Devastation in Neelum Valley


MONSOON downpours have started playing havoc. The first victim became the Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu & Kashmir this time with flash floods triggered by heavy rains have reportedly claimed twenty-eight lives whilst many more are reported to be missing and stranded in their houses. The rains have also caused damage to hundreds of houses and the communication infrastructure.
Whilst rescue efforts have been launched in the flood affected areas, it is for the federal government to provide the necessary assistance to the AJK Government to cope with the calamity before the situation further worsens and causes more death and destruction. Those displaced by the flood should immediately be shifted to the safer places and provided with relief goods including tents. As monsoon rains are also lashing other parts of the country, it is important that the National Disaster Management Authority as well as Provincial Disaster Authorities remain alert to deal with any emergency at the earliest. With change in climate patterns, there is already threat of Super Flood in certain districts of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Despite severe flooding in 2010 and the subsequent years in which the country suffered losses of billions of dollars, it is lamentable that nothing concrete was done to enhance the capacity of disaster management authorities at the federal and provincial levels nor to adapt to the floods with the construction of necessary infrastructure including the dams. As the frequency of floods has increased over the years, there is need to fully implement the recently developed National Flood Protection prepared with estimated cost of Rs 332 billion. As the Council of Common Interests (CCI), has approved the plan, both the federal and provincial governments must contribute their shares so that we could protect our communities and infrastructure from the destruction of floods. The focus must remain on building adaptation and resilience to the climate change. Since the cost for this is very big, the international community must fulfil its commitments regarding climate change and help Pakistan in building the necessary infrastructure.