Irrigation Department officials have been directed to pay special attention to vulnerable stretches near Ghazi Ghat Bridge and bunds of the Chenab in the flood-fighting plan for this year.
The Punjab government recently issued the plan in view of the upcoming monsoon season, slated to start in the second week of July. It mainly concentrates on southern districts of the province that were devastated by record-breaking Indus floods in 2010.
The Ghazi Ghat Bridge is built over the Indus between Muzaffargarh and Dera Ghazi Khan. The Chenab bunds are located in three tehsils in Multan. According to the plan, Irrigation Department officials will form emergency teams of 20 beldars and two mates (supervisors of beldars) at sites where the river level rises above the prescribed gauges, until the river level drops below the gauge.
During the high flood of 2010, the river tended to spill over on the left side of the bridge, so irrigation officials will seek to make relief cuts at suitable places. They have also been directed to maintain a stock of stone at each vulnerable site; and to complete repairs on the drainage system for the disposal of flood water from Muzaffargarh into the Indus and the Chenab.
The district coordination officers have been asked to remove encroachments identified by the Irrigation Department in their districts.
Executive district officers for health have been told to ensure they have enough vaccines, antibiotics, anti-venom for snake bites, ORS and other medical supplies during and after flood season.
They are also to organise emergency centres and cells to coordinate during emergencies and for special medical teams to carry out mass inoculations of affected populations.
Manpower and machinery
The Agriculture Department has been asked to station bulldozers and other earth-moving machinery near vulnerable points.
A fleet of dumper trucks and scraper units will also be available to collect and transport earth.
The district police officers of DG Khan, Multan and Muzaffargarh have been told to be ready to provide additional policemen during flood days.
The Pakistan Army has been asked for wireless-fitted jeeps, tipping trucks, trucks with chain pulleys and motor boats. In emergencies, the government can requisition the army to aid the civil administration and Irrigation Department. The Engineer 2 Corps Headquarters in Multan is to nominate a liaison officer with which the Irrigation Department could coordinate in case of severe flooding.
The Irrigation Department has sent copies of the plan to the commissioners, relief commissioners and district coordination officers of DG Khan, Multan and Muzaffargarh, as well as the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.
The floods of 2010 devastated 11 districts in the Punjab, killing 110 persons, displacing 6.2 million people, and damaging or destroying 1.712 million acres of standing crops as well as 500,000 houses.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.
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