AT the time of writing these lines, Quetta’s roads and streets are inundated due to the recent unrelenting rains. Nawa Killi, Sabzal road and Brewery road in the provincial capital are dotted with damaged mud and pucca houses and collapsed walls. Unlike Quetta, the rest of Balochistan lives largely in mud houses. It is getting disconnected from Quetta as time goes by.

Floods and unabated rains have wreaked havoc on the province. Some of the worst-affected places have hardly found mention in the media.

Nushki, a district bordering Afghanistan, is a case in point. Situated some 140km to the south-west of Quetta, it’s a picture of devastation. The floods have washed away a large number of mud houses in the district.

The most badly-hit towns are Batto and Killi Qadirabad.

According to Hafiz Abdul Samad, a councillor in Killi Qadirabad, over one hundred houses have been wiped out in his union council alone. “We rescued many people on our own,” he told Dawn.

“But as soon as we began the rebuilding process, a fresh spell of rains again wreaked havoc on our area. Our misery stands compounded.”

“Everything is gone,” says Abdul Rashid, who hails from Qadirabad. “We live in tents along with our joint family. The rain refuses to relent, filling us with doom and gloom.”

Haji Usman, yet another sufferer, says with resignation: “We are at the mercy of God.” His house was one among many that were washed away by floods in Batto, a town which lies on the Quetta-Taftan highway.

The place is now veritably a ghost town as most of the inhabitants have sought refuge in other areas.

Roads in the town are almost impassable. Most of the drivers do not use them. But Hashim had an emergency. “My wife was unwell,” he said, adding that “we took courage in our hands and decided to go to Quetta. At first it looked as though mud and water would swallow us. But thank God, we eventually made it to Quetta in one piece.”

Hashim implored the authorities to help the flood victims and restore highways connecting Quetta to other towns.

By and large, the entire Balochistan is in the throes of floods. Reports of devastation take time to come out of most parts due to their remoteness.

Musakhail district, in the upper region of the province, is one such place. Thirteen people have lost their lives here so far.

Many people are dependent on agriculture and livestock. “But floods have taken away all that from us,” laments Asghar while talking to Dawn. “Why was I alive to see this destruction in our village.”

Yasir Iqbal Dashti, the deputy commissioner of Musakhail, says: “The administration is not indifferent to the misery. We have rescued 700 people so far and accommodated them in government buildings.”

More than 300 families have been provided with relief goods, he added.

Second phase

The second phase of floods has further compounded the problems and woes of people in Balochistan. It has killed 12 people, and most of the deaths have been reported from Jafferabad, Barkan, and Khuzdar districts.

All the highway connecting Quetta with other provinces are either closed or suspended. “If we open one highway, the fresh floods and rains block it once again,” says a Quetta-based official.

“We have our representatives in all the district of Balochistan,” contends Younas Mengal, who is in charge of the control room of Provincial Disaster Management Auth­ority’s (PDMA) Balochistan chapter. “Along with local NGOs, we provide rations, tents and other rescue and relief operations to the flood victims wherever the flood has wreaked havoc.”

“Within June, July and August, 216 people have died due to floods in Balochistan while over 30 thousand houses are damaged,” he adds. “We are trying to reach out to flood victims in every nook and corner of the province along with the collaboration of district administrations and others.”

“If demands rise, we will request to higher authorities for the assistance,” he concludes. “As of now, NDMA (National Disaster Management Auth­ority) is also involved in the relief works in Balochistan.”

PDMA officials say FC and local administration are also participating in relief and rescue activities.

Saeed, a resident of Quetta, says his house was inundated with water on Sunday due to downpour at Chaman Patak, in Quetta. As a result, he has shifted his family to a relative’s house. “If it is the situation in Quetta, in the heart of city, one can assume what may others face in the far away corners of Balochistan, where there is no cellular network, let alone other facilities?” he says while discussing the flood situation in Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2022



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