Most of the gypsies residing in the Ravi bed have not moved to safe places despite the rising water level. — White Star / M. Arif
Most of the gypsies residing in the Ravi bed have not moved to safe places despite the rising water level. — White Star / M. Arif

LAHORE: Without prior warning, India on Monday released over 100,000 cusecs of water into River Sutlej, inundating vast areas in Kasur district and spelling a human and farming crisis on both sides of the river bed.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) had on Sunday issued 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.

Referring to the video broadcast of Ludhiana deputy commissioner in India on Sunday morning, the PDMA said the discharge of Sutlej had attained the quantum of 240,000 cusecs downstream Bhakra Dam by superimposing effect of 55,000 cusecs discharge by the spillways of Bhakra Dam and additional quantity added by the rivulets Sisewaan and Sawan. The PDMA further estimated that a discharge of 10,000 cusecs from Pong Dam will be added to Sutlej at Harike Headworks, generating net discharge of 250,000 cusecs upstream Harike Headworks.

In the absence of official information, the PDMA had predicted that the effects of the discharge would start reaching Ganda Singh Wala on Monday morning.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was informed about the release of water by India at a hurriedly called meeting and told that over 100,000 cusecs could likely pass through Ganda Singh Wala on Tuesday. The government has set up 81 relief camps in Kasur and other districts.

Relief camps set up, evacuation begins, precautionary steps reviewed to facilitate villagers

The CM directed for completing all precautionary measures in Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Lodhran, Vehari, Pakpattan, Okara and Kasur districts. He directed for ensuring evacuation of people from the riverbed and their relocation to safer places.

Mr Buzdar directed the irrigation and disaster management ministers to monitor the situation by visiting Kasur, Okara and other districts, adding that the irrigation secretary and PDMA director general should also monitor the relief activities personally. He said that he would also visit different districts to monitor the measures and relief activities.

The chief minister said the federal and provincial departments should maintain a close liaison and stay vigilant to deal with any emergency. The district administrations should personally monitor the arrangements for dealing with any possible flood. The inflow and outflow of water should continuously be monitored and availability of medicines, vaccination and fodder for animals ensured, he asserted.

Punjab Irrigation Secretary Dr Ahmed Javed Qazi briefed the meeting about the situation in Sutlej, while the PDMA chief briefed about precautionary measures and availability of necessary tools and equipments.

Provincial ministers Mian Khalid Mehmood, Mohsin Leghari, secretaries of specialised healthcare and medical education and primary and secondary healthcare departments, livestock and rescue departments officials and others attended the meeting. Punjab minister Hashim Dogar, commissioners of Sahiwal, Multan and Bahawalpur divisions and deputy commissioners of Okara, Pakpattan, Bahawalnagar, Vehari, Bahawalpur and Lodhran attended the meeting through video link.

KASUR: The district administration has started preparing to deal with the repercussions of the swelling of Sutlej. Army and Rangers personnel have joined the flood teams. The administration has started convincing villagers to evacuate, while Rescue 1122 is providing transportation to over 300 villagers.

According to flood control centre, the water level at Talwar post was eight foot, while a low-level flood starts at 14 feet. Similarly, water level at Keekar post was 18.5 feet, which was below the low-flood level there.

The water flow near Mustayki village on Monday night was 28,000 cusecs, while it was about 30,000 cusecs at Pattan village. Bhikiwind village was also vulnerable due to a narrow riverbed.

Provincial minister retired Col Hashim Dogar and Lahore Commissioner Asif Bilal Lodhi visited the villages to review precautionary measures and ordered to facilitate the affected villagers and their livestock.

BAHAWALPUR: The irrigation department on Monday issued a high alert for people in the riverine areas of Sutlej in the district, said Irrigation Executive Engineer (Exen) Javed Tariq on Monday.

Talking to Dawn, the Exen said a warning had been issued to the dwellers on the banks of the Sutlej. He said the Punjab government swung into action following social media posts about the release of the water on Sunday night. It had asked authorities to take all preventive measures and asked the people of rural areas along the banks of Sutlej to move to safer places.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Shozeb Saeed, at a meeting he chaired here on Monday, directed the assistant commissioners of all five tehsils to immediately complete the arrangements to set up relief camps for the affected people in the riverine areas and shift the population, if affected, in any area.

BAHAWALNAGAR: The district management has issued a high alert to all departments to deal with a possible flood in Sutlej river.

According to Deputy Commissioner Shoaib Khan Jadoon, an emergency plan was devised to deal with flooding in the river’s vicinity, adding that 15 flood relief camps had been established in these areas. Orders had also been issued to shift people living along the river belt to safe locations, he added.

Minchinabad Assistant Commissioner Rashid Iqbal told Dawn that due to their proximity with Head Sulemanki, the river belt areas in Minchinabad were severely affected by floods. He said that 72 mouzas lied along the river belt affecting 372 families, adding that focal persons had been designated to inform these people about flood threats. Announcements had also been made through mosques to urge people to shift their belongings and cattle to safe locations. He also said that officials from the health, livestock, agriculture and Rescue 1122 were available at the five flood centres to deal with any emergency. Any possible flooding would affect thousands of acres of rice paddy and cotton crops, he added.

Due to a threat of flood, an army contingent had been deputed along with rescue officials to an area of the Minchinabad river belt.

SAHIWAL: The level of water in upstream and downstream of River Sutlej at Head Sulemanki was recorded at 24,345 and 12,567 cusecs, respectively on Monday noon.

The water released from India was likely to reach Head Sulemanki within 48 hours. The local administration has issued warnings to residents of 22 villages in Pakpattan district. Flood warning messages were conveyed to locals through mosques, revenue and irrigation staff.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2019