LAHORE: As the second spell of monsoon starts, Punjab expects “moderately above normal” rain fall, and braces for urban flooding in cities on the foothills of Kashmir (Sialkot, Narowal) and those falling on the banks of Jehlum and Indus rivers.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), during the first monsoon spell (July 1-15), the Punjab received 46.9mm rain against normal 42.3mm – or eleven percent more. The country received 198.90 millimeters rain during the last monsoon and is expected to receive 140.80mm this year, according to a presentation given by the PDMA to the minister concerned during his visit to the authority.

“The Punjab may get heavy rains in the catchments of rivers Jehlum, Chenab and Indus on Tuesday and Wednesday and all streams leading to them. It may cause moderate flooding in river Indus, and high flood in Jehlum and Chenab. Heavy rains are expected in the catchment areas of Sutlej, Bias and Ravi rivers, as well and may cause low,” claims the presentation.

According to the PDMA (flood) alert, it will be “fairly widespread rain with heavy falls at scattered places, very heavy fall at isolated places and extremely heavy falls at one or two places in catchments of the three western rivers.

Explaining the pattern of rains, an official of the Punjab Irrigation Department, who did not want to be named because he was not officially allowed to speak on the subject, says the department is fearing cloud burst in the next three days in the catchment area of river Jhelum, producing 300,000 cusecs of water. However, he says, it is not sure where would it happen? If it happens above Mangla Lake, it would help improve much needed storage in the dam, reeling some 60 feet below the planned level and giving sleepless nights to the Punjab planners. But, if it takes place below the lake, it may cause flooding, but still improve availability of water for the country, he adds.

“On a positive note, the rains, though heavy, are not widespread; they are scattered and less than 100 millimeters in most of the places, as far as the current prediction goes. In flooding terms, it means a manageable situation, even in urban flooding terms,” he says.

MINISTER: Unlike the past government’s practice of idly waiting for floods and then receiving foreign aid, the PTI-led Punjab government had taken concrete measures to overcome the threat of monsoon floods, provincial Minister for Disaster Management Authority Mian Khalid Mahmood claimed at a review meeting held at the PDMA head office on Monday.

In this regard, he said, the irrigation department was provided with ample resources to clean and repair various lakes and nullahs (seasonal drains) in the province. Along with it, encroachments had also been removed and all arrangements were ready to relocate the population from low-lying areas to safer places, conduction of relief and rescue operations and provision of first-aid facilities during the floods, he said.

Similarly, he said relief and awareness camps had been set up in different districts by respective Water and Sanitation Agency officials and the concerned field administrations. After the success of the underground water storage tanks in Lahore, approval had been granted to construct such underground reservoirs at more than seven places to store rainwater, he said, adding that rain was a natural process and the government was taking solid steps for the safety of the people.

The minister apprised the participants that the meteorological department had predicted torrential rains in various parts of the country from July 20 to 26. Torrential rains were expected in adjoining areas of Chenab, Jhelum and Sindh rivers on July 20 and 21, he added.

The relief commissioner told the participants the cleanliness of canals and nullahs was complete at various places to avoid flooding. He said the PDMA control room was monitoring the flood situation round the clock and in case of any untoward situation, immediate relief activities and damages were estimated. Similarly, he said, the PDMA had also organised an awareness campaign.

The DCs of Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Khushab, Gujranwala and Sheikhupura apprised the minister of the arrangements in their districts. The minister expressed satisfaction over the arrangements and directed them to remain fully vigilant during Eid holidays.

He asked the people to cooperate with the government’s line departments and follow their instructions to avoid any damage to life or property. PDMA director general and others were also present.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2021

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