HYDERABAD: Amid threats that rising level in Manchhar Lake would flood densely populated Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad areas, authorities on Sunday made a “relief cut” in the dyke to allay the pressure that had been building since Saturday.
Meanwhile, ‘citizen committees have been formed at taluka levels to oversee relief efforts as over 672,000 people have been moved to camps all over the Sindh province.
The cut, made at RD-14 Yusuf Bagh location, will inundate the union councils of Jaffarabad, Channa, Arazi, Bubak and Wahur, which is also the constituency of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and his village is also located there.
The decision to give the cut was made as the increasing water level had already imperilled the dykes since Saturday evening due to strong wind.
Breach to allow water flow into Indus; over 672,000 move to camps; minister says ‘controlled cut’ aimed at saving Sehwan, Bhan Saeedabad
On Sunday morning, Sindh Special Secretary Irrigation Jamal Mangan confirmed the development to Dawn over the phone. However, he didn’t give any detail about the size of the cut, saying he has not visited the site.
According to officials, the cut made between RD-14 and RD-15 will allow water to eventually reach Indus River — something not happening for the past two days as the river was flowing in ‘high flood’ between Sukkur and Kotri barrages.
As the lake received water from Main Nara Valley Drain — also called Right Bank Outfall Drain-I — on Saturday, the water level rose to 123.2RL, making the dykes vulnerable to breaches.
Earlier, irrigation officials had said that 25,000 to 30,000 cusecs water was easily flowing from the lake into the river when it had not attained high flood levels. But later, the flows dropped to 15,000 and then further to 10,000 cusecs.
An official said that small cuts are a standard practice to allay pressures as water flow gradually erodes the sand and widens it.
Ghulam Hyder, a fisherman, told Dawn that the cut was given near Arazi Goth near Sehwan and the water will enter the river once it starts receding.
Talking to reporters in Sehwan, CM Shah said the “controlled cut” in the lake would save the city which was under threat.
“Even my house in Bajara has been inundated after water entered the village where my father was born,” said Mr Shah, adding that now his second village will also be inundated due to the cut.
Reuters reported that the cut will save densely populated areas and will displace up to 100,000 people in the five union councils.
The decision to make the cut had to be taken to save Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad cities where a population of 300,000 lives, Sindh Minister for Information, Transport and Mass Transit, Sharjeel Inam Memon said.
Addressing a press briefing at his residence on Sunday, Mr Memon, who is also the focal person for rain emergency in Hyderabad, said that decisions to make cuts were being made after taking all stakeholders into confidence While briefing on relief efforts, the minister added that more than 672,000 people are staying in relief camps all over the province.
He said dispensaries were being established in relief camps, while pregnant women were being moved to hospitals.
The government has decided to place orders for ration bags with private vendors as the Utility Stores Corporation was being slow, having procured only 8,000 bags against the target of 115,000, he added.
Mr Memon said once the water receded the process of dewatering would be initiated.
Short-term and long-term policies were being made for the rehabilitation of affected people, he said, adding that infrastructure would be restored in the first phase and in the second phase, assistance will be provided to help people rebuild their houses.
Meanwhile, to streamline relief efforts, citizens’ committees with civil judges as their heads have been formed at the taluka levels in some districts to set up tent cities and monitor the relief efforts.
The committees will oversee arrangements like provision of relief goods, food, and other necessary items. They are mandated to take strict actions against those pilfering or selling relief items.
The committees will also visit breached dykes and ensure dewatering of inundated areas.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2022