Low-lying areas in Pindi inundated as twin cities receive heavy rain

Published June 19, 2022
(Clockwise from top) Vehicles pass through rainwater accumulated on Marrir Chowk, Rescue 1122 workers stand on alert at Gawalmandi bridge in Rawalpindi, a man pushes a broken-down van near PWD Colony while long queues of vehicles are seen on Islamabad Expressway during rain on Saturday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad, APP & Online
(Clockwise from top) Vehicles pass through rainwater accumulated on Marrir Chowk, Rescue 1122 workers stand on alert at Gawalmandi bridge in Rawalpindi, a man pushes a broken-down van near PWD Colony while long queues of vehicles are seen on Islamabad Expressway during rain on Saturday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad, APP & Online

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: Heavy rain lashed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad inundating low-lying areas on Saturday.

An official said there was no significant impact of the rain on the water situation in Rawal Lake because most of the downpour was not over its catchment area which is from Murree to Bhara Kahu. The water level at Leh Nullah rose to 6.5 feet at Gawalmandi bridge and to eight feet at the Kattarian bridge. Officials termed it a pre-alert situation for flooding in the nullah as the dangerous level starts at 22 feet and spillover from 30 feet.

In the city areas, the local administration and the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) officials monitored the situation in the nullah as per the standard operating procedure (SOP).

The Meteorological Department recorded 56 millimetres of rain at Shamsabad, 22mm at Chaklala in Rawalpindi, four mm at Zero Point and 22mm at Bokra, 13mm at Golra, three mm at Saidpur and Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad. It forecast more rain till the next 48 hours.

The Met Office said moist currents from Arabian Sea were penetrating into the central and upper parts of the country.

A westerly wave was also affecting upper parts of the country.

It said partly cloudy weather with rain-wind/thundershower was expected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir and northeast Balochistan. Heavy fall and hailstorm may also occur at few places during the period. Hot and dry weather is likely in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, it was another day to expose the performance of the Rawalpindi and Chaklalacantonmentboards and their preparedness to tackle a flood-like situation.

In Lalazar and other areas of the cantonment, the civic bodies failed to clear nullahs from solid waste. The closure of drains in many areas created a slushy mess.

An official said the Chaklala Cantonment Board failed to remove encroachments and clean nullahs and drains in the last two months even though there was warning from the Met Office of above normal rain.

In Lalazar, the district administration sent teams from Wasa and other civic bodies to drain out the standing rainwater. “Though four vehicles were trapped in the rainwater, the situation was under control,” said Rescue 1122.

Wasa Managing Director Mohammad Tanveer visited the area and inspected the drainage work on Murree Road, Sadiqabad, Nadeem Colony and Committee Chowk underpass.

He said after the prediction of heavy rains, the agency had imposed a rain emergency in Leh Nullah and surrounding areas.

Five flood response units were established at Moti Mahal, Liaquat Bagh, Commercial Market and Khayaban-i-Sir Syed. The sanitation staff equipped with water sucker machines will remain on the post round the clock, he added.

Water level in Rawal Lake

While almost all parts of the country were facing a drought-like situation, the water storage situation in Rawal Lake is better than the corresponding period of last year.

A senior official of the Punjab Irrigation Department told Dawn that the rainfall during the night between Thursday and Friday had helped maintain the water level at the lake with the inflow and outflow of 25 million gallon daily (MGD).

The reservoir is one of the key sources of water supply to Rawalpindi city (23 MGD), while two MGD is also supplied to the CDA for Islamabad.

However, there was no significant impact of Saturday’s rainfall on the water position in the lake because most of the downpour was not over its catchment area which is from Murree to Bhara Kahu.

Currently, the water position in the lake is sufficient to maintain the supply for more than a month, said the official. He said the water level in the lake was 1,744.7 feet which was 63 per cent of the total capacity. The water level was 1,742 feet in the same period last year.

The maximum capacity of Rawal Lake is 1,752 feet and the authorities believed that regular cloudy weather would help reduce the water evaporation from its surface.

“It is expected that another small rain spell in Murree hills on June 20-22 will help replenish the water storage in the lake,” the official said, adding the regular pre-monsoon rains were expected to start in three weeks.”

The situation in the Rawal Lake was contrary to the water condition in almost all parts of the country where many areas were facing drought-like conditions.

Due to the constant inflow from streams coming from Murree, the water level has not even dropped to 50 per cent of the lake’s capacity in June this year.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

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