RAWALPINDI, Aug 25: Heavy rains on the night between Friday and Saturday raised the water level in Leh Nullah up to 19 feet, just three feet below flood level, causing the dwellers of low-lying areas to pass a sleepless night.
Due to the rains, portions of old and dilapidated houses collapsed in the cantonment areas. However, no loss of life has so far been reported.
The city district administration and Rescue 1122 remained on high alert to deal with any emergency.
The meteorological department recorded 89 millimetres (mm) of rain in Islamabad and 69 mm in Rawalpindi, and forecasted isolated rains in the twin cities in the next 24 hours. Rain started at 12:30am and continued till 3am. The continuous spells of rain exposed the tall claims of city district government that it had cleared all hurdles in the nullahs and drains for the smooth flow of water.
The sewerage system in downtown and the area adjacent to Leh Nullah entered houses and shops.
People had a tough time in draining out water as many parts of the city including Bazaar Kallan, Dingi Khoi, Raja Bazaar, Akalgarh, Nadeem Colony, Javed Colony, Dhoke Ratta and others areas were submerged under one and a half feet water.
The shades of an old vacant house near Railway Station collapsed in the night.
“The house was lying vacant for last 15 years and nobody was living in this house,” said Kamran Khan, a neighbour, while talking to Dawn.
He said the people of the mohallah saw the debris of the shade lying on the street in the morning.
“Thank God, nobody was hurt. We brought the matter before Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) but the civic body turned a blind eye on the issue.
“The house owner should repair or demolish the house as it became a constant threat for the lives of the residents and children playing in the street,” he said.
Other people of the area also expressed their sentiments over the sorry state of affairs in cantonment areas.
During a visit to different areas near Gawalmandi, Marrir Hassan, Pirwadhai, Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, this reporter observed that most of the slum dwellers had left their houses for safer places fearing that their houses could collapse during heavy rain last night.
Most of the slums comprise mud houses and dwellings made from logs, straws, dry grass and tattered clothes and plastic sheets.
These houses have no proper drainage system and are prone to the threat of collapse.
Some slum dwellers were seen drying their belongings on the roads, near Khyaban-e-Sir Syed, Pirwadhai and Dhoke Dalal.
“We left our houses along with our children at midnight as Leh Nullah was swelling very fast and had no option but to take shelter at a veranda in a nearby market,” said Sajjad Hussain, a slum dweller at Khyaban-e-Sir Syed.He said that some people took refuge at Pirwadhai bus terminal, under bridges, shelters and under-construction houses.
He said civil society should come forward to help such people, especially during such weather and heavy rain.
Muhammad Ali, a slum dweller, said that he could not stay in his slum house as it had been filled with rainwater. He said rain always brought misery to the slum dwellers.
Sughran Bibi, a slum inhabitant who along with her three children took shelter at Railway Godowns verandas at Railway Road, said that due to risk of house collapse, she had brought her children to a safe place. She said two walls of her house had leaned due to weight of wet soil and water.
District Officer Solid Waste Management Dr Mazhar Azeem told Dawn that the water level in Leh Nullah was recorded 19 feet at Gowalmandi and 16 feet at New Kattarian.
However, he said that the rain water did not come out over the banks due to low rain in the city.
He said that in the past, the water from Leh Nullah was accumulated at Javed Colony, Nadeem Colony and other adjoining areas but on Saturday night, the situation was satisfactory as these areas were not inundated with rain water.
However, he admitted downtown area was inundated due to choked sewerage system. He said that the sewerage system in the city was old and outdated and need replacement.