KARACHI: Pakistan’s chief meteorologist has attempted to allay fears of widespread flooding for the second consecutive year, saying “normal rainfall” was expected betw­een July and August 2023.

His statement came a day after the National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Inam Haider Malik said there was a 72 per cent probability that 2023 will see floods of the same intensity as 2022.

The chief meteorologist, Sardar Sarfraz, predicted around 133mm of rainfall which was unlikely to cause flooding. But he added that because of climate change, predictability has become uncertain.

He was speaking at a seminar titled ‘Will Sindh submerge again?’ organised by Sindh Development Watch and Sindhi Association of North America (Sana) at Karachi’s Arts Council on Thursday.

Says normal rainfall expected; experts call for infrastructural uplift to mitigate disasters

The Met chief said there were four to five factors including extreme heat, which trigger heavy rains and recalled that flooding and rainfall had occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2022 after hot weather.

He said the length of winter was shrinking as up to 10 cold nights have decreased even in Quetta while the duration of summer was expanding.

Infrastructure constraints

He said the World Meteorological Organi­sation forecast and other studies reported that Sindh would not submerge this year.

Pakistan was among the countries at risk of floods but much destruction app­e­ared to be the outcome of poor infrastructure.

The met chief regretted there were only 195 weather observation stations across the country when there should be one every 30 kilometres.

With help from the World Bank, 300-400 ‘automatic weather observatories’ would be established, he said.

The chief engineer of Sindh’s irrigation department, Zarif Khero, said the provincial government was conducting a study with help from China for rainwater storage in Thar.

He said as compared to 2010 when floods were caused due to the river’s flow, the inundation in 2022 was due to unprecedented rains in Baloc­histan from where the water entered Sindh through hill torrents.

Engineer Naseer Memon suggested that developing ‘escape canals’ on the right bank of the Indus river, increasing the capacity of Manchar Lake, maintaining dykes near major cities and providing cross drainage structures at existing roads could help avoid flooding.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2023

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