Monday, September 26, 2011

Flood in Sindh & Encroachment Mafia on River Bed, Spillways & Drainage System.

KARACHI: It took two hours of rain to wreck Karachi on Saturday and the worst isn’t over. The city can expect more thundershowers today as well. The battering began around 2pm and was laced with claps of thunder that are otherwise rarely experienced in Karachi. By the end of the afternoon, Saddar recorded the most downpour of 40mm and at least nine people were electrocuted to death, including five of one family. From Clifton to Gulistan-e-Jauhar thousands of people got stuck on the roads and there were reports that people were robbed at gunpoint in the traffic jams.

Responding To Disasters


Why is this happening

For many the simple question is why the civic authorities can’t learn from the same disasters each year. According to the experts, better coordination while planning roads with drainage and sewage systems can prevent the inundation. What does Karachi expect if its drains are blocked, says urban planner and historian Arif Hasan, who is also the author of ‘Understanding Karachi: Planning and Reform for the Future’. “The construction of Mai Kolachi has blocked two main drains,” he told The Express Tribune. “Water is now forced to go through a small 60-foot nullah [into the sea].” This blockage has increased the time it takes for the water to flow out into the sea by at least four to five times, if not 10. “Of course, the time it takes [for the water to flow out] is dependent on the amount of rain and the sea tide,” he explained. If it is high tide at sea then the water trying to flow into the sea might be forced back, making the process even slower. This situation is exacerbated by squatters. There are 13 nullahs or natural drains in the city and most of the drainage systems are connected to them, says professor of architecture and planning at the Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw (NED) University of Engineering and Technology, Noman Ahmed, who has written a book on the water supply in Karachi. “But with heavy encroachments, both by developments of katchi abadis as well as some unscrupulous local developers, the water flow has been blocked.” For Arif Hasan though, the encroachments of unplanned settlements pale in comparison with the “land hunger of the elite.” Most of these outfall drains are located on valuable land in Clifton and Defence. The city’s southern parts are significantly more densely populated than its northern areas. The southern side is also where most drains and sewage systems are located – therein lies the problem.

Sochta Pakistan. Date: August 19, 2011_Part 1


“They have encroached by constructing buildings, houses in Kehkashan in Clifton, shops, parking spaces even an MPA hostel,” Hasan says. “Naturally, if you encroach, and drainage systems are blocked, there will be problems.” Another example is the construction of signal-free corridors undertaken by expanding major neighbourhoods by taking in service roads. This construction, on many occasions, builds over an already existing drainage system or in other instances ends up taking space previously allocated to one. “Such constructions are so haphazard that they have blocked most of the storm drains, compounding the issue,” Noman Ahmed adds. “You can build any and all the drainage systems you want but if there is any impendent to it [water and sewage] entering the sea there will be problems,” Hasan further explains. As Karachi struggles under the weight of an 18-million person strong population, one of the biggest casualties is garbage disposal. “The system for the disposal of solid waste has almost collapsed over the last four, five years. What happens is that people in charge of disposing the waste are dumping it in the nullahs which is clogging them.” Uneven land is another issue. Lyari, for example, is located at a depression, and rain water needs to be pumped out from the area as there is no natural route for it to spill out. “Some areas are located lower than sea level, thus a natural spill does not occur and in this case you get a backflow and the sewage and drainage system fail to function,” Ahmed says. Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2011. REFERENCE: Rains forecast till Tuesday, doubts swell that city will hold By Mahnoor Sherazee Published: September 11, 2011 

Sochta Pakistan. Date: August 19, 2011_Part 2


LAHORE: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) warned that the major cities of Pakistan will be inundated if the drainage systems are not replaced immediately, Express 24/7 reported on Monday. NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said 209 people have died and approximately five million people have been affected. Crops over millions of acres have been completely destroyed in this year’s flash floods. A survey conducted by the NDMA revealed that the drainage systems of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar among other cities fail to properly draw off water. Heaps of garbage along with accumulated water and overflowing gutters can also be seen in these cities. The NDMA has also notified that widespread devastation would be inevitable if steps are not taken to curb the issue. Flooding has killed about 200 people, destroyed or damaged nearly one million houses and flooded 4.2 million acres of land since late August, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Pakistan is still haunted by memories of the 2010 floods which killed about 2,000 people and made 11 million homeless in one of the country’s worst natural disasters. One-fifth of Pakistan was then submerged in water — an area the size of Italy — and the government, which was widely accused of reacting too slowly, faced $10 billion (6.3 billion pounds) in damages to infrastructure, irrigation systems, bridges, houses and roads. REFERENCE: Major cities in Pakistan at risk of flooding: NDMA Published: September 12, 2011 

