associate other crops with particular environments: for example, grapes with Mediterranean climates and the potato with dull, cloudy skies and clammy soils.
There are vast expanses of desert and bleak uplands whose lean and rocky soils support little more than coarse grasses. Since the human stomach cannot digest grass, it is the livestock here in particular the sheep and the goats- that act as our food converters, yielding meat, milk and cheese.
Cattle can be raised in a temperate band stretching from the edge of the Sahara to the margins of the Arctic Circle. But cattle, like sheep are ruminant’s digestive system calls for a diet chiefly of grass and which require wide grazing area. These are an inefficient food resource for the world’s overpopulated regions and due to vulnerability to the tsetse fly, are especially scarce in the humid tropics. China is the main producer of pork yielding nearly 40 percent of the global total.
Fish like all other food-stuffs, display preferences for habitat. Cod favors the cold waters of the North Atlantic, while tuna prefer warmer seas; flatfish, such as halibut feed on the seabed, while herring cruise close to the surface. The principal fishing grounds are all in coastal zones where nutrients, leached from the land, mix with the rich sediment that is swept up from the sea floor by ocean currents and offshore winds. These waters comprise our teeming marine meadow lands, thick with tiny plankton supporting larger organisms that are, in turn, consumed by shoaling fish. In total the earth’s fishing fleets bring in some 68 million tons a year. Japan, with its intricate network of islands, has an ancient fishing tradition and remains the largest single harvester of the sea.
AVAILABILITY AND FAMINES
If the global harvests were shared out equally, each person could receive 5lbs. (2.3 kgs.) of food per day. Hunger need never be with us.
The reason why famines still take their terrible toll has more to do with the complexities of politics, economics, storage and distribution than with the physical capacity of the earth itself. The planet is fertile. Science has opened up new possibilities. And, in the opinion of many experts the age old scourge of hunger could with global cooperation, be eradicated in the near future.
To meet future needs, we can colonize the world’s inhabitable areas. The earth’s total cultivable land is some 7.9 billion acres, of which less than half is currently being farmed. Although the remainder may be harsh or inaccessible terrain, we have the means to drain swamps, plant hillsides and bring deserts into bloom.
One short term response to starvation in the third world is to transport surplus food from where it is stockpiled to where it is needed. The biggest grain exporters are USA, Canada, Australia and Argentina. Thanks to the green revolution, India, Thailand, Burma and Surinam can now be added to the list of smaller net exporters. Many others for example Mexico and the Soviet Republics would be the net grain exporters but for the demands of live stock, which now consume more grain than grass.
Lakhs of animals are slaughtered on Id-uz-zuha in Haj pilgrimage, only a small part of which would be distributed in earlier days and the rest bull-dozed into the ground, but now it has been made possible to dispatch the surplus meat to starving countries.
In the long term, however the transporting of surplus food does nothing to help farmers in poor countries to produce more. Indeed, pouring cheap food into third world can lower prices there so much that local farmers are put out of business. Except in emergencies, perhaps what poor countries need most is appropriate technology, transport facilities, education and better administration.
One global measure of food production is provided by the average number of calories supplied by the agriculture of different countries. How many calories an individual actually needs depend on his or her body weight, type of activity and the environmental temperature. Accounting for these variables, the FAO of UN estimates the average daily needs of a person in Finland, where a relatively old population lives in a tropical climate; the average is 2,160 calories per day. One must eat what he needs and overeating leads to obesity and other resultant diseases, besides wastage of food.
Wastage of food is prohibited by all. The Holy Quran says: “Kulu Washrabu Wala Tusrifu”- You may eat and drink but do not cross the limits. A Hakim from Syria stayed for six months in Madina at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBH), but had to leave as no patient visited him. On enquiry, he was told that people fill a third of their stomach with solid food and a third with liquid and leave a third empty. The Hakim concluded that most of the diseases are stomach related, hence the result. Besides there are many instances, when people served the needy and themselves preferred to go hungry.
Here is a lesson for us not to serve excessive food with meat in wazwan resulting into waste that could feed many more starving people. In olden days, sharing food on a plate by four people served with just seven preparations of meat/vegetables with no wastage, but the today’s extravagance with over 20 preparations of meat and chicken has made it a curse in these hard times. The height of things is that we indulge and participate with great interest in these extravagant functions yet simultaneously lamenting while sharing the wazwan. In this behalf the procedure adopted by Arabs and South Indians is preferable, when they gather around a huge plate full of Biryani etc, and pour their desirable share in their respective plates causing zero wastage. Many people are shifting to buffet service now in Kashmir too which eliminates wastage.
Author is Retd. Chief Engineer. Reach him at shahishaharyar@gmail.com

