ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was informed on Thursday that at least 165 climate disasters, including dozens of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), were reported in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa between June and September 2022.
In KP, 11 glacial lake outbursts and 43 flash floods were reported that claimed 59 lives and damaged a 200 KW local power station in addition to damaging four bridges and destroying a 300 feet protection wall. The flooding also damaged multiple water supply schemes and irrigation channels.
Similarly, the climate change ministry briefed the meeting headed by Senator Seemi Ezdi that at least 64 suspected GLOFs and 47 flash floods/heavy glacier melting were reported in Gilgit-Baltistan, which killed seven people. The GLOF events destroyed 60 bridges, over 75 irrigation channels, and affected 720 houses besides destroying an 18 MW transmission line tower.
The meeting commenced with a discussion on the steps taken by the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF-II) project in reducing flooding risks and preventing casualties.
Officials of the GLOF-II project apprised the committee that they operated in 10 districts of Gilgit Baltistan, eight districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and added that their primary work included issuing warnings to locals regarding floods, creation of community-based disaster risk management centres, awareness sessions, creation and maintenance of gabion walls and irrigation channels to mitigate the flood damages.
The ministry said that procurement of an early warning system was in the process which would provide exact data about floods and would be helpful in preventing the loss of life and property in the northern areas.
1,412 killed in floods
The senate body was also briefed by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) about the total damage caused by recent floods and funds and assistance received by the government of Pakistan from the international community for the flood-affected areas.
Officials of NDMA told the committee that, as of September 11, 2022 evaluations, as many as 1,412 persons had lost their lives and the numbers were rising. Around 1,749,532 houses had partially or completely been damaged and an estimated 771,141 livestock had been washed away in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, GB, and KP in the unprecedented floods.
They further added that Rs3.3 billion in donations had been received in the relief fund set up by the prime minister.
Senator Taj Haider said the construction of check dams and a revival of natural waterways was necessary to reduce the disastrous effects of the floods.
Ministry of Climate Change also briefed the senate committee about the National Hazardous and Waste Management Policy. Deliberating on the matter of the recent incident of forest fire in KP, Senator Ezdi stated there was a dire need to preserve forests owing to their importance to the ecosystem. She also directed the secretaries of the forest department of all four provinces to brief the senate body about their policies and efforts in this regard.
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2022