Almost a year from now, I remember browsing through images of the Pakistan flood victims as I sat alone in the night shift at work. I saw the hopelessness in the faces of the victims, and today I see similar expressions on this year’s flood affectees as a video plays in front of me on the television screen – a troubling reminder of government negligence perhaps? The 2010 floods were obviously the first of its kind in Pakistan and took every one by surprise. It’s a shame that a year later we haven’t learnt at all and a large number of people are affected again. According to various government officials, this year at least 270 people have died in Sindh, 5.3 million people and 1.2 million homes have been affected and 1.7 million acres of crops have been destroyed. In a recent television interview with DawnNews the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD)’s Director Dr Muhammad Hanif confessed negligence in issuing a warning last year, however he said an early warning was issued for the floods to all the stake holders this year. So the question is why didn’t the responsible authorities take preventive measures? The following image appeared in the Daily Dawn paper. As you can see the major impact of the torrential rain was on the Sindh province. The severely affected cities, this year include Badin, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Umerkot, Tharparkar and Tando Allahyar. REFERENCE: The lessons we never learn by Farooq Abbasi on September 15th, 2011 

News Night With Talat 12th September 2011

News Night With Talat 12th September 2011 by usmanisrock

Looking at the comparison it is interesting to note that the areas that somehow were spared last year from the devastation are now the most affected areas by the rain-triggered-floods. The severe rains caused an overflow in the Tarbela and Mangla dams as the water level exceeded the capacity of the dams. More than a year after the 2010 calamity, over 800,000 families remained without permanent shelter, according to aid group Oxfam, and more than a million people needed food assistance. Pakistan being an agrarian society relied most on the crops that were damaged. About 2.7 million cotton bales worth Rs.3.5 billion were destroyed during recent flash floods in Sindh province as about 23 cotton growing districts of the province were badly affected due to torrential rains. According to the Cotton Development Commissioner, Khalid Abdullah cotton (the cash crop of Pakistan) was grown in 23 districts across the province. Out of these cotton growing districts in the province, seven districts produced 80 per cent of the total crop production and about 74 per cent of the total output was damaged due to recent flash floods in the province, he added. The DG ISPR Maj Gen Athar Abbas was questioned in a talk show that why isn’t there a long term planning for dealing with the floods as each year the army seems to be caught up in the relief efforts. His reply was that the responsible authorities should take measures and not the army. So, who are the responsible authorities? The government, the NDMA, the district management? When Mr. Yousuf Talpur MNA of Pakistan People’s Party from Tharparkar was asked about having received any warning for the rains he acknowledged that this year the warning was received but they were not able to prepare for the rains/floods as it had exceeded their expectations and termed it a “natural calamity” that could not have been avoided. However, he did blame the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for not having provided post-flood relief. The NDMA chairman, however, offered a statement claiming that the supply chain was affected because the workers were on leave on account of the Eid-ul-Fitar- holidays during the first spell of rains. It seems as if the blame game never ends and instead of making a collective effort the authorities start pointing fingers at each other. REFERENCE: The lessons we never learn by Farooq Abbasi on September 15th, 2011 

World Bank LBOD Project Ruins Sindh - 1 (Bolta Pakistan - 8th Sep 2011)


I remember reading a news article that said Global warming was responsible for the Sindh flood, well if it is responsible for the flood then what are we going to do about it collectively and individually? The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) issued a flood guideline on their website. How many people affected by the floods would have read the guidelines? Do the people living in undeveloped areas even have internet access per say? Each year in Bangladesh around 18 per cent of the country is flooded, killing over 5,000 people and destroying 7 million homes. Bangladesh has learnt to effectively reduce the damage caused by the floods by investing in infrastructure that can sustain the floods. Perhaps the “responsible” authorities in Pakistan may want to look at Bangladesh as an example that has dealt with its recurring flood crisis. Hypothetically speaking, if the floods occur next year, will we be ready to deal with them or will we wait for the floods to have hit us and then scratch our heads thinking what needs to be done? Will the stakeholders accept the floods as a natural calamity and just become bystanders while more destruction takes place? * The writer is a Multi-media Content Producer at REFERENCE: The lessons we never learn by Farooq Abbasi on September 15th, 2011

World Bank LBOD Project Ruins Sindh - 2 (Bolta Pakistan - 8th Sep 2011)


