Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice Maqbool Baqar on Saturday directed the local government to improve the quality of ongoing rehabilitation work at Manchar Lake, which is being conducted under a World Bank project following last year’s devastating floods.
He issued these directives while visiting areas near Manchar Lake, including the flood protection bund along the lake and the canal systems in Jamshoro District.
The World Bank’s Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project was approved in December last year after the monsoon superfloods had wreaked havoc across the country, especially Sindh and Balochistan.
It aims to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and provide short-term livelihood opportunities in selected areas of Sindh affected by the 2022 floods, as well as strengthen the provincial government’s capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.
The flood protection bund is an embankment that begins from upper Sindh and ends at Manchar Lake in order to protect the area from hill torrents’ water flows during monsoon season.
Today, CM Baqar also issued directives that the height of the bund be raised after he was told that its height was being revised to six feet higher than the last flood level of 2022. He was informed that by raising its height, it would become a channel to safely bring higher flows of water during monsoon to Manchar Lake.
He observed that the quality of work should be further improved considering the fact that the province’s economy depends on the agriculture sector, and therefore, a well-performing irrigation system was essential.
The CM inspected the development work at the Aral Wah Canal, whose bed has been widened and a new regulator with 14 gates is being built to have a revised designed discharge capacity of 52,000 cusecs, up from 10,000 cusecs.
Meanwhile. Sukkur Barrage Chief Engineer Sardar Shah briefed the chief minister about the development works under way, stating that the Shahbaz Irrigation Division was badly affected by last year’s floods.
CM Baqar was further told that the de-silting of the Danister and Aral Wah canals was being carried out while construction of a protection bund in Jhangara town was also underway.
The irrigation officer informed the CM that the process of converting three pumping stations on the Indus Link to solar power was under way as well.
The Indus Link is a drain that would connect the Right Bank Outfall Drain-II with Right Bank Outfall Drain-I once RBOD-II is completed.
A pumping station at the tail end of Dadu Canal, which emanates from the Sukkur barrage, was also undergoing development work.
The chief minister was further briefed that Rs399m were being spent on constructing protective dykes in various areas of Jamshoro’s Manjhand town while Rs150m would be spent on the pumping station there.
An amount of Rs204m would be spent on repairing Dadu canal’s regulator while work had also been initiated to restore the Danister and Aral Wah regulators under a 12m project.
Property ownership given to 51 people
Meanwhile, CM Baqar distributed sanads (proprietary rights documents) among 51 flood-affected people at a ceremony held at the Sehwan Fort.
The chief minister also inspected reconstruction work on houses damaged during the 2022 floods, where he was informed that around 2m houses had been destroyed as a result of the floods.
The flood-affectees informed the CM that they had received a first instalment worth Rs75,000 and a second instalment worth Rs100,000 whereas another Rs25,000 would be given to them as the third and last instalment now.
During his visit to the Arazi Rural Health Centre (RHC), CM Baqar expressed his anguish at the state of affairs there. The Arazi RHC works under the administration of the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI).
At a separate briefing held at the Jamshoro deputy commissioner’s camp office about development projects in the Hyderabad division, the CM was informed that around Rs70.6b were being spent on 276 road schemes while Rs7.16m were being spent on 154 building schemes.
The chief minister told officials that development projects of an important nature would be executed with the permission of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and called for the completion of ongoing schemes.
CM Baqar directed Chief Secretary Dr Fakhre Alam, who was accompanying him during the visit, to speak to the federal government regarding the land acquisition matters on the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway (M6). He added that work on the M6 motorway should begin now.