Do it yourself! That was the mantra behind the valiant efforts by nearly 3,000 residents of Old Barzullah locality in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir to save themselves from the overflowing Doodh Ganga stream that threatened to seep into their homes.
Heavy rainfall across Kashmir Valley swelled the water bodies with water level in Doodh Ganga stream rising menacingly fast.
The residents of the peninsula-shaped locality, Old Barzullah, which is covered by water bodies on two of its three sides, sent SOS to all concerned agencies for taking measures to prevent water from inundating the densely populated residential area.
"We were promised help by the district administration as well as officials of Flood Control department but none came out way till the stream started overflowing its banks," Mohammad Yousuf Mir claimed.
Mir said all the government officials had to do was send a JCB to cut an embankment of Doodh Ganga stream that would have allowed the excess water to pass into a flood channel.
"For three hours, we were waiting for the government to act but we apparently were not a priority. That when we decided to take control of the situation," Mir said.
Mir along with few dozen youth first tried to cut the embankment using shovels and spades but the task proved very difficult.
"We then decided to pool money and hired a private JCB which cut through the embankment and the water level receded within an hour," Mohammad Shafi, another local resident, said.
The residents were all praise for Mohammad Fida, who volunteered to operate the JCB in the absence of an operator.
"The officials who were supposed to do this have not done anything. Two things we expect from them are credit for saving Barzulla and encashing some bills for this work," the residents said.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Shah admitted that the local residents had arranged a JCB on their own but maintained that official help was on its way.
"We could not have used three JCBs for this work. The locals had got one, SMC had sent one and Flood Control department another. Why should we use three when one was enough," he said.
The local residents also alleged that encroachment on the banks of Doodh Ganga by some people with links to both National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had resulted in soil erosion, leading to the floods.
Shah said he would look into the allegations as soon as the flood situation eases out.