Deadly floods hit Islamabad
ON 28 July 2021, the news of flash floods striking Islamabad made headlines nationwide. The cataclysmic townscape spawned considerable apprehension among the citizens since the capital city has never experienced a disaster of such magnitude before.
However, keeping in view the lamentable state-of-affairs, it was anticipated sooner or later. Time and again, I have been urging the authorities to take prompt measures to address social and environmental issues via media platforms.
Much to my disappointment, I have not seen any such government response; which, if had been taken would not have resulted in the calamitous situation we are witnessing today.
As part of my daily commute, I had a commitment to attend on 28 July. Despite incessant downpour, I turned on the ignition and headed out.
Throughout the itinerary, I kept praying for this ‘cloudburst’ to slow down but I was eventually stopped right in my tracks after I saw a huge traffic jam ahead of me and drivers motioning each other to turn back.
Soon enough I found out that sectors, namely, E-11, D-12 and slums in F-6 and F-7, had witnessed the worst floods till date.
Later, the videos that uploaded on the social media showed cars sweeping away like boats, submergence of houses and commercial buildings.
What exacerbated the situation was the death of a woman and her son in their basement after the authorities failed to reach on time.
When I delved deeper into the matter, I started hearing news of how climate change poised an imminent threat that needed to be prioritized.
Some parties were quick to put the blame on rising temperatures, and unpredictable wind patterns which only tells half the story.
The meteorological department had warned that the country was insufficiently geared to face the menace of expected heavy Monsoon spells.
Nevertheless, the institutions illustrated a slapdash attitude. It was the inability to take advanced precautionary measures and renovate the disintegrated infrastructure beforehand.
The major cause of the inundation were the clogged-up drains and overflowing Nullahs due to illegal construction works of housing schemes, in the wake of unprecedented urbanization and population explosion.
Regardless, it is pertinent to applaud the speedy action of DC Islamabad and his management to assuage the situation.
By night, the Sanitation Directorate (MCI) had cleared up the water with the help of cleaners, tractors and drain cleaners.
Simultaneously, WAPDA sorted out the electricity failure; although, the internet connection is still undergoing maintenance by the PTCL.
To avoid further calamities in the upcoming rainy days, the government must take speedy action to rectify the prevalent shortcomings.
The need of the hour is for the government to set-up a Disaster Management Committee comprising professionals to forge an efficient strategy and policy.
Disaster relief operations must be allocated the required staff, equipment and funds to mitigate such disasters.
The rescue-and-relief operations must be strengthened with upgraded telemetry, early warning systems and aviation to speed up early evacuation.
As stated by DC Hamza Shafqat, at best, it is safe to restrict unnecessary movement during high alert deluge.
—The writer is a degree-holder, from University of London and has remained associated with National Assembly, Foreign Office and South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.