— Dawn
— Dawn

KASUR: Despite a slight reduction in the River Sutlej water levels on Sunday, an extremely high-level flood continued to devastate villages in Kasur and Chunian.

As per the district administration’s report, the flood has impacted 186 villages so far—96 in Kasur and 84 in Chunian.

The downstream water flow of the Sutlej at Ganda Singh registered 208,973 cusecs on Sunday, a decrease from the 269,000 cusecs measured on Saturday.

According to Rescue 1122 sources, over 25,000 people have been evacuated, and 117,386 villagers have been provided with boats for transportation. Also, up to 13,139 heads of cattle have been relocated to safer areas.

In response to the rising water levels, the district administration had already imposed Section 144 to ensure the orderly evacuation of residents.

The situation worsened on Sunday as several new villages experienced flooding due to breaches in the embankments protecting them from the river.

Villagers, including Saifullah, Muhammad Sarwar, and Bilal Ahmed, said that they had been trying to reinforce the embankment of their village, Walaywala, for the past three days. They had informed the district administration about the deteriorating condition of the embankment and requested machinery assistance, but their pleas went unanswered.

Expressing frustration over the district administration’s inaction, which appeared limited to photo sessions, they said that the embankment collapsed on Sunday. This breach led to floodwaters inundating Walaywala and other nearby villages, such as Rasoolnagar, Kujianwala, Fattiwala, and Kilchay.

Other villages in Chunian and Ganda Singh, like Jagowala, Rajiwala, Mokal, Sheiranwala, and Hakowala, have also been adversely affected due to the leakage of weak embankments.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army has launched extensive relief efforts in the affected areas.

According to an official handout, Lahore Corps Commander Lt-General Syed Aamir Raza conducted an aerial assessment of the affected regions and issued directives for all possible relief actions. The flood-impacted areas include Ganda Singh Wala, Dhap Sari, Ghati Kalanger, Ullake, Jamae Wala, Kamalpur, Bakarke, and Najabat.

The day-long operation continued to evacuate thousands of people from the flood-hit areas and relocate them to safer locations. The army’s rescue teams remained engaged in relief activities using boats. Thousands of affected families were provided with 16 tons of free rations, which included essential items, such as flour, lentils, rice, ghee, and milk.

Distribution of rations continued in flood-stricken areas like Talwar Bridge, Tathi Bakhshi, and Najabat. Furthermore, arrangements were made to provide necessary medical assistance to flood survivors. These relief operations will continue until the flood situation improves and normalcy is restored in the affected regions.

BAHAWALPUR: Up to 76,000 people along with their animals and belongings have been evacuated so far from the flood-threatened areas of the River Sutlej in Bahawalpur district.

Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman visited the riverian areas of Mari Qasim Shah and Mochiwala Bund near the city on Sunday. He was briefed with the help of maps that rescue and relief camps for the evacuated people have been established in the riverian areas and a survey for damaged crops by the flood is in progress.

The governor said that the district administration had effectively tackled the first flood wave in the River Sutlej with its well-planned strategy and that the affected people should not face any difficulty in the ongoing wave.

He said that the protection and safety of the people from the flood threat was the top priority of the government and that the district administration of Bahawalpur and all the government institutions and departments were active in providing help to the needy people.

However, the governor stressed that all the government departments should work under a unified strategy to ensure the protection of flood-threatened areas and save their inhabitants, and that they should take urgent measures in this regard.

According to an official handout, the governor asked the administration to take effective measures to strengthen over 30 dykes in the area.

The governor also met with the local residents and assured them that their problems would be solved.

OKARA: The ongoing floodwater flow is considerably larger than that experienced during the floods of 1988 and 1995 in the Sutlej River. An additional 450 people were evacuated, bringing the total number of evacuees to 1,300 on Saturday and Sunday. The deputy commissioner (DC) briefed the Sahiwal commissioner that despite a high flood warning, many residents were reluctant to leave their localities, even after repeated visits and the presence of prominent figures such as landlords.

The Pakistan Army and Rescue 1122 have been actively utilising boats and staff around the clock to assist in the evacuation process, given the substantial floodwater currently present in the Sutlej River.

During a visit to Attari village, the commissioner said the health, livestock, and other related departments should take effective relief measures. Notably, these teams had successfully relocated 220 cattle from the affected downstream areas. The commissioner expressed gratitude for the cooperative spirit displayed by the local community and landlords in facilitating the rescue of individuals from these heavily impacted areas.

The commissioner ordered the administration to communicate with local residents and urge them to evacuate the high-risk zones.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2023

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