By RIDA ALI, age 10

Critics argue that many of the deaths in Kashmir could have been prevented if the the Indian government had evacuated the area or taken action more quickly. PHOTO: kavitakapoor/Flickr
Critics argue that many of the deaths in Kashmir could have been prevented if the the Indian government had evacuated the area or taken action more quickly. PHOTO: kavitakapoor/Flickr

In the first week of September 2014, heavy rains hit the Indian Kashmir Valley, flooding the area and killing nearly 600 people and leaving thousands homeless in India and Pakistan.

Kashmir is in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Indian administered Kashmir is occupied by the Indian military and is the largest military occupation in the world. Both Pakistan and India lay claim to all of Kashmir and this has been the root of two out of three wars that the two countries have fought against each other. The conflict is one of the reasons that relief efforts for the disaster have been criticized as being uncoordinated and insufficient.

Critics argue that many of the deaths in Kashmir could have been prevented if the the Indian government had evacuated the area or taken action more quickly. There was little coordination between geologists working with the flood warning systems, and people who fund development in the region of Kashmir, such as international development agencies. Meteorologists had warned of heavy rains but the Indian government did not take necessary action before or after the flooding began. “In the recent devastating floods, it was observed that local youth took a lead in rescuing people in distress, risking their own lives,” said Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, the former chief engineer for the local Kashmir government in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Climate change may also be affecting how powerful the floods have become over recent years. Scientists studying climate change say that the frequency and intensity of monsoons and heavy rains has increased and will continue to rise in the Himalayan region. In order to plan for future flooding, it is important that the Indian government develops better dams and flood drainage, puts into place flood warning systems and takes action on climate change.