Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pakistan - The floods and government - Ill-equipped and inefficient

The floods this time have been caused by the vagaries of climate change. Extreme weather conditions that include intensified monsoons, abrupt rainfalls and cloudburst events have caused the devastation. Torrential rains continue to play havoc even in areas considered outside monsoon range like Gilgil-Batistan, which is quite unusual. In Chitral the heavy rainfall caused flash floods. At places rains have caused surge in water courses and streams which wreaked havoc in villages and towns. In mountainous areas of Chitral in KP, and Rajanur and DG Khan in Punjab, the devastation has been caused by mountain steams flowing down the plains in high speed carrying away all that came in the way.
Till now the destruction of infrastructure and property and human and livestock casualties remains confined to the upper riparians that include KP, AJK, Gilgit Baltistan and South Punjab. Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has, however, issued a high alert in the wake of expected widespread heavy rain and flood, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, over the next five days. According to the alert the heavy monsoon was concentrating in Sindh where up to 500,000 cusecs of water was already flowing down the Indus at Guddu and Sukkur and the upcoming downpour could aggravate the situation. Meanwhile a happy-go-lucky Nisar Khuhru has assured that there will be no flood this year.
The country lacks efficient and well-equipped institutions to deal with the disastrous effects of climate change. Successive governments have given little priority to their strengthening and upgrading. Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) is supposed to play the leading role in weather forecast. Its aging radars spread across the country have yet to be replaced with new and more efficient equipment. The NDMA and the provincial PDMAs have still to develop the capacity to satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to them. In Japan regular public drills are held to cope with earthquakes. Nothing of the sort is done to prepare the riverine communities or those in mountainous regions to cope with flash floods.

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