Dawn News

A stitch in time

POLITICIANS have a penchant for large-scale projects as they associate these with an impressiveness they believe will earn them political capital. But very often, what voters actually need are smaller, more humdrum interventions that are, in fact, of crucial importance. Nowhere is this more visible these days than in the plight of those affected by the floods in parts of Balochistan and Sindh. For the third year in a row, the state waited until the floods were in full swing before taking action. Each time, the rains are preceded by reminders that canals need to be de-silted, natural storm-water channels cleared, embankments shored up and vulnerable populations prepared in case evacuations are needed. And each time, the administration refuses to recognise the danger. It is only when newspaper headlines start raising concerns about the millions of people affected and television screens show shots of forlorn rooftops in a sea of floodwater that the state lumbers to its feet and starts casting about for avenues of relief and rehabilitation.

After the deluge, national leaders give statements about their concern for those whose homes and livelihoods have been lost — as though it were never up to them to ensure that pre-emptive damage-control measures are in place. In the current floods, Balochistan’s Naseerabad and Jaffarabad districts have been the worst-affected; on a visit to survey the damage, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Sunday that orders had been issued to release funds to complete all development projects in the province. He also announced that Rs2.6bn had been earmarked for the rehabilitation of people and repair of infrastructure. Given the prime minister’s instructions, we can presume that the funds must be available with the government. In that case, could at least part of the money not have been spent earlier on work aimed at reducing the scale of flooding? Could projects meant to mitigate rain-related havoc not have been completed on a war-footing?

The measures that need to be taken to save this area, which has for three years running been the worst-affected by the floods, are well-known. The Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts are particularly at risk. They suffer equally as a result of flash floods in Balochistan and when canals are accidentally or by intention breached in Sindh. The measures elaborated here, as well as the creation of small reservoirs to accommodate excess water, could go a long way in making a difference. The question is, will such necessary though not headline-grabbing measures ever make their way to the list of the government’s priorities?

Comments (6) Closed

Sep 25, 2012 06:42am
The deluge would come and go on and on, and our rulers would harp on the same string as they always do. This has been the very common custom to make fake promises by politicians and in the end they say oh! I eat my words back. Rather soothing grievance and grief of flood-ridden masses, politicians add insult to their injuries by doing nothing proactively. This doom and gloom of flood and other natural calamity has to stay with our society for longer time untill ingenuine and hypocrate politicians would rule over the society.
Khan Amna
Sep 25, 2012 02:47pm
yeah its true that our government it least interested in country's developmental issues. its priorities are just self survival
Sep 25, 2012 02:16pm
Year in , year out.The same old story.Floods come, the government opens it's mouth of what it will do.Floods subside and the "mouth' closes.Relief is offered during floods.As if this will solve the problem.No long term plans. If there ever were, the money for reconstruction during it's journey somehow in large parts "slips' away.After all, what and to whom can the poor take their cause when those responsible to help them are the ones siphoning the money.So as usual , floods come, and floods go.Promises made but not kept.This is Pakistan.
Harvey G
Sep 25, 2012 11:08pm
i wonder who elects them
Iftikhar Husain
Sep 25, 2012 10:32am
How right the editorial puts it the government forgets about disaster as soon as the flood goes away and do nothing till next time it comes and it is too late. The people go on suffering without any help.
M. Asghar
Sep 25, 2012 10:30am
The editorial analysis is pertinent, though such analysis has been done many times in tthe past without any effect on the governmen's lack of action when neeeded, simply because it is completely disconnected from the affairs of the state and passses all of its time in feudal self-survival