 

 

The Flood Fury of 2014 in Kashmir

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The Flood Fury of 2014.
It is said that, ‘Floods are acts of God, but acts of man cause flood damage’. The recent floods of Kashmir Valley are a testimony to this fact. The Holy Quran states:
“We sent Noah to the people …. (With a message)
But they rejected him
And We delivered him and those with him
In the Ark
But We overwhelmed
In the Flood those
Who rejected Our Signs
They were indeed
A blind people!” (7:59-64)
Noah’s warning was rejected by his generation and they were destroyed in the Flood. (C. 85)
The formation of Satisar is also reported to be a remnant of Noah’s deluge. The Japanese scholars have recently expressed high regards for Kashmir as according to them it is the first land-mass to emerge after the floods of Prophet Noah (called Manu) receded. Lawrence quotes in his Valley of Kashmir that it is said that where the Wullar rests there was a great and a wicked city which was swallowed up by an earthquake, and the floods completed its destruction. The meaning of the word ‘Wullar’ is cave and the legends say that the remains of the wicked city have been seen by the boatmen. The formation of Dal Lake is also ascribed to the flooding of Talni Marg during the reign of Raja Parvarsen in sixth century AD, who constructed an embankment from Rainawari to Dalgate (now a road) to block the drainage of the newly formed lake. The Valley witnessed again major flood in 879 AD in the reign of king Awantiwarman, when the low-lying areas of the Valley were flooded due to blockade of river Jhelum down below Varmul and Er. Suya devised an ingenious method of removing the blockade by dropping gold coins in the river bed, which resulted into the clearance of debris by local divers followed by release of dammed up waters to push the blockade downstream. “The flood of 1893 was a great calamity, but it had the good effect of warning the State that the valuable house property in Srinagar was inadequately protected. The protection works were taken in hand but at the same time, it was apprehended that the security of city means loss to cultivation on the banks of the river above Srinagar. The more Srinagar is protected the more obstruction there will be to passage of waters from south through the city. Thus, the founders of Srinagar have bequeathed a serious engineering problem to their successors”, says Lawrence. In 1959 floods, with almost equal discharge as of today, there has not been such a colossal damage as the pressure on the river was decreased first by allowing inundation of flood plains through Kandizal breach besides catering of one third of discharge by flood spill channel and also allowing a part of discharge to flow into Dal Lake, where water level was maintained lower than the present one, thus saving the city from inundation. In addition colonies had not come up at the low-lying areas of Rajbagh, Jawahirnagar, Mahjoor Nagar and Bemina etc., which formed flood lungs in emergencies. The Master Plan 2000-2021 describes that river Jhelum and its diversion channels namely Tsunti Khul, Kuta Khul, Soner Khul and Watel Khul were navigational per-se. These water courses contributed to a large extent to the environment, trade and water transport and helped to carrying down substantial volume of discharge during floods. Incidentally the proposed mechanized water transport on river Jhelum would have proved a great savior in the recent crisis. “Water transport on the water courses has dwindled for the reason that over a period of time cross sections of river and khuls have squeezed, beds have risen and draft dropped down due to heavy siltation. The banks of the river and khuls have been mis-used by the public and encroached upon”, says Lawrence.. Several recommendations have been made regarding reviving the carrying capacities of the river and the adjoining streams, but no action was taken till date despite passage of fourteen years of the city’s Master Plan period. It was a practice to mark with paint the HFL (Highest flood level) on the walls of important Govt. buildings to serve as a reference mark for raising the plinths of future constructions at least one meter higher than the HFL. It is high time that this practice is revived marking the current HFL for future guidance.
The recent flash floods have left many lessons for us to take care for future development. The chronological order of events that were reported in the media was as under:
