How to manage flood and drought in Pakistan | By Ch Muhammad Latif

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How to manage flood and drought in Pakistan

THE writer invited the attention of the Government of Pakistan to the forthcoming catastrophic of devastating floods vide his article titled “Saving every drop of rain water- select better option” published in several English dailies including Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, dated March 10, 2022.

It was specifically stressed that the latest studies conducted by the UN experts reveal that climate threat to Pakistan is acute with 40% of population likely to be severely affected.

Despite early warning systems and a history of natural disasters, Pakistan has never paid much attention to climate change.

Pakistan ranks 8th among countries most vulnerable to climate crisis although it contributes less than one percent to global carbon emissions.

Many eminent scholars and experts on the subject of climate change have been emphasizing the gravity of the climate change with feasible and plausible suggestions to deal with the threat of floods and drought in Pakistan.

The versatile writers include Imtiaz Rafi Butt, Raja Shafaatullah, Waqas Nasrullah, Kamran Yousaf, Muhammad Ali Falak, Hassan Aftab and Raja Shahzeb Khan.

The said intellectuals and intelligentia have been making appeals to the Government to adopt ways and means to harness the blessing of rain water and thereby safeguard the interest of the nation.

The response of the Government, however, has been disappointing as they have added another department designated as “Climate Change” with a Minister and other necessaries.

The Government is oblivious of the fact that there are already so many departments dealing with water and disaster management, check dams, irrigation, artificial recharge wells, and small lakes.

The only need is to cool all existing resources on a war-footing, otherwise the tragic phenomenon will confront us every year.

A few months ago, the forest fire in Balochistan turned over 30% pine trees into ashes. Similar tragedies took place in Kotli and Bhimber districts of AJK last year where forest fire caused colossal damage to valuable forests including painful death of a forest guard in the Bhimber district.

Had there been lakes in these forests the fire fighting could be easier and more effective in addition to other inherent benefits of these small water reservoirs.

So now the strategy of the forest department of indulging in formal annual exercise of plantation functions should be replaced by construction of lakes as many as possible, phase-wise and space retrieved by the reclamation of water courses should be filled with suitable fruit trees.

Having said that the writer feels that matter is not insurmountable. The efforts should be two pronged.

The rain water storage solutions like artificial lakes in every village, city, forest enclosures, housing projects and artificial ground water recharge wells would help manage rain water, control floods and ensure the supply of water during the predicted drought in the year 2025.

A healthy campaign should be launched on national level to motivate the public at large. The support of Government departments with effective coordination in the field, in rural areas, in Barani vast tracts, school teachers, scouts, religious leaders, local NGOs, on the one hand, and paving way for the unity of thought for the construction of Kalabagh Dam, which is naturally constructed dam on three sides and needs to be taken up sooner the better.

The personalities nursing misconceptions may be prepared to reconsider their policy in view of the devastation of 2022 floods knocking at their doors.

It can help reduce the damage and help store excess water for irrigation during the months of needs.

The Kalabagh Dam project would help immensely in controlling flood water, generating electricity and improving our irrigation system.

In housing sector, the supreme head of Bharia Town Malik Riaz Hussain, has setup an ideal model of housing schemes, which has definitely contributed for an admirable image of Pakistan to be followed by other entrepreneurs and in catering for housing needs of the growing population.

He also generously contributed not only in national social activities and disasters, but his organization approached Rohingya Muslims community in Bangladesh as well.

Malik Riaz Hussain should undertake on a top priority basis, building of artificial lakes in every housing project in each sector as many as possible and feasible treating as a step to prevent floods calamity in the country in future.

Besides, he should sponsor plantation of fruit-bearing trees. Lakes in housing schemes must precede the construction work because the presence of lakes would reduce the construction cost and facilitate vegetation and vegetables.

The housing projects accomplished by Malik Riaz Hussain, unfortunately, have developed fruitless trees in twin cities as described centuries ago, in Mughal Empire, about Rawalpindi, (Kullo Ashjar bila asmar).

This practice still continues in twin cities. Leaving aside local fruitful trees like Mango, Lemon, Orange, Jaman, etc, the Islamabad authorities, in the sixties, imported trees from abroad which are causing annually dreadful disease of allergy to its residents.

All the housing schemes have been planting ornamental trees which policy should be reviewed.

An on-the-ground study in twin cities would show that there are beautiful and wonderful sights for natural lakes.

In Gulberg Green Scheme Islamabad where houses have been built but the beautiful and vast lake sights have not yet been undertaken.

—The writer is former Additional Chief Secretary of AJK and currently practicing lawyer of Supreme Court.

 

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