Formulating a flood control mechanism | By Dr Muhammad Khan

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Formulating a flood control mechanism 

Flash floods in Pakistan have become an annual phenomenon which causes huge losses to human life, damage to property and infrastructure, besides causing destruction to crops and livestock at massive scale.

Indeed, Pakistan has a long history of the recurring floods and its consequent damages. The only escape, the successive governments present to alleviate the anxieties of the masses has been that, ‘this year floods have been caused by unusually high and intense rain-falls, which has never happened in the past’.

After few high level visits to flood affected areas and questionable distribution of rations and death compensations, the matter is closed until another occurrence.

Both, the government and the people forget the damages, caused by floods and more importantly, what essential actions to follow to avoid future losses as a result of flash floods.

The flash flood-2022 has caused huge loses in almost all parts of Pakistan. The province of Balochistan has been worst affected by heavy and intense rain-falls.

As per the estimates of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), over 550 people lost their lives in various parts of the country due to flood in last one month.

More than 46,200 houses have been damaged, dozens of bridges have demolished and thousands of kilometres of roads have been damaged.

Besides thousands of acres of land and standing crops have been damaged in the so for estimates.

As per NDMA, Pak Army and government agencies have set up aid and relief camps in flood-hit areas and providing facilities to affected people including their relocation at safe places.

Prime Shahbaz Sharif also stated that, “We’re doing our best to provide for extensive relief and rehabilitation of flood victims.

” The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Mr Abdul Qudoos Bezenjo however has said that, Balochistan needs more funds for the rehabilitation and relief thus, appealed to international organizations for assistance.

He said, “Our losses are massive” and there are severe food shortages in every district hit by the flooding.

More than 700 kilometres of roads have been washed away, causing disconnection between various parts of the province.

Compared to other flood affected areas, Balochistan needs “huge assistance” which must be provided by Federal Government, rather asking international aid agencies and NGOs.

Like past practices, these visits and relief operations would end in next few days with the provisions of relief goods and compensations without analysing the causes of floods and remedial measures needed to address those.

The maximum would be an accusation that, all is happening because of climate change, thus nothing can be done.

The Climate Change Ministry and NDMA wake-up during the moon-soon and visits the areas with luxuries.

Indeed, they have nothing to do throughout the year except enjoying perks and privileges with huge budgets which is never utilized at appropriate place.

Even during the current flooding as in the past, there has been more expenditures on the heavy pay packages and perks and privileges of concern ministries and organizations than what people of flood affected areas received physically.

In connection with flood control and to avoid the losses, there has been criminal negligence of successive governments in Pakistan.

This includes repeated sufferance of the people, their properties and huge infrastructural losses each year in in the low-laying areas of Pakistan.

Referring the past disastrous effects of the floods; the monsoon flood of 2010 caused death of over 1700 people, affecting over 20% of the land area, displacing more than 20 million people, and causing loss of billions of dollars by damaging standing crops, infrastructure, housing, agriculture and livestock all over Pakistan.

The 2012 flooding affects 4.85 million people in Pakistan, damaging 640,000 houses and huge infrastructure was damaged.

In August 2020, Karachi flooding killed at least 41 people across Pakistan.

The floods were caused by record monsoon rains, which were inadequately drained by poorly maintained drainage systems in the city.

In 2022, Karachi is facing same problems without any remedial measures and drainage system.

In fact, “Karachi doesn’t drown as much because of rain as it does because of criminal neglect towards governance of this city and a lack of understanding towards governance.

” It is unfortunate that, this city of over twenty million populations is suffering because of political conflict between PPP and MQM.

Unfortunately, no government has planned any mechanism to ensure effective measures to control the flood and its consequent losses.

There is an immediate need to work on a mechanism for controlling the floods in Pakistan.

The first and foremost requirement of this would be identification of areas for the construction of small and large water reservoirs and water storage dams.

These water reservoirs and dams would serve four broad objectives; a) stopping the rain water from flowing into low-laying areas which cause flood and destruction, b) utilization of this stored water for agricultural purposes throughout the year, c) water supply for drinking purposes and d) generating cheap electricity to overcome the power shortages of the country.

In summary, there is a need to formulate a flood control mechanism in Pakistan under an independent body which should be free of political or provincial influence.

This body should undertake emergency survey of areas where water reservoirs and water storage dams can be built, keeping in view the abovementioned considerations.

This body should consist of experts of related areas who can undertake the responsibilities with determination and foresight.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

 

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