RAWALPINDI: While monsoon is just a month away, Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has not yet started dredging of Leh Nullah due to unavailability of funds.

In reply to Wasa’s request for the release of funds to dredge Leh and 11 other nullahs in the garrison city ahead of the monsoon season, the Punjab government had sought an estimate.

The agency then sent the estimate of Rs70 million for 11 drains and Rs80 million for Leh Nullah. Usually, the dredging of Leh Nullah starts in May and completes by the end of June. However, the funds have not been released.

Officials said even if dredging of the nullahs is launched forthwith it may not be completed before the start of the rainy season in June-end, as it takes two to three months to complete the work.

Wasa says Rs80m have been sought for Leh Nullah, Rs70m for 11 other drains

They feared that the long delay in the start of Leh Nullah dredging may lead to flooding in the thickly-populated downtown areas.

The last flood that the Leh witnessed was on July 23, 2001.

The 620mm rain in just a few hours resulted in the worst floods in the city’s history. Thirty-five people lost their lives while many slums were swept away resulting in financial loss worth millions of rupees.

In case of heavy rains, the water level in Leh could rise to 18 feet touching the dangerous level.

According to official estimates, about 1,000 tonnes of garbage and construction material are dumped into the Leh Nullah on a daily basis due to poor management by authorities concerned.

Nullah Leh is more than 22 km long, stretching from Islamabad to Rawalpindi. The 11 other big nullahs in the city also discharged into Leh from different areas. Leh Nullah discharged into Soan River near Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench.

“May has almost ended and no dredging started yet and if the nullah is not cleared it will be difficult to avoid flooding in the garrison city in monsoon,” said a senior official of the district administration while talking to Dawn.

“Wasa conducted a survey of the nullah and found that many points are vulnerable and may cause flooding if these were not cleared. One could see obstructions at turning points of the nullah, especially at Ganjmandi, New Kattarian and Gawalmandi as people dump construction material waste along the nullah despite a ban,” he said.

He said encroachments along the nullah went unchecked as the concerned departments were paying no heed to remove them.

The official said Wasa had sent a letter to the Punjab government in February to release funds for dredging of Leh Nullah ahead of the monsoon season. He said if the funds are released in May, it would take 15 days to start the dredging after completing all formalities of the tender process.

He said the Punjab government had been requested to release the funds as soon as possible and in this regard a meeting was expected in Lahore next week.

When contacted, Wasa spokesman Umer Farooq said as soon as funds were received, the dredging would be launched.

“We are completing our homework and the cleanliness work would be completed by end of June. Wasa already has conducted a survey of the Leh Nullah and identified points to be cleared and once we get the go-ahead signal from Punjab government, we will speed up the work,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2024

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