Anger as Balochistan’s remote areas await help

Published August 8, 2022
Flood-affected people protest in Awaran’s Jhao area over non-provision of relief items.—Dawn
Flood-affected people protest in Awaran’s Jhao area over non-provision of relief items.—Dawn

QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: As rescue and relief operation in Balochistan’s flood-hit districts continued, people in many far-flung areas were still waiting for aid from the government and welfare organisations.

On Sunday, six more rain-related deaths were reported in different areas of Balochistan, taking the total numbers of casualties to 176 in the province and over 80 injured.

Homeless and without food and drinking water, hundreds of people in Jhao and other areas of Awaran district protested on Sunday against the administration’s failure to launch relief operations. The land route of the district with other areas of the province remained cut off due to washing away of bridges and link roads.

Protesters gathered at the main road linking Jhao to Karachi suspending traffic. They placed road blocks and chanted slogans against the district administration.

They alleged that despite being badly affected by rain and flash floods, relief goods sent for Awaran district were distributed to other areas.

More rains, flash floods across the country predicted this week

While talking to Dawn, Obaidullah Umrani, a local Balochistan Awami Party leader, said that injustice in distribution of relief goods and aid was unacceptable and there should be an equitable distribution among all affected people.

“Standing crops and date orchards have been destroyed by floods and people were deprived of their livelihood,” he said, adding that roads were not fully restored between Awaran and Karachi which resulted in food shortages in Mashkey, Jhao, Gajjar and other areas.

Shops were running out of food items and other daily use items, he added.

He also demanded Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudus Bezenjo to take notice of this “injustice” and provide relief goods to flood victims in Awaran.

Reports from Mashkey also painted a grim picture as people were still reeling from the devastation left behind by flood and torrential rains as several areas were still inundated with flood water, creating hurdles in rescue and relief operations.

Kalat Division Commissioner Muhammad Dawood Khilji and Awaran deputy commissioner visited flood-hit areas in Awaran on Saturday and directed the authorities concerned to speed up relief and rescue operations in the area.

“Kalat division was badly affected by floods which caused massive destruction in Lasbela, Khuzdar, Mastung and other areas,” said Mr Khilji while adding that the government was making all out efforts to provide maximum relief to people.

He said that thousands of people who were rendered homeless in Hub and other areas of Lasbela district were moved to tent cities.

Nasirabad Division Commissioner Fateh Khan Khajjak, along with Base Commander Shahbaz Airbase Asim Raja distributed 1,000 bags of ration among displaced families in Goth Pilyani area and also provided medicine to 614 patients.

The situation in Jhal Magsi and Nasirabad was improving as more rains were not reported in the area. We have already distributed 2,500 bags of ration in Nasirabad division so far and established medical camps,” Mr. Khajjak said.

As several parts of the country were still reeling from the devastation left behind by previous spell of torrential rains, Flood Forecasting Division (FFD), on Sunday issued an advisory, warning of more flash floods and urban flooding in several cities between Aug 10 and 14, adds APP.

According to the advisory, a low pressure area formed over northwestern Bay of Bengal was likely to become more marked in the upcoming days while mild moist currents from both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal continue to penetrate into upper parts of the country up to 4,000 feet.

Monsoon activity was likely to become vigorous during Aug10 to 14 over Sindh and Balochistan. However, the upper half of the country and southern Punjab will have a relatively less intense activity from Aug 10 to 13.

Furthermore, isolated to scattered thunderstorm and rain may also occur over Punjab’s Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur divisions; Sindh; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; eastern Balochistan and over upper catchments of rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej during the same period.

Heavy rains may generate urban flooding in Karachi, Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad, Mirpurkhas, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Nowshera and Mardan divisions, the advisory added.

Flash floods were also expected in nullahs of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Shakargarh, Sialkot, Narowal, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Dir, Karak, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Qilla Saifullah, Loralai, Barkhan, Kohlu, Musakhel, Sherani, Sibi, Bolan, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Awaran, Turbat, Panjgur, Pasni, Jiwani, Ormara Gwadar and some areas of Azad Kashmir.

Catchment areas of Ravi, Jhelum and Chenab rivers may receive heavy downpour, which could significantly increase the water level, while scattered thunderstorm and moderate rain was also expected over the upper catchment of River Indus, during the next 24 hours.

Water level normal in rivers

The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has said that water level has returned to normal in all main rivers except for River Indus which was flowing in medium flood at the Guddu-Sukkur reach.

According to FFC’s daily report on Sunday, the combined live storage of Tarbela Dam, Mangla Dam and Chashma Barrage was 7.837 MAF —58.22 per cent of the total 13.461 MAF capacity.

Separately, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Sunday released 246,500 cusecs water from various rim stations with inflows of 303,000 cusecs.

According to the data released by Irsa, the water level in River Indus at Tarbela Dam was 1,540.31 feet — 142.31 feet higher than its dead level of 1,398 feet. The water level in River Jhelum at Mangla Dam was 1,162.50 feet, while the release of water at Kalabagh, Taunsa and Sukkur was recorded as 97,700, 124,200 and 350,100 cusecs respectively.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022

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