Pakistan is prone to natural calamities. Of such disasters, floods are the most frequent ones. Every monsoon season the chances of flooding increase manifolds. The unusual rains this monsoon and India’s release of water into River Sutlej have resulted in the rising water levels in the river. Now that water level of Sutlej is rising as Punjab’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) warns, the situation can turn hostile.
Indeed, the prevention of floods is not practical; however, protection from floods and managing them are possible. And given that there is almost no control in Pakistan over Sutlej, therefore, the authorities need to take more than the standard protection measures to protect human lives and properties.
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has already responded to the warnings by the PDMA by summoning an emergency meeting. The focus of the meeting will be on protection measures against the flood. At the end of the session, instructions will be issued to the deputy commissioners and commissioners of districts to be on their toes. However, will the drill work? So far, it has not worked satisfactorily. Given that this is not CM Punjab’s first meeting in this regard, he should have a fair idea of what improvements can be made in the government’s response to such floods by now. It is evident that the typical preparations of the authorities fail to protect people’s lives and properties as our experiences with floods have revealed time and again.
Likewise, the PDMA in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) has also warned the provincial deputy commissioners about India’s opening of the water of Alchi dam. Hopefully, the authorities must have taken the protection measures. But will the steps be enough to protect people from the floodwater?
Nevertheless, authorities in both provinces need to be vigilant to deal with any emergency. Also, the provincial governments should leave no stone unturned in providing relief to those bearing the brunt of these floods. Furthermore, it is about time for the state to take an integrated approach to flood management on a national and regional level. Such an approach will help the government in reducing the loss of human lives and properties.
Considering the operational experiences that Pakistan has gained while dealing with disasters of different magnitude, any mishap, if it happens, will be unfortunate. Were that to happen will mean that Pakistan still lacks the will and capability to manage floods. The urban floods in Karachi have already exposed Sindh’s inability to deal with unusual downpour. The floods that will hit Punjab and KP provinces will be the test of provinces’ governance capabilities.