Loss of precious human lives and livestock and destruction of standing crops and properties because of the flood for the second year in a row have exposed our disaster management systems. Soon after the worst ever deluge of 2010, global environmental agencies had warned that floods would keep revisiting Pakistan. Ideally, we should have been better prepared during this monsoon. The National Disaster Management Authority which is still in infancy with its newborn provincial offshoots can be blamed only partly for all the chaos we are in again. Lack of political will and administrative focus and paucity of funds are equally responsible. Enhanced fiscal devolution towards provinces provided a cover to the federal authorities who could have mustered nationwide political support on just one thing: what will we do if floods hit again? Sadly, they did not. The Sindh government almost lost much of its administrative grip even over day-to-day business—and watched with helplessness the killings and kidnappings in Karachi. It too could have better equipped provincial disaster management mechanisms and encouraged political forces and media to prepare their ranks for facing the monsoon miseries and floods. The provincial government and its political allies did nothing of the sort. And media too remain fixated on what it considered urgent instead of building upon whatever expertise it had gained during a very extensive coverage of 2010 floods—for educating people on what to do in next monsoon. Chairman, NDMA, Mr Zafar Qadir, admitted during a TV talk show that he did not know about the blockage of 13 escape routes or special spillways built by the British in Sindh to facilitate the flow of flood waters into the Arabian Sea. Their blockage over decades is a basic reason for inundation of populated and cropped areas. One hopes that these spillways are reopened to minimise the devastation caused through a deluge in the future. Officials of the NDMA say they were not totally taken off guard by the recent floods. After last year’s floods they had created a Strategic Planning Unit and Logistic Cell within the NDMA to enhance their response capacity. They claim they have better coped with the challenges of relief and recovery operations during the current floods than in the last year—thanks to these specialised groups. The Strategic Planning Unit is raised during a disaster to provide input on how to deal with it most effectively and its Logistic Cell acts as the sole corridor for receiving and dispatching humanitarian aid and keeping a record of inventories. The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. REFERENCE: Facing the challenge By Mohiuddin Aazim | npaperMagzine Yesterday 

World Bank LBOD Project Ruins Sindh - 3 (Bolta Pakistan - 8th Sep 2011)


The NDMA should be credited for its relief and rescue operations in 2010 floods when it was only four years old and for its capacity enhancement immediately afterwards. The creation of provincial and district disaster management authorities (DDMA) is just one big step taken in the right direction. These newborn agencies at least have crawled to the scenes of the disaster during the current floods, even if they could not run and rush to help. Another milestone that the NDMA has achieved after last year’s floods is the installation of Pakistan’s first ever Tsunami Early Warning System at Gwadar in collaboration with the UNDP. With the help of Pakistan Metrological Department the system has been tested and activated. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Sindh is clearly struggling to come up to the expectation of some six million flood-affected people and understandably so. It is just a year old and is short of the resources that are required to discharge its duties. Nevertheless, its efforts are showing through whatever little has been done so far for the victims of the floods. Had the provincial government held district government elections on time and had the elected representatives of district governments been in their place perhaps people affected by the floods would have got some relief much earlier and in better ways. For example, hundreds of thousands of pregnant women who went through unimaginable difficulties during the floods could have been provided duly prioritised relief through joint efforts of the DDMA and lady councillors in the affected union councils. The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. REFERENCE: Facing the challenge By Mohiuddin Aazim | npaperMagzine Yesterday 

Bolta Pakistan - 21st sep 2011 part1


After the 2010 floods, the federal and provincial governments made some serious attempts for immediate recovery of the agriculture sector and these efforts bore fruit. Our cotton crop turned out to be much less short than initially feared and wheat was sown over 9.2 million hectares against the targeted nine million hectares. The damage done to the crops and livestock during the current deluge is smaller in magnitude but early recovery of agriculture sector would be a bit more difficult for the simple reason that financial resources would not be available from the centre because of the devolution of agriculture sector to the province. The provinces are now going to get sales tax on services sector and this should supposedly enhance their resourcefulness. But because this financial year is the first year of this exercise, volumes of provincial tax collection may not reach the desired levels. Housing and infrastructure sectors require far greater resources for reconstruction. According to the PDMA, Sindh, half a million housing units have been completely destroyed by the current floods. Disaster management authorities can only act as a platform to channelise foreign and domestic aids and assistance and sharing of technical expertise of other countries in this regard. The actual cost of reconstruction of housing units and infrastructure would be far higher than what national or international donors are expected to come up with. So, the role of the provincial government and the private sector would be crucial. Low-cost housing schemes could be launched with the help of banks and housing finance companies and infrastructure could be rebuilt on public-private partnerships. Countries such as US, UK, China, Australia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia which had participated in the post-flood 2010 reconstruction will have to be kept in the loop. But instead of expecting direct financial help from them Pakistani authorities and entrepreneurs will have to present comprehensive plans with specific requirements of foreign investment along with mutually acceptable economic rationale. The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. REFERENCE: Facing the challenge By Mohiuddin Aazim | npaperMagzine Yesterday 