01. Heavy rains lashed Jammu& Kashmir including summer capital Srinagar for the second consecutive day Wednesday triggering flood threat across the Valley. Water level at Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar 12 ft., six notches below danger mark; water level at Sangam Anantnag 21 ft., two notches below danger mark. Met. Deptt. forecast moderate to heavy rains to lash Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions till Saturday morning. (GK Sept. 3rd. 2014)
02. Flood threat looms over Kashmir. (GK Sept. 4th.)
03. Kashmir floods throw life out of gear, several areas inundated, many structures damaged. CM reviews situation. Flood alert sounded. Water level in Jhelum touches record level of 31 ft. The discharge of Jhelum was 70,000 cusecs against normal discharge of 25,000 cusecs. A breach occurred at Kandizal area of Budgam. Authorities asked people living in flood-prone areas and embankments of rivers and streams to shift to safer areas. More rains forecast on Friday. Flood waters breached many embankments in many low-lying areas in Kashmir including Srinagar, forcing people to move to safer places. Jhelum River crossed 30 ft. mark at Sangam in Anantnag-7 ft. above danger mark. It touched 21.8 ft against the danger mark of 18 ft. at Ram Munshi Bagh. Rains inundate city center, residential colonies.
Met Deptt. said, “though September is not a rainy season for Kashmir, but due to under-development of favourable weather system, there had been wide-spread heavy rain in past as well. One such year after 1980 was 1992 (September) when most parts of Kashmir received heavy rains apart from Sept. 1988 in Jammu region. In future also we cannot rule out heavy rainfall in September”.
Srinagar received 88 mm. rain, Qazigund 286 mm.,Pahalgam 115 mm.,Kupwara 61 mm.,Kukarnag 219 mm., Jammu 107 mm., Banihal 248 mm.,Katra 158 mm., Badarwah 165 mm. and Gulmarg 139 mm. in past two days. Roads got damaged bridges washed away, villages got flooded in Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Baramulla. National Highway closed. Educational institutions closed. Marriage invitations cancelled. CM reviews situation.
People helpless, Government sleepless. Doodganga bunds breached. Bone & Joint Hospital and residential colonies inundated. Bund breaches not plugged at Rawalpora, Peerbagh, Natipora, Chanapora. (GK Sept. 5th.)
Telephones, Mobile phones, internet, Radio Kashmir, DD Kashir, electricity supply, water supply snapped. Press enclave submerged.
04. Flood fury, death toll 248. Twenty five bodies recovered from Srinagar. Doctors send alarm of epidemic. As floods recede, administration yet to come out of debris. Fear of dead bodies keeps people away from Jawahirnagar, locals complain of tardy dewatering. GK resumes publication after ten days.
05. Kashmir economy down by a trillion. Damage to infrastructure 100,000 cr. Houses either fully or partially damaged 300,000. Flood affected villages in Kashmir-1700, in Jammu 900. Roads damaged 12,553. Mobile and Internet not restored. Flooded Dal Lake tells its own tale of destruction, Lake dotted with ravaged houseboats, scary boat-wallas, reopening of civil secretariat proves damp squib. (GK Sept. 19th)
06. Toll mounts to 280. HC seeks Govt. response on ‘tardy’ relief measures. NGO’s, Bill Gates announce relief for J&K floods. (GK Sept. 20th)
07. Day 14- Civil lines still submerged. Lal Chowk once a buzzing market turns into ghost- street. Scourging floods spawn tales of youth valor. (GK Sept. 21st)
08. 13 patients lost their lives as Govt. abandoned SMHS Hospital. Deluge destroyed Radiology Deptt., Medical ICU, ENT, Ophthamological facilities, Diagnostic labs etc.
Day 15-Thousands still out of their homes. Kashmir confronted devastating deluge with unity, compassion- uninterrupted relief, rescuers poured in from untouched areas. (GK Sept.22nd)
09. Day 16- Srinagar areas remain inundated. Kashmir inc cries criminal negligence demands probe. Deepening of river bed saved Ganderbal. Down town brave hearted rescued 300 people from flooded Lal Ded Hospital. (GK Sept.23rd)
10. Day 17- crises mounts in flood hit Srinagar. People fume as dewatering goes on at sluggish pace. Dewatering process goes awry, thanks to official apathy. CM meets PM demands special rehab package. (GK Sept. 24th)
11. Now JK seeks outside help to pump out flood water. SC panel to ascertain situation. 9 brave hearts, 2 boats and one rescue mission. Pampore youth brave flood fury to save 2000 people in 3 days. Daharmuna swimmers saved 400 people in deluged Bemina. Volunteers executed 3-day operation with precision, rescued policemen, kids. (GK Sept.25th)
