More rain forecast as authorities scramble to clear flooded roads in Lahore

Updated 11 Aug 2020

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Motorcyclists use footpath as the Allama Iqbal Road is flooded after heavy rain. — White Star / Aun Jafri
Motorcyclists use footpath as the Allama Iqbal Road is flooded after heavy rain. — White Star / Aun Jafri

LAHORE: Roads, streets and even alleyways here faced major urban flooding on Monday as heavy downpour lashed the city on Monday morning.

The deputy commissioner’s (DC) spokesperson, Imran Maqbool, told Dawn there was no issue regarding water drainage, and Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) Vice Chairman (VC) Sheikh Imtiaz claimed the rainwater had been drained within hours.

Mr Maqbool said the DC had directed all the assistant commissioners to be present in the field and ready for any eventuality. He said they had been sent to check all the dewatering points from where excess water was diverted to drains. “The drainage was fine overall,” he claimed.

Throughout Monday, however, people took to Twitter to post pictures and videos of rainwater accumulating in areas including Gulberg, Shalimar, etc.

As per Met Department data recorded at 11am, the highest rain was recorded in Tajpura (107 millimetre), followed by Johar Town (105mm), Pani Wala Talab (101mm) and the airport (82.8mm). Other areas with high rainfall were Gulshan-i-Ravi, Nishtar Town, Lakshmi Chowk and Upper Mall.

On some of these roads water had accumulated up to the knees. On top of this, social media users accused the electronic media of not giving enough coverage to the “flood” in Lahore.

But pictures shared by Wasa VC Imtiaz showed water being drained. Firdous Market (which is dug up to build an underpass) showed ankle-deep water, which was apparently drained within two hours. He also tweeted a video of a water tanker in Lawrence Gardens, which was being filled from an underground storm water storage tank on Lawrence Road.

“This water will be used for horticulture in Bagh-i-Jinnah,” he commented in the tweet. “Now millions of gallons of aquifer water will be saved by using storm water stored in the tank.”

He also claimed that rainwater had been drained from all low-lying areas of Lahore.

A source said that water ponding takes time to clear. “There are about 25 to 30 sore points around the city and every time it rains, rainwater always collects at those points without fail, for example Lakhsmi Chowk,” he said. “After that water lifts have to be brought in to suck the water out, which is then diverted to Ravi river through the drains.”

Met Department Director Ajmal Shad had something similar to say. “The water lines were bad and could not take more load. The sewerage lines are old, and basically everything needs to be reorganised,” he stressed.

He said they had already issued a pre-monsoon warning to all departments about a chance of heavy urban flooding this year. These months were crucial in terms of managing rainwater, he added.

“Even today, we are expecting more rain at night or tomorrow, in fact, there is lightning in some areas of Lahore,” he said. “This was one spell, and its tail is still expected. Next week is also sensitive in terms of heavy rain, in fact this situation will carry on for a month as July and August are both monsoon months. Humidity, heat and the heat index also increase during these months.”

Shad also said that normally the Walled City presented the worst picture of rainwater accumulated on roads, as it did not have a main drainage system. “The balance there is always disturbed because several people live in crowded spaces and usage of water is more; the underground system is old and should be revived as it cannot take so much pressure and volume of water.”

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020