Water level begins to subside in parts of Sindh as nationwide death toll from floods nears 1,500

Published September 15, 2022
<p>This image shows water in several areas of the Dadu district. — DawnNewsTV</p>

This image shows water in several areas of the Dadu district. — DawnNewsTV

<p>This image shows the water flowing through a breach in Main Nara Valley Drain on Thursday. — Photo provided by Qurban Ali Khushik</p>

This image shows the water flowing through a breach in Main Nara Valley Drain on Thursday. — Photo provided by Qurban Ali Khushik

The water level in the Main Nara Valley Drain (MNVD), commonly known as Right Bank Outfall Drain-I, at RD-10 upstream Manchhar Lake, started to decrease on Thursday as officials confirmed the intensity of floodwater also subsided to some extent in Dadu district.

However, they would not take any chances and said they would maintain a strict vigil on the drain to stave off any emergency.

Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed 1,486 since June 14, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damage estimated at $30 billion.

Both the government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding, which submerged nearly a third of the country.

Sindh has been particularly hit hard, with the province's Manchhar Lake — the largest freshwater lake in the country — witnessing a surge in its water level in recent days as floodwaters from the north and hill torrents from Balochistan flow southwards, leaving behind a trail of deaths and destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless by flooding in Sindh, with many sleeping by the side of elevated highways to protect themselves from the water.

"We have been buying tents from all the manufacturers available in Pakistan," Sindh's chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in a statement on Thursday.

Still, one-third of the homeless in Sindh don't even have a tent to protect them from the elements, he said.

Over the last few weeks, authorities have built barriers to keep the flood waters out of key structures such as power stations and homes, while farmers who stayed to try and save their cattle have faced a new threat as fodder has begun to run out.

Dadu Assistant Commissioner Shahnawaz Mirani told Dawn.com that at least one foot had decreased at different places of the MNV drain.

He said the water level in various villages in Dadu was also decreasing with each passing day for now.

Separately, Dadu Deputy Commissioner Syed Murtaza Ali Shah said the discharge of water from the MNV drain into the Manchhar Lake was continuing and expressed hopes the the water level would further decrease in the days to come.

A view of stagnant floodwater in Dadu city. — Photo by author
A view of stagnant floodwater in Dadu city. — Photo by author

The DC said the locals and the civil administration were constantly monitoring the MNV drain so as to deal with any emergency.

According to the official in charge of the irrigation cell for Manchhar Lake, Sher Mohammad Mallah, water was being released from the lake into River Indus through the LS Dam.

"The water level in Manchhar has decreased from 121.9 feet RL to 121.7 feet RL."

An engineer of the provincial irrigation department, Mahesh Kumar, told Dawn.com the water pressure was also easing on the ring bund of Bhan Syedabad.

Situation in Mehar

Mehar Assistant Commissioner Mohsin Shaikh told Dawn.com that the water level at the ring bund of Mehar had decreased by a foot.

He said a similar decrease had also been witnessed in the surroundings of Khairpur Nathan Shah and Johi areas.

Sheikh, however, said the relief and rescue works were still under way in Dadu district.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had on Wednesday said that there was seven to eight million acre-feet of water from Kashmore and Jacobabad to Jamshoro.

"We have to release it to River Indus through Manchhar Lake," he told a press conference in Karachi today. He added that the lake also had 1.3m acre-feet of water.

Meanwhile, the situation of the water flow at Guddu and Sukkur barrages in the Indus River is normal.

According to a Flood Forecasting Division report, the Inflow of water at the Guddu Barrage is 166,431 cusecs and the discharge is 153,656 cusecs.

President Alvi announces Rs50 million for flood-hit families in Sindh

Later in the day, President Dr Arif Alvi visited relief camps in Nawabshah and met people who lost their houses to floods. He also surveyed several areas of Sindh and overviewed the situation of flooding.

In a media talk afterward, he said that most of the province was submerged in water. "Approximately 80pc of the crops have been destroyed, houses have been washed away and there is water everywhere you see," he noted, adding that it would take a while to pump out the water.

Subsequently, Alvi announced Rs50 million in aid for the flood victims on his behalf and urged philanthropists to step forward and help the people in need.

The president also lauded the armed forces and civil administration for diligently working to provide relief to the flood victims.

Sindh CM's surprise visit to flood-hit areas

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah conducted surprise visits in four districts of Hyderabad division to inspect the situation of flood affectees in camps.

“I have come here to see you without informing the district administration so that I can witness in which conditions you are living, how much relief goods you are receiving, and how much attention is given to your problems,” he told the affected people.

He started his visit in Thatta district where he directly went to visit Gel Mori camp, near Pir Patho. He interacted with the flood affectees there who told him that they were provided with ration bags and water but doctors visited them only once in the beginning.

The chief minister talked to the district health officer (DHO) and directed him to ensure visits to the camps twice a week.

On the way to Moraki bund of the River Indus, the chief minister visited a government primary school in Gel Mori. He visited different classrooms and sat with children and interacted with them frankly.

The children told the chief minister that their school does not have electricity. At this, CM Shah announced to solarise the school and vowed to visit them again.

He then went to the Gel Mori Basic Health Unit. When he reached there around 150 patients, mostly the flood victims were getting checked. The doctor present told the chief minister that most of the patients were suffering from malaria and skin diseases.

On the last leg of Thatta's visit, CM Shah went to the embankment of the River Indus known as Gulel Area where a camp was established along the bund. The chief minister met people there and had his blood pressure checked as well.

One person told the chief minister that five flood-affected people had died during the last 15 days. At this, the chief minister expressed his displeasure with the DHO and the district administration for not taking proper care.

The chief minister concluded his visit to Thatta district by visiting the Moraki embankment and the camp set up there. He met with flood affectees and issued directives for resolving their issues to the deputy commissioner and DHO Sujawal.

CM Shah also similarly visited Sujawal, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin districts.

Health crisis

This year's devastating floods have paved the way for a health crisis, with several health facilities damaged and various diseases on the rise in flood-hit areas.

Dadu District Health Officer Dr Ahmed Ali Samejo told Dawn.com today that the health department had set up 20 medical camps in the districts and the People's Primary Healthcare Initiative 12.

He said 78,000 patients had been provided treatment at medical camps in the last 15 days, and army and Rangers personnel were also providing healthcare assistance at these camps.

Meanwhile in Jamshoro, District Health Officer Vinod Kumar said 9,666 patients were under treatment at government hospitals amid a cholera outbreak in the region.

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