12. Prices of essentials sky rocket after floods. Govt. likely to submit loss memo to GOI by weekend. Water filters donated by Oxfam India struck in red-tape. Relief material unlikely to reach needy in view of hurdles created by J&K Govt. (GK Sept. 26th)
13. Devastating deluge- 12 lakh families hit in J&K. Kashmir boys extend helping hand from Bangalore to flood victims. (GK Sept. 28th)
14. Centre preparing comprehensive policy on Kashmir: Rajnath Singh. Pune’s offer to help clean Srinagar found no takers. We offered support, were told to wait: Commissioner. Flood ravages JK’s road infrastructure, Estimated damage Rs.1427 cr.
15. Kashmir Floods- a disaster of international magnitude. Govt. clueless how Srinagar sank. Babus surface to defend cornered Govt. J&K inadequately prepared for floods. Flood havoc –PIL seeks probe into official negligence.
16. Many more events got unnoticed or unreported in the media, a few instances are as:
i) Mr. Showkat a teacher in Fine Arts received an SMS at his home at Rainawari that flood waters in Jhelum have reached Rajbagh area. He rushed in a boat to save his wife and one month old son and his parents-in-law from Rajbagh locality. He rowed his boat over the bund along the current, boarded his family and others in the boat and rowed back now against the current, which was an uphill task for him. He saw three persons carried by the current near the bund and two persons drowned near the fountain outside Radio Kashmir building. Helplessly he could not save them. He saw a houseboat had been carried by the current upto TAO Café on the Residency road.
ii) Two officers of high profile along with their families were found rushing to airport in a motorboat, but got struck with an iron rod damaging the boat and were saved by a local of the area.
iii) A relative of ours under treatment was short of oxygen and was carried to SKIMS, thus his family escaped the wrath of floods, but he himself passed away, besides his house at Jawahirnagar crumbled down.
iv) Another relative on dialysis had to be lifted along with his family on a helicopter to carry him to Delhi for safety.
v) Another promising boy who had invested everything in his business and owned a shop at Sangarmal shopping complex lost everything. Like that there must be innumerable happenings that got unreported.
vi) A family in Bemina lost their earning hand a few months back in a slip in his house, survived by a handicapped boy of 14 years, two small daughters, old aged mother-in-law and the ill-fated wife. They resided in a single storeyed house that got submerged and they shifted to the roof slab. Somehow they were rescued and walked over a kilometer up to Iqbal memorial crossing. They were provided shelter in a nearby two storey house, water followed them there too. Somehow after a great struggle they could be rescued after five days.
Thus it is evident from above that both the public as well as Govt. were caught unawares in the flash floods who never expected such an unprecedented wrath of flood waters. But the people charged with the task of flood protection, establishment of round the clock control room, organizing of yearly flood rehearsals, ensuring of alternative wireless communications, engineering the preparedness of the disaster management, ensuring instant relief measures, etc. cannot be absolved of their responsibilities. In fact Govt. is supposed to foresee and plan ahead for the upcoming events.
However it is but natural for water to overflow its banks in the event of rainfall in its upper catchment and spill into flood plains which are basically its right of way. Extensive and often unplanned use of flood plains, disregarding the basic fact, that it is a part and parcel of the river, leads to flood damage. Thus the uncontrolled and indiscriminate development of flood plains due to pressure of population can be considered as one of the main factors responsible for the ever increasing flood damage reported from the different parts of the country in spite of the substantial investment in the flood-sector during the last six decades.
Due to financial constraints no flood control structure can be constructed to provide total or absolute protection against all conceivable magnitude of floods. Moreover not all “flood prone” areas are amenable to protection through conventional flood-control measures due to a variety of reasons. For details and subjects of Flood Management, Concept of Flood Plain Zoning, Broad Methodology, Attempts in the past, Flood forecasting, Flood warning and the Valley Scenario, Engineering preparedness for disaster mitigation etc. please consult my book “Environment in Jammu & Kashmir” published in 2013 by M/S Gulshan Books Srinagar.
Er. Ashraf Fazili (Retd. Chief Engineer)