To describe the irreversibility of events and the determination of socio-historic forces, Waris Shah’s favorite expression was “Vagan paiy dariya na kadi murrde” (The rivers bent on flowing cannot be stopped). For the last few years Pakistan’s rivers are honouring Waris Shah’s depiction when, in monsoon season, they reclaim the paths that have been usurped by human intruders by way of a quickly multiplying population, anarchy, and lack of governance. The rivers are giving an early warning to every Pakistani that if you mutilate nature, then it will take a very cruel revenge one day. And nature’s revenge is so tough that if the earthquake in the Washington DC area last month had lasted 20 more seconds, very few people would have been left to tell the story. It cannot be determined if Pakistan and many other such countries have ever been more brutal to nature or with their fellow human beings. In both cases the end result is widespread destruction: probably more people perish and suffer because of floods and their intervention in nature than by jihadi terrorists and sectarian/mafia gangs. It seems like there is a correlation between these both types of brutalities: both are product of irrational approach to earth and the beings that occupy it. REFERENCE: Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a poet, author, a political commentator and a cultural activist. He is a Doctor of Economics and currently lives in Washington DC. Do not invite nature’s wrath By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM September 17, 2011 (2 weeks ago) 

Bolta Pakistan - 21st sep 2011 part2


Unlike scientific debates about human- induced global warming, Pakistan’s case is very simple and self evident. An unplanned population has encroached every inch of space that has become the cause of incessant devastations. Since the hapless crowds encroached on reserved lands, drainage and river beds, the monsoon water has no other way but to destroy what comes in its way. Untill the 70s every village, town, city or desert area had natural passages in case of heavy rain and floods. Now, there is hardly any village or town that has not blocked the flow of rain water: raised paved roads everywhere has created a situation in which heavy rains turn the whole village or town into a dirty water pond that can only breed diseases. People have encroached river beds, and not only cultivate there, but have made brick houses as well. Given the Indus Water Basin Treaty in Pakistan’s rivers like Ravi and Sutlej, there is hardly any water during the winter but that does not mean that they will be dry in monsoons as well. If India does not utilise most of monsoon water to fill its dams built on Ravi and Sutlej, most of central and western Punjab will be drowned by floods. India has no choice but to release water after its dams are filled. And, taking the worst scenario of evil Indian intentions that Pakistanis assume anyway, if instead of filling its dams it lets the excessive water flow, areas around Ravi and Sutlej will see a great human tragedy because of hurdles created in the river beds. Of course the monsoon and floods are seasonal hazards, but during the rest of the year the situation is very grave though not dramatic to capture the attention of media or the governments. How can the localities handle heavy rains and floods when they cannot handle the sewerage water? Sewerage disposal is handled so badly that it keeps on spreading diseases and killing hundreds of thousands of people every year, specifically in the rural areas. Either it creates ponds of dirty water in the streets or it is disposed off in the irrigation channels. For example, the Lower Bari Doab canal water that reaches the fields in Sahiwal or beyond is heavily polluted with sewerage water: right from its beginning (or even before from Ravi river) every city, town and village drops sewerage in the irrigation distributaries and watercourses. By the time it reaches the crops it has more than half of filth resulting in disease enhancing crops consumed by humans. In addition, such polluted water seeps down to underground water making it extremely harmful for human consumption. No wonder, water borne diseases are so common in Pakistan. Somehow poor Pakistanis will get through this devastating period of heavy rains and floods, but a lesson has to be learnt: every locality should have a permanent arrangement of drainage of sewerage and excessive water. There are many countries where it rains all year long but they have made befitting arrangements and months of rain do not disrupt normal life. REFERENCE: Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a poet, author, a political commentator and a cultural activist. He is a Doctor of Economics and currently lives in Washington DC. Do not invite nature’s wrath By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM September 17, 2011 (2 weeks ago) 

In Pakistan, instead of making better arrangements for excessive water discharge, human encroachments have blocked the old drainage systems. Pakistan‘s government, at all levels, should take sewerage disposal and water drainage its top development priority. Every locality, small villages or big cities, should be mandated to have drainage systems ready before next monsoon. The developers and constructors, whether building residential dwellings or making metal roads should have a legal binding and liability to first make safe drainage system before they do anything else. Communities should be made liable through legislation, if there is none already, to take collective responsibility for making arrangements of disposing of sewerage and rain water. A compulsory drainage disposal fee should be charged as part of land revenue or property taxes. One does not have to be a lawyer or a judge to figure out that harming others, as individuals or communities, is violation of human rights and safety. Polluting streets and waterways with sewerage does just that: harm others. Therefore, if the government(s) does not take necessary action then the highest courts should take a suo-moto action to protect the whole Pakistani society. Furthermore, if suicide is a liable act then proliferating sewerage fits this category of crime too. If no one does anything then nature will punish in a way it is doing at the present time. REFERENCE: Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a poet, author, a political commentator and a cultural activist. He is a Doctor of Economics and currently lives in Washington DC. Do not invite nature’s wrath By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM September 17, 2011 (2 weeks ago) 

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