Deforestation and its repercussions: An overview | By Tasneem Shafiq

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Deforestation and its repercussions: An overview 

PAKISTAN has been severely damaged by the increasing climate change and deforestation. The possibility of GLOFs, flash floods, cloud bursts and urban flooding has dangerously increased in the past few years.

Asia Times reported that Pakistan lost 9,986 lives in the last two decades due to climate change.3.8 billion dollars of economic loss was measured from 1998 to 2018.27,000 hectares of forest was lost annually by Pakistan.

In 2021, Pakistan lost 63.2 ha of tree cover, equivalent to 23.5 kt of CO? emissions as reported by the Global Forest Watch.

Resultantly, Pakistan has been exposed to heavy spells of rain during the current monsoon season.

Major damages were reported from Sindh, eastern Balochistan, Southern Punjab, some parts of KP and GB.

Funding and reconstruction efforts will be a challenge for cash-strapped Pakistan, which is having to cut spending to ensure that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves the release of much-needed bailout money.

Dams could have helped in the current situation if it was constructed. The unchecked real estate projects, illegal construction and land grabbing have worsened the condition.

The UN Agency Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the monsoon rains have displaced 184,000 people to relief camps across Pakistan.

This disaster started in mid-June and at least 33 million people have been affected which is now being termed as the worst disaster in the last decade.

More than one thousand people have died from severe rain and flooding across the South Asian country, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

In the aftermath of floods, those who are not directly affected by the floods will surely face food shortage in the coming months.

The monsoon rains have played havoc with the roads infrastructure disconnecting cities in Punjab, Balochistan and KP.

Massive amount of crops have been destroyed while fields have been swept away. Unprecedented rains have caused devastation to human life and communication infrastructure, especially in Balochistan.

Sindh has broken most of its record dating back to British era making it the worst hit province.

Monsoon 2022 has now become the wettest monsoon in the history of Pakistan. Padidan has recorded 1793mm of annual rainfall so far, making it the most wet in Pakistan.

1 crore people have been displaced in Sindh while 90% of this province’s crops alone have been completely destroyed.

Government of Pakistan declared national emergency: The government of Pakistan is working to mobilize the resources to extend relief to the affected people all across the country.

PM Shehbaz Sharif discussed the national emergency situation with COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa and NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz.

Sherry Rehman, the Minister for Climate Change said, “Pakistan is going through its 8th cycle of monsoon while normally the country has only 3-4 cycles of rain.

The percentages of super flood torrents are shocking. ”Minister Maryam Aurangzeb said, “National spirit is required to cope with the devastation caused by the calamity in Balochistan and Sindh provinces”.

She also requested the people, including overseas Pakistanis, to donate for the help of flood victims, noting that a significant amount will be required due to the intensity of destruction.

The donations can be deposited in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund 2022 Account No. ’G-12164′.

Government’s current priority is this climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

The NDMA said in a report that in the past 24 hours, 150 kilometres of roads have been damaged across the country and more than 82,000 homes partially or totally damaged.

Major flood relief efforts: Sensing the severity of calamity, Pakistan Army is rendering proactive support to national rescue/relief efforts across the provinces.

In this regard, GHQ MO Directorate in coordination with Army Flood Control Centre, Field Formations and relevant Government departments including FFD/PMD, FFC, NDMA, and PCIW Office, is closely monitoring the flood situation.

Formations are continuously providing required assistance to PDMAs/Civil Administration without awaiting normal formalities.

All General Officers of Pakistan Army donated their one-month salary for flood relief operations.

International funding that has been committed to Pakistan flood relief include; US$ 350million by World Bank, US$ 110 million by World Food Program, 40 million pounds by UK Aid, 3 Million dollars by UN Emergency Response Fund while China is providing 25000 tents apart from sending 10000.

Army doctors and paramedic teams are providing medical aid to flood victims as troops shift people to safer areas.

Cooked meals and rations are also being distributed among flood affectees. 6500 troops have been employed so far across the country in different rescue operations along with 250 vehicles, 50 boats, and 60 dewatering teams.

Multiple helicopter sorties have been operated from time to time, evacuating significant number of stranded individuals besides assistance in the distribution of relief items in far-flung areas of Lasbela, Uthal, Awaran, Ghizer, Koh-e-Salman (South Punjab), Rajanpur and DG Khan.

More than 40,000 civilians were evacuated to safer locations so far. Donation and distribution of 3 days dry ration of 1476 tons in flood-affected areas by concerned Formations.

633 tons of dry ration for Sindh and 492 tons for Balochistan were distributed. Army Relief Fund for flood affectees has also been established to facilitate collection of contributions from officers/Internal Institutions and onwards distribution to deserving individuals.

DM Hub Stores of Hyderabad and Panoaqill have been readily distributed in Sindh to augment PDMA effort specially Dadu, Sanghar, Thatta, and Badin.

Pakistan Army has established over 200 free medical camps in different affected areas; 22000 patients have been treated.

60 relief camps and 11,000 individuals have been accommodated so far. 14000 non-flood items and 73,000 food packets have been distributed across the country.

Timely restoration of communication infrastructure by FWO in HQ 10 Corps AOR (KKH & JSR) in sync with NHA. 27,000 tents, 31,000 quilts, & 108,000 food packets were also distributed.

—The writer has remained associated with the Institute for Strategic Studies and ISPR

 

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