Heavy rain, strong winds lash Rawalpindi, Islamabad

Published March 3, 2024
Spectators cover themselves with a plastic sheet to shield themselves from rain after the PSL matches at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium were abandoned; a vendor displays raincoats along a street in the garrison city while an earth moving machine of the AJK Highways Department clears snow from the main Neelum Valley Road near Lawat, some 97km from Muzaffarabad, on Saturday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad, Tariq Naqash & Online
Spectators cover themselves with a plastic sheet to shield themselves from rain after the PSL matches at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium were abandoned; a vendor displays raincoats along a street in the garrison city while an earth moving machine of the AJK Highways Department clears snow from the main Neelum Valley Road near Lawat, some 97km from Muzaffarabad, on Saturday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad, Tariq Naqash & Online

• Garrison city residents complain about garbage-littered streets after rain
• CDA teams spend busy day de-watering low-lying areas

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: Heavy rain and with strong winds lashed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Saturday, disrupting energy supply and flooding low-lying areas of the cities.

Due to gusts, temporary shelters at mud houses and kiosks were flown away and garbage dumped by the roadside littered the streets in Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantt, exposing the efficiency of the civic bodies. According to residents, sanitary workers collected garbage from their houses and dumped it in overflowing dumpsters in their neighbourhoods and the windy weather dispersed this garbage from these bins onto the roads.

The rain started in the early hours of Friday and continued throughout Saturday intermittently due to a “strong westerly wave which is affecting most parts of the country and likely to persist in the upper parts till today.

On Saturday, the meteorological department recorded 19 millimetres of rain at Golra, 26mm at Zero Point, 28mm in Saidpur, 18mm in Bokra, and 6mm at the Airport in Islamabad. Chakala experienced 18mm and Shamsabad witnessed 21mm of rainfall.

According to a Met official, more rain and snowfall over the hills “is expected in upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Islamabad, and the Potohar region. Cold and dry weather is likely elsewhere in the country”.

Wasa in Rawalpindi

In Rawalpindi, the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) deployed its machinery on major roads to drain out the rainwater. “We have already imposed a rain emergency in the city and in this regard, all the staff has been deployed in the low-lying areas, especially along Leh Nullah, to dewater the neighbourhoods,” said WASA spokesman Umer Farooq.

Meanwhile, Rawalpindi Commissioner Engineer Aamir Khattak cancelled the leaves of all officers and staff in light of the rain emergency. He chaired a meeting of the disaster management committee held at the commissioner’s office, which was attended by Deputy Commissioner Hasan Waqar Cheema, Wasa Managing Director Saleem Ashraf, and other officers concerned.

Due to the expected flow of tourists in Murree as a result of snowy weather, the relevant deputy commissioner “should have a close liaison with Islamabad administration”, the commission said, adding that the entry and exit points of the newly-created district should also be monitored. He also directed Rescue 1122 to keep the early warning system functional to avoid any untoward situation.

Commissioner Aamir Khattak also visited different areas of the city to review the cleanliness situation. He visited the Committee Chowk Underpass, Waris Khan Circle Road, and the Committee Chowk dumping point. He directed the Saddar assistant commissioner to identify space for a separate transfer site in the urban union councils within the next three days to facilitate efficient garbage collection. “There is only one transfer station for garbage in the city which is the biggest obstacle in maintaining cleanliness,” he said, adding that separate transfer stations would reduce the transport cost and increase the efficiency of the civic agency.

He further directed that an immediate summary be moved to increase the scope of the Rawalpindi Waste Management Committee (RWMC) besides the lack of machinery and resources so that it may not create any hindrance in the cleaning drive.

While reviewing the flow of rainwater on the Gawalmandi bridge, he directed timely measures for water drainage.

Meanwhile, a ‘Clean Punjab’ campaign which started on March 1 will continue till March 31. Under the campaign, garbage from open spaces, vegetable markets, markets, bus terminals, and graveyards will be removed. He said that for this campaign, a cleaning operation plan had been prepared in Rawalpindi and its tehsils.

He said that the streets and main roads should be cleaned through “manual and mechanical sweeping and washing” and should be destroyed in open plots and cemeteries. “Awareness camps will be set up at the UC level across Punjab.

CDA spends busy day

According to a statement issued by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), its teams remained active in Islamabad and along with a timely response to the complaints regarding inundation in different areas of the city, the water accumulated on the highways was also cleared by the CDA.

The statement claimed that the helpline established by the administration made it possible to solve the complaints of water accumulation in a timely manner to facilitate the citizens.

Joint teams of the CDA, the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad, and the Islamabad Capital Territory were active in CDA’s sectoral areas, non-sectorial areas, including housing societies and other low-lying areas to drain water from low-lying areas, including houses, with dewatering pumps.

“It should be noted that in view of the rains, the holidays of the relevant staff have also been cancelled. Similarly, the duties of the respective staff have been distributed at different times while strict monitoring of low-lying areas is also being ensured,” it stated. Several flooded vehicles were also observed, parked by the roadside after the rainwater damaged the electrical wiring, bringing them to a standstill.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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