THE monsoon season, associated with heavy rainfall, is back, reviving the painful memories of the devastation caused by torrential rains and frequent flooding in the last decade. The first monsoon showers in the country the other day set off flash floods in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and deluged several villages near Pasrur in Punjab. Many parts of cities like Lahore, Sialkot and Gujrat were submerged following the first spell of the summer rains. At least four people, including two minor girls, reportedly lost their lives in flash floods in KP, while a boy was electrocuted after light rain in Karachi. The loss of life and property inflicted by the monsoon rains highlights the unpreparedness of the administration across the provinces to meet the challenges posed by the expected heavy rainfall over the next couple of months. This is in spite of the widespread destruction and loss of life brought upon by the increasing flooding — flash and urban both — almost every year since 2010. Thus, it is not surprising that fears of flooding again loom large with the onset of the new monsoon spell.
After the deadly floods of 2010, which had affected more than 20m people in 78 districts and killed over 2,000, the authorities vowed they would protect the life and property of citizens and fortify the country’s resilience to natural disasters. Not much was done, however. More recently, over 400 people lost their lives last year in flash and urban flooding that affected a population of nearly 1.1m besides damaging thousands of homes and destroying economic infrastructure in the country — mostly in Karachi and the rest of Sindh. There is no evidence that any lessons have been learnt. The country still remains unprepared to face the challenges of a downpour in cities, let alone flooding from overflowing rivers and rainwater drains even though the cost of preparing safeguards pales in comparison to the losses the monsoon causes every summer. What will it take to rouse the authorities from their apathy?
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021