FLASH floods from powerful torrential stream Nai Gaj has ravaged kaccho area of Johi. The late night high flow on Aug 8 inundated more than 100 villages. Exact losses can be gauged once water recedes and communication channels open up.

But keeping in view the destroyed crops, the dead livestock, and the destruction of tube wells and home appliances, losses could run into billions. It is a pity that authorities concerned never learn a lesson.

The huge losses in men and material caused by Nai Gaj flood of 1995 are still fresh in memory. Torrential stream floods are different from a riverine-related flood. This flood comes rapidly and gives little or no time for evacuation. To avoid losses, an early warning system and standby rescue infrastructure like boats and helicopters should have been in place. Despite repeated warnings by the metrological department, little preparations were made.

Furthermore, roads, diversion bunds, culverts and other infrastructure are built with traditional methods with substandard material, whereas the situation demands higher techniques.

During the British era, there was a strong early warning system. But today, despite advance communication and engineering technology, people are left only to guess about the volume of the flood. In the absence of authentic official information, rumours create panic among the people.

The provincial irrigation minister, the local MPA, the deputy commissioner, and district irrigation department officials have camped on the flood protection bund and are monitoring the situation, while the army has also been involved in rescue work. But these laudable activities were conducted after widespread damage was done. Why do not the stakeholders work regularly and in time to avert such disasters?

The people of kachho always pray for rain and Nai flow as a blessing but the authorities’ inaction turns this blessing into a blight.

A citizen
Johi

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020

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