MITHI/HYDERABAD: The desert-swept Tharparkar district was drenched with nearly 315 millimetres of rain over 15 hours on Wednesday, forcing at an estimated 5,000 people to flee their homes. Happily, though the temperature dropped ten degrees to 26 degrees Celsius.
“The heaviest downpour of rainfall was recorded at 52 millimetres between 6 am to 7 am in Mithi,” said Dhanesh Kumar from the meteorological department.
Resident KD Rahimo added that nearly 5,000 residents of the Muslim Siran Colony were asked to evacuate when an emergency warning was issued by the DDO of revenue, Imran Bhatti, on Wednesday. Officials grew alarmed as around five feet of water had accumulated in Mithi.
“Most of the people left the area in cars or on camel and bullock carts, despite the fact that army boats had been sought,” he said. “In Mithi, areas such as Menghwadh Colony, Mali Muhallah, Kubar Colony and Bajeer Parah were submerged but no emergency warning was issued. More than two feet of water has accumulated in Menghwadh alone.”
The accumulation of water in the Muslim Siran Colony was caused by a backlog of sewage water from a nearby disposal facility. Four pumping machines are used in the town to drain the sewage water through a pond. In Islamkot, Civil hospital and the Rangers Post have gone under water and a 15-year-old boy was reportedly killed.
The district government has arranged temporary accommodation for the evacuees near the New Sabzi Mandi but as basic facilities are unavailable, the evacuees decided to stay with their relatives. The entire district went without electricity from 2:30 am on Wednesday while telephone and mobile networks have also been affected.
Build dam to avoid floods
In order to conserve rainwater as it flows towards the Rann of Kutch through the Karoonjhar mountains, water conservationists and development activists demanded the construction of small dams. “There are 10 small dams in the Nangarparkar tehsil of Tharparkar but their storage capacity has reduced,” said Navid Abbas from NGO Thardeep. “As the rain is supposed to make the groundwater sweet for consumption recurrent droughts make long term water conservation planning necessary.”
Tharparkar, with its four tehsils, is spread over 19,638 square kilometres and has a population of 914,000 according to the country’s census conducted in 1998.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.