![ .FARMERS use a boat to transport milk in a flood-affected area on the outskirts of Multan, on Sunday.—AFP ](https://i.dawn.com/large/2023/07/64b4a28abee9a.jpg
)SAHIWAL/LAHORE: At least 300 families from more than 20 villages in Pakpattan and Arifwala tehsils were evacuated as River Sutlej experienced a “moderate” flood, inundating farmlands and nearby areas, prompting the authorities to deploy hundreds of rescuers.
According to authorities, water flow at Sulemanki Headworks was at 87,583 cusecs downstream and in case of more influx, the intensity of flood could increase from moderate to high. On Sunday, the water level continued to rise.
In Pakpattan district, several villagers complained that the district administration and rescue personnel were not helping the locals stranded in tiny settlements on the floodplain on both sides of Sutlej. They also claimed the administration was not providing them with food in the emergency camps established at 12 safe spots.
Due to flooding, many crops, including cotton, maize and rice, cultivated on hundreds of acres of land, have been destroyed. A number of mud houses also crumbled after river water entered the localities.
In one village, people were building dykes to keep the water from entering their fields. Many villagers feared that if the embankment at 5 KB village collapsed, then Kalay Chishtian, Ferozpur, Mari Anbh and Bablana villages would be gravely impacted.
The villages from where residents were rescued include Malik Bahwal, Pir Ghani, Jahniyan, Hasan Asoo, Malee ke Tora, Kot Langha, Basti Noul etc.
408 rescuers deployed
As the meteorological department forecasts thundershowers in upper and central Punjab districts in the next 24 hours, Provincial Relief Commissioner Nabeel Javed said that the Head Sulemanki area was experiencing a moderate flood, with both the inflow and outflow of water recorded at 77,665 cusecs.
“High alerts have been issued for the districts connected to Head Sulemanki, including Pakpattan, Vehari, and Bahawalnagar. In response, rescue and flood relief camps have been established in these districts. A total of 408 rescuers, equipped with 135 boats, life jackets, life rings, wireless sets, and other machinery, are actively engaged in rescue operations in the areas adjacent to the Sutlej River,” he explained in a meeting held in Lahore on Sunday.
The relief commissioner stated that 26,248 individuals have been “safely relocated from the flood-affected areas” along the Sutlej belt. Additionally, efforts have been made to evacuate 1,643 animals, and the necessary equipment and personal belongings of the affected people are being transferred to secure locations.
The commissioner said that the floodwater was expected to reach Head Islam in Hasilpur tehsil within the next 60 hours. Instructions have been issued to make necessary protective arrangements for the districts connected to Head Islam, including Bahawalpur and Lodhran, he added.
He said that all districts have an adequate supply of machinery, food hampers, tents, and other essential resources. “As of now, the situation is under complete control, with no reports of any human casualties caused by the floods. The government departments possess the necessary capabilities to handle any emergency effectively,” he concluded.
The flood water was rising in Sutlej and Ravi and the district administration along with Rescue 1122, health and livestock departments were vigilant to combat the situation.
Flood alert in AJK
In Azad Kashmir, state authorities issued an alert regarding the possibility of floods in various parts of the region.
According to the state-run APP, heavy rains were expected at various places, including the plains of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the occupied region.
In light of the forecast, people were advised to adopt precautionary measures by staying away from the rivers, water channels, and seasonal nullahs which could overflow because of the impending heavy monsoon rainfall, “much above the expectations”.
The State Disaster Management Authority with the help of local authorities also decided to set up emergency flood-monitoring centres in all AJK districts, reported APP.
These centres were “fully equipped and vigilant to deal with any untoward situation following the much-predicted devastating monsoon rains”. The APP said that the district-level emergency cell control room would soon be functional at the DC office in Mirpur. It added similar centres were being set up at all the deputy commissioner offices in all ten districts of the state as well as tehsil headquarters.
The emergency cells would also be set up in all sub-divisions of the districts. “With the required staff, these centres would…be vigilant round the clock… [to take] immediate necessary steps in case of emergency…,” APP added.
Aslam Piracha in Okara also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2023