Flood fury again
The sleepy River Sutlej stirred with a furry after India released over 100,000 cusecs of water, that too without any warning, following monsoon rains. Given the scale of the downpour, it was a matter of time before flooding swept the areas around the riverside. As the floodwater entered Pakistan at the Kasur district point, it spelt a crisis for the residents on both sides of the river bed. With the passage of the time, the water level is rising and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has already issued a significant flood forecast for River Sutlej, stating that the range of net discharge passing through Ganda Singh Wala would be 125,000 cusecs to a maximum of 175,000 cusecs. On the other side of the border, the flood fury is 240,000 cusecs downstream Bhakra Dam. Its trickledown effects are enough to inundate farms along the river from Kasur to Head Punjnad in Muzaffargard where the river ends up into the River Chenab. The PDMA made predictions about the flooding just based on Indian media report, even though India is bound to share information on flood level in the rivers entering Pakistan.
Whenever rivers flood there will be water everywhere resulting in displacement of people and livestock besides destruction of farms, houses and other infrastructure. The government has set up 81 relief camps in Kasur, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Lodhran, Vehari, Pakpattan and Okara. The government must ensure evacuation of people from the riverbed and their relocation to safer places, and irrigation, health and disaster management departments should monitor the situation round the clock. Flood means disaster, and in such a situation, provinces and the centre must work together to ensure rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the affected people. Also, the inflow and outflow of water should continuously be monitored. If there is need, army contingents should be involved in rescue and relief operations too.
So far, there is normalcy in Indus, Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi, though the water level in these rivers and their tributaries is constantly rising. Pakistan is no stranger to flooding every summer. It, however, needs to develop means to conserve river water to ward off the crisis in case there is an abnormal monsoon. In the last three years, we have not received sufficient rainfalls, which triggered water shortage. In the absence of any government policy on conserving water, it was left to a serving chief justice to take up the cause of dam construction. *
Call from White House