ISLAMABAD: With the monsoon season around the corner, the government does not seem to be proactive in tackling the threats it poses to the country’s infrastructure and people, as it appears that no contingency plans have been put in place yet to prevent a repeat of the destruction floods in 2010 and 2011 had caused.
Keeping in view the recent trends in climate change and consequent extreme hydro- meteorological disasters, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) have already conveyed their fears to the federal and provincial governments about the expected seasonal floods in July and August that could affect millions of Pakistanis.
Both the NDMA and PMD identified 29 districts across the four provinces as high risk of being affected by floods in their preliminary assessments. They fear that the floods could affect around 20 million people this year. The government, however, is expected to announce counter measures around June 15th. “We proposed an allocation of Rs5 billion by the federal government, Rs5 billion each by Punjab and Sindh, Rs3 billion each by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and Rs1 billion each by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas governments to cope with any flood-related disaster,” NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Qadir claimed that the National Monsoon Contingency Plan 2012 was still being formulated on the basis of provincial plans. He also cited a shortage of resources, particularly “human resources to diligently perform the roles and functions assigned to the NDMA to deal with the emerging challenges,” as the reason for being unable to cope with the threat of monsoonal flooding.
Chief Meteorologist PMD Riaz Ahmed said heavy rains were always expected during the monsoon season. “If heavy rains lash the northern areas of the country, then Sindh and Punjab can expect heavy flooding this year,” he warned. “We will announce our contingency plans on June 15th in view of the long-term seasonal forecast,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
Qadir stated that international donors did not completely fulfill their pledge of providing monetary assistance towards relief and rehabilitation efforts. The federal government had appealed for $357 million to complete around 100 relief projects launched after the floods, but only $172 million has been received to date.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2012.
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