ISLAMABAD: After a gap of around six months, the Flood Forecasting Warning System (FFWS) Network for the Leh Nullah has been restored before the onset of the monsoon season.

The system became inoperative in November 2015, as the Frequency Allocation Board had allocated the frequency of Leh Nullah flood warning system to the Islamabad Safe City Project.

“As the same frequency was allocated to the other project, the radio telemetry early warning system at Leh Nullah became un-functional,” an official of the Met Office told Dawn. “But the interior ministry and the Frequency Allocation Board took the matter lightly, but now that the monsoon is set to arrive in a few days, the matter has become very serious.”

The frequency was returned to the Leh Nullah flood warning system the other day, after the intervention of the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Maj-Gen Asghar Nawaz.

Operated by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the early warning system works at the radio telemetry system.

The Met Office has also predicted monsoon rainfall that could be 20pc higher than usual this year.

The flood warning system for Leh Nullah was completed in 2009, and data on water discharge and flow in streams is transmitted through electromagnetic waves to around 10 departments. Rising flood data is received at once at the Met Office, the Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner Office, 1122 Rawalpindi, City Government Rawalpindi, the Federal Flood Commission and others.

“The automated system was installed with the support of the Japanese government after the devastating 2001 floods in Rawalpindi, when 65 people perished in Rawalpindi and nine persons were killed in Islamabad,” said NDMA spokesperson Ahmed Kamal.

Mr Kamal, who is also the architect of the system, said prior to its installation residents of low-lying areas in Rawalpindi, such as Dhoke Ratta and Gawalmandi, had a warning period of eight to 10 minutes for evacuation.

Since the installation of the FFWS, warnings are available up to 90 minutes before the main thrust of flash floods.

Under the FFWS, automated monitors are installed at the various places from where water courses, bringing rainwater towards Leh Nullah, including the rain flood gate station at Saidpur, Bokra, Golra and Chaklala.

The main water level gate stations are at Katarian and Gawalmandi in Rawalpindi.

The system has four indicative colours: blue for normal, orange for pre-alert, red for alert and purple for evacuation.

Under the system, sires start blowing automatically at various warning points, as soon as the water level reaches red, allowing authorities and residents to prepare for safety measures.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2016

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