2014- Major Flood in Kashmir after over half a century

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2014-  Major Flood in Kashmir after over half a century

In 1959 I, along with my six colleagues had to travel to Madras for joining our Degree engineering courses for which we were selected by Public Service Commission. The valley was passing through a major flood, due to several days of incessant rains, as at present and road communication to Jammu was cut off. We chose to fly, but the sky was so densely overcast with clouds that the Dakota plane could not take off for seven consecutive days and we used to report at the airport everyday and return disappointed, after having a lunch carried from our homes. It was on the eighth day that the pilot found some gap in the clouds and we had a bumpy flight and touched the Pathankot air port to have our usual lunch there carried by us. In the evening, when we boarded the jam packed train bound for Delhi, it was full of the tourists who had escaped from the valley after a long wait of so many days and were all averse to their visit to the valley, saying: “Kashmir Kala Pani Hai” naming Kashmir as Kala Pani, which was a name given to the notorious prison of Andaman islands established by Britishers for punishment to the freedom fighters of India. These tourists had sold all their belongings for their survival. On our return in 1963, we had to witness many more floods during our forty years service tenure till 2003, but it was never so worst as that of 1959. The flood duties would give us many sleepless nights, but we were told that a major flood visits the valley after almost every 50 years. However this year’s major flood marks 55th  year from that of the 1959 flood.

The history of floods in Kashmir valley is perhaps the oldest one. Recent discoveries of age old monuments have proven that before formation of Satisar Lake, Kashmir valley has been a valley inhabited by people. It began with the closing of mountainous gorge below Varmul, due to some catastrophe that the valley got flooded to form Satisar Lake. Later on with the puncturing of the outlet down below Varmul the receding of hundreds of feet deep  Satisar Lake, perhaps a hundred million years ago, people roaming on the mountain tops began to settle on the exposed lake bed. Floods continued to inundate the low lying areas frequently thereafter and the formation of Dal Lake is ascribed to flooding of Talni Marg during the reign of Raja Parvarsen in sixth century AD, who constructed an embankment from Dalgate to Rainawari (now a road) to block the drainage of the newly formed lake. In ninth century in the reign of king Awantiwarman, when the low lying areas of the valley were inundated due to blockade of river Jhelum down below Varmul, Er. Suya devised an ingenious method of removing the blockade by dropping gold coins into the river bed, which was got cleared by the local divers and subsequently releasing the dammed up waters on the upstream side with a gushing force to push down the rocks to allow the drainage of the flooded valley. Sir Walter Lawrence in his “Valley of Kashmir” gives us account of frequent floods in the Valley, touching the period of 19th century, when in absence of river embankments even Lal Chowk would get submerged. The tourists ke Younghusband liwould enter the first floor of Nedou’s Hotel by boat only, when the ground floor would remain submerged.

The second half of last century has testified concussion of low lying areas with residential colonies both authorized and unauthorized with the result that the new Master Plan of Srinagar city had to concede the abuse of the earlier one on account of the mushroom growth of housing colonies in flood basin areas of river Jhelum. Now even the low lying agriculture lands are getting urbanized despite existence of legislation against it. The threat of floods is looming large almost every year for which a separate Flood Control Department has been functioning to face any adverse situation. Besides we often hear the formation of disaster management committees and training for the volunteers but the affected people are full of complaints against the timely help from the administration.

In my book ‘Environment in Jammu & Kashmir’published M/S Gulshan Books in 2013, besides other topics on water management there is a topic on cost effective measures for flood management besides engineering disaster mitigation in which the subjects have been analysed with the expected unforeseen disasters due to climate changes.The write-ups still hold good for future planning and precautions.

Er. Ashraf Fazili (retd. Chief Engr)