Karachi flooding


Hard times may hit Karachi and Hyderabad with the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s fresh forecast about an urban flooding warning for the two cities as a monsoon spell is brewing in Sindh and parts of Balochistan from August 6. The Met department says a low pressure system from the Bay of Bengal is likely to approach Sindh and “under the influence of this weather system, strong monsoon currents are expected to penetrate Sindh, south Punjab and eastern Balochistan from Thursday (evening/night) to Saturday”. Besides urban flooding, flash flooding in the hill torrents of Khuzdar may play havoc. With this, the Sindh government has sprung into action and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the city to review work on cleaning the city’s storm-water drains. Drains should be cleaned regularly, not just in pre-monsoon weeks. Drains chock during the monsoon because of encroachment at several portions. Also, untreated sewage water chocks the sewerage system as this leads to settling down of heavy sediments. Karachi’s flooding is becoming a political as well as national issue. Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman to visit Karachi and supervise cleaning up the city with “unlimited funds”. Over the decades, city’s crumbling infrastructure has failed to withstand rainwater’s pressure, and subsequently, the rainwater mixed with sewage, inundates localities in the city and turned roads into puddles. But the key to the solution is not in cleaning nullahs. As pointed out by NDMA Chairman Lt-Gen Mohammad Afzal had said cleaning of drains and rebuilding of sewerage infrastructure altogether could solve the issue. Pakistan Army’s V Corps has been called in under the Disaster Management Act and the work on cleaning the city’s drains would be carried out in two phases. According to him if the sewerage system is separate in some areas, untreated water cannot be put into the drainage system without treating it.
These issues can be solved through creating consensus among the stakeholders – Sindh government, federal government, local government and political parties – on a long-term plan to address Karachi’s problems. Speaking at a press conference here on Sunday, he said that efforts were afoot to evolve consensus among all stakeholders, including the federal and provincial governments and their relevant departments. Now, the corps would assist in disaster mitigation and management in Karachi. Involving corps in managing urban flooding is a temporary solution. The long-term solution lies in improving the capacity of the institution.