A day after the water level in Sindh’s Manchhar Lake rose to a “dangerous level”, a cut was made in the water body’s dyke on Sunday to release pressure.
Irrigation Special Secretary Jamal Mangan said that the cut was located at RD-14 Yusuf Bagh, describing the move as a “relief cut”.
Speaking to Dawn.com over the phone, the official, however, was unable to give an estimate about the cut’s size, saying that he had not yet visited the site.
- NDMA data shows death toll reaching 1,290, thousands injured since June 14
- 26 die, 11 injured in last 24 hours
- Cut made in Manchhar Lake to release water pressure
- Approx 125,000 people in 5 UCs to be affected by water release
- Met office predicts more rains in upper regions of the country
- Sindh, Balochistan, south Punjab to experience hot weather during forecast period
- Sindh CM reaches Sehwan to monitor situation
- USAID deploys disaster assistance response team to lead humanitarian response
- PM Shehbaz visits Balochistan’s Kacchi district, announces grants for labourers working on reconstruction operations
- PM Shehbaz appeals to Unicef and other global agencies for help
Engineer at Mancharr Lake, Mahesh Kumar, also confirmed the development and the location of the cut, saying it was done so because the water level in the lake had begun advancing towards populated areas.
The water that will be released from the lake at RD-14 will eventually reach River Indus, which is already in high flood, the peak of which has passed through Sukkur Barrage. Irrigation officials now hope that the river will start accepting water from the lake.
Officials decided to make the cut due to the critical condition of the lake’s dyke since last evening.
“There is strong wave-wash action triggered by strong winds,” said Superintending Engineer Mukhtar Abro.
Meanwhile, a fisherman Hyder said that the cut at RA-14 was “small in size”, saying the water would enter the river once the flow recedes. He said the cut was given near Arzi Goth and it would reach somewhere near Sehwan.
Sindh Information Sharjeel Inam Memon told journalists that the embankment cut was made on experts’ advice to save the district’s Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad towns.
“It was a difficult decision [but] it had to be taken,” he said. The minister said that approximately 125,000 people in five union councils would be affected by the water released through this cut.
He said the government had taken steps to ensure citizens were evacuated to safer places. He also disclosed that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had reached Sehwan as well.
Speaking to journalists in Sehwan, CM Shah said the controlled cut was made to divert water from Sehwan and to ease pressure on the lake. “Even my house in Bajara has been inundated after floods entered my village earlier where my father was born and now my second village will be inundated by water flowing in the wake of this controlled cut,” he added.
CM Shah said that Sehwan city was being protected and work would be done at Indus Link to save Bhan Saeedabad. He also said the government stood with the people in the five affected UCs.
He said he would review the planning for shifting and accommodating the affected people in camps, adding that he was in Sehwan to finalise this planning.
The chief minister added that flood fighting continued after two nights and the level remained at 123RL in the lake. “Its level was not disturbing for us but actually it was the wave-wash which was triggering the overflowing of the lake’s dyke”, he said.
He said Manchhar lake was Asia’s largest lake and no one could “stop water or fight nature”.
‘672,000 in relief camps’
Meanwhile, Memon also said that 563 deaths were reported in the province so far due to the disastrous floods.
Briefing the media about the current flood situation in Hyderabad today, Memon said over 672,000 people had reached relief camps, adding that dispensaries were also being established there.
The minister said that as many as 100,000 livestock animals had also perished.
He added that expecting mothers were also living in relief camps.
The minister said the Sindh chief minister’s own house would also be inundated but “he did not object to diversion of flows to his village”. He said “difficult decisions” were taken to save the larger population.
PM visits Balochistan’s Kacchi district
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Balochistan on a day-long trip and said the entire nation was working in unison to overcome problems which were very important.
Expressing his view in Kacchi district after getting a briefing from the relevant authorities over the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of road, rail and bridge infrastructure in the area, the prime minister said that it was a matter of satisfaction that all the people had been involved to overcome the enormous issues after the floods.
Appreciating the efforts of the district administration authorities and others, the prime minister said their commitment and devotion had been a source of inspiration for the general public.
He said that he saluted all those who had been involved in the relief and rehabilitation efforts. The chief minister and the chief secretary had been coordinating and working with all the relevant authorities, he added.
“It was your commitment to the nation,” he said, adding that their efforts would serve as a beacon of light for the people. “It is the teamwork that can yield results in trying times,” he opined.
PM Shehbaz announced a Rs5 million relief grant for labourers working there in the difficult situation and another amount of Rs1m for the staff that was working for the restoration of gas pipelines. He said a committee would be set up to dispense the amount on merit.
The prime minister said the floods had caused large-scale damage across the country, affecting all the provinces. About 1,300 lives were lost, livestock was swept away, and the economic and infrastructure damage was enormous.
In Kacchi district, the prime minister said recent floods had swept away the Bibi Nani bridge, disrupting traffic from Quetta to Sukkur and leaving about 6,000 people stranded on both ends.
He appreciated the National Highway Authority (NHA), law enforcement personnel and other authorities who restored the damaged bridge within eight hours, adding that they did a “great national service”.
Shehbaz said that when a catastrophe hit, the whole nation stood up and marched in unison by working hard to overcome the challenges. He announced Rs3m for labourers working on the restoration of the Bibi Nani bridge.
National Highway Authority Chairman Khurram Agha also briefed the prime minister about the restoration of the bridge. He said about 106 kilometres of the road around the Bibi Nani and Pinjar bridges were largely affected.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo thanked the prime minister for his visits and continuous support to the province’s flood-affected areas.
He also announced Rs2m for labourers and workers.
International aid and assistance also continued as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it was deploying a disaster assistance response team to lead a humanitarian response to the catastrophic flooding.
“This elite team is assessing damage, identifying priority needs and coordinating with humanitarian partners in the country,” USAID tweeted.
State-run Pakistan Television reported that the third flight from Qatar landed today at Karachi airport, carrying mattresses, pillows, blankets and medical items.
Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz urged the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and other global agencies to support Pakistan as climate-induced calamities had adversely affected the country’s children.
He said over 400 children were dead in the recent floods, making up one-third of the overall death toll.
Another 26 perish
Meanwhile, another 26 people died in the flooding, taking the total number of casualties since June 14 to 1,290. According to the update shared by the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC), 11 others were also injured during the last 24 hours.
The centre also said that a total of 80 districts had been declared calamity-hit, including 31 in Balochistan, 23 in Sindh, 17 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six in Gilgit-Baltistan and three in Punjab.
In a separate update, the NFRCC said that the Karakoram Highway (KKH) had been opened for light traffic after restoration at Zaid Khar.
“It will take some time for heavy traffic, however, transportation on light traffic including Babusar route is being used for fuel and essential commodities in GB as of now.” It added that Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) teams were working round the clock to restore heavy traffic throughout the length of KKH.
More rain expected
On Saturday, the Met Office predicted that upper regions of the country may receive thundershowers for the next three to four days, though Sindh, Balochistan and south Punjab are expected to experience hot and humid weather during these days.
According to the Met Office, weak monsoon currents from the Arabian Sea were penetrating the country’s upper and central parts.
Under the influence of this weather system, rain-wind/thundershower (with isolated heavy falls) is expected in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Murree, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Sialkot, Narowal, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Mianwali, Khushab, Sargodha, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Jhang and Faisalabad from Saturday night to Tuesday.
It further said rain-wind/thundershower (with isolated heavy falls) is also expected in Dir, Swat, Kohistan, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Malakand, Bajaur, Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Swabi, Nowshera, Kurram, Kohat and Waziristan on Sunday (today) and Monday.