Another ‘cut’ in Manchhar as water threatens airport

Published September 6, 2022
JAMSHORO: A couple evacuating their lakeside residence carry their belongings out of a hut after floodwaters entered their village, on Monday.—Online
JAMSHORO: A couple evacuating their lakeside residence carry their belongings out of a hut after floodwaters entered their village, on Monday.—Online

HYDERABAD / ISLAMABAD: A day after a ‘relief cut’` was made to reduce the water level in Manchhar Lake, the irrigation department made a fresh cut on Monday night in a bid to save Dadu and Jamshoro.

As water from the overflowing lake reached Sehwan airport and a nearby oil pumping facility, the cut was made at RD-52, in a bid to save the two cities, Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Farid­uddin Mustafa told Dawn.

Officials said that more cuts might be needed to manage increasing flows from Main Nara Valley Drain (MNVD) or Right Bank Outfall Drain-I.

Reports from the area suggested that the runway at Sehwan’s Shahbaz Airport was under one foot of water while the Pak-Arab refinery located in the area was also inundated.

PM enhances relief budget to Rs70bn; says resilient infrastructure needed to withstand calamities

The water from the lake has already submerged around 100 villages in Bubak, Jaffarabad, Wahur and Dal union councils of Sehwan, after a cut was made at RD-14 on Sunday.

The decision to make the cut had become a compulsion for the officials as swollen Indus river was not taking in the water from the lake and MNVD. As a result, the water had risen to precarious levels, making the dykes vulnerable to breaches.

“MNVD is bringing heavy flows to the lake, which is not accepting these flows,” an officer said on condition of anonymity, adding that the continuous discharge from the drain into the lake was building pressure at Dadu, upstream of MNVD.On Sunday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had said that the “unwanted decision” had become unavoidable as the lake was overflowing from the banks.

As flooding continued in Sindh, rumours started making rounds on social media that protection dykes in Balochistan’s Nasirabad division were deliberately breached to divert floodwater to Sindh.

However, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo refuted the allegation, and discussed the issue with the Sindh chief minister, offering a probe by a joint investigation team into the matter.

PM visits Sindh

QAMBAR SHAHDADKOT: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari distribute relief cheques among flood-affected families on Monday.—PPI
QAMBAR SHAHDADKOT: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari distribute relief cheques among flood-affected families on Monday.—PPI

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the flood-hit areas of Sukkur and Qambar-Shahdadkot on Monday, where he was also briefed about the precarious situation at the lake.

Accompanied by PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other officials, the prime minister took an aerial view of Qambar-Shahdadkot.

During his visit, Mr Sharif announced to expand the budget for the relief and rehabilitation of flood affected people to Rs70 billion.

“The money would be disbursed through Benazir Income Support Programme,” Mr Sharif said, adding that every family affected by the flood will get Rs 25,000.

During his visit to one of the relief camps, Mr Sharif distributed cheques among the flood victims.

The prime minister thanked the UAE, Qatar, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, China, the USA, Iran and other countries for “generously supporting Pakistan” in this difficult time.

He said that planes carrying flood relief items were landing in Pakistan, while Turkiye has dispatched four trains carrying flood relief items.

Earlier, the prime minister arrived at the Sukkur airport where he was received by Mr Bhutto-Zardari, Mr Shah and provincial ministers.

The prime minister also took an aerial visit of flood hit areas in Sukkur.

The foreign minister, who was with Mr Sharif, said the destruction caused by floods was “the worst tragedy in the country’s history” as millions of people have been affected and rendered homeless.

Pakistan has paid a heavy price for climate change, the foreign minister said, adding that the international community has to unite in this fight against climate change.

Comprehensive plan to deal with floods

After his departure from Sindh, the prime minister visited the recently established National Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Centre (NFRRC) in Islamabad.

During his visit, Mr Sharif said Pakistan needed an effective rainwater drainage system and resilient infrastructure to deal with such calamities in the future and issued directives for the formation of a committee to review the existing water drainage systems.

He vowed to prepare a robust National Flood Control Plan (FCP) with the help of international experts.

Mr Sharif also urged the provincial chief secretaries to ensure effective implementation of zoning laws and regulations on land use along the rivers.

A joint survey by National Disaster Management Authority, Pakistan Army Engineering Corp and provincial disaster management authorities provincial revenue departments is being done to ascertain life losses and the scale of damage in the flood-hit areas, the prime minister said.

The prime minister was briefed that the NFRCC was implementing a three-pronged strategy of rescue, relief and rehabilitation to minimise the damages.

Qurban Ali Khushik in Dadu, M.B. Kalhoro in Larkana and Waseem Shamsi in Sukkur also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022

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