RAWALPINDI: The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has requested the Punjab government to release Rs150 million for the cleanliness of Leh Nullah and 11 major drains in the garrison city ahead of the monsoon season (July to September).

After the provincial government sought the estimate for the cleanliness of the drains and Leh Nullah from Wasa, the sanitation agency demanded Rs70 million for the 11 big drains and Rs80 million for the cleanliness of Leh Nullah.

Since 2009, the desilting of Leh Nullah at vulnerable points has been carried out by Wasa with the assistance of the Punjab government either through the Annual Development Programme (ADP) or supplementary grants, said a senior Wasa official.

However, Wasa has never maintained tributaries of Leh Nullah in Rawalpindi city since its establishment in 1998. These drains were previously maintained and desilted by the municipal services wing of the city district government, Rawalpindi.

Spokesperson says work likely to start by end of April

After its devolution, the Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC) has been maintaining all drains, including the tributaries of Leh Nullah since 2015.

Last year, Wasa was asked to desilt other drains along with Leh on an immediate basis and the local government and the community development department asked Wasa Rawalpindi to take up the task to dredge the nullah.

Wasa has also been asked by the Punjab government to carry out a detailed physical survey for desilting of all nullahs/stormwater drains ahead of the monsoon season. Its estimated cost is Rs70 million.

When contacted, Wasa spokesman Umer Farooq said the agency had sought funds from the provincial government and that work would be started as soon as the funds were transferred.

The spokesperson said the dredging of Leh and other streams would likely start by the end of April and it would be finished by June-end.

Wasa has prepared its plan for the cleanliness of Leh and other drains and identified all hurdles in the smooth flow of rainwater in nullahs. He said the provincial government wanted to prepare the plan ahead of monsoon season to avoid a flood-like situation.

Rawalpindi’s topography

According to the senior Wasa official, Rawalpindi has a favourable topography for stormwater drainage.

“It has several stormwater channels/nullahs passing through the city. Leh Nullah is the main nullah which enters Rawalpindi from the northern side of the city (Khayaban-i-Sir Syed), and flows through the densely populated areas of the city,” he said.

According to the official, Leh has a catchment area of 239.8km and has six major tributaries: three streams originate from the foothills of Islamabad and flow through Rawalpindi where other tributaries join it.

Floods in the Leh Nullah Basin normally occur during the monsoon season when Islamabad receives rainfall from three types of weather systems, namely monsoon depressions from the Bay of Bengal, India (the most important system), westerly waves from the Mediterranean Sea, and seasonal lows from the Arabian Sea.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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