There will be no heavy floods till July 15 and if they do strike, it will not be as severe as the one in 2010, said Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo.
He was speaking at a news conference at Sukkur DCO House on Friday evening. “With the help of the Met office, we are strictly monitoring the weather and if any change is noticed, we will share the situation with the media,” he promised.
Comparing the current water situation with that of last year, he assured that the water level is low. “Last year, there was an acute water shortage in Sindh and we were fighting with the Punjab because they were taking water through the Chashma-Jhelum link canal,” he explained.
It was then that the government received information about the flash floods heading towards Sindh, he said. The Sindh chief minister immediately directed all the ministers, advisers and MPAs to supervise the situation in their areas.
“I myself camped out in Sukkur for nearly two months,” he said. Tori Bund had overflowed and as the water pressure increased, eight to nine districts in Sindh were inundated.
“It was a logistic nightmare for us because millions of people were left homeless and we had to provide them shelter immediately,” he recalled.
There were 3,000 breaches in rivers, canals, branches and other water courses and the right side of the Indus River was completely ruined, he said.
The repair work of the main dykes would be completed by June 30, while other secondary works will take another 15 to 20 days.
In response to a question about implementing the judicial commission on Tori Bund, the minister said that those involved in corruption and criminal negligence would be punished. “So far we have received Rs2.5 billion and have completed repair work of all the main dykes, satisfactorily,” he said.
Consultants have been hired to figure out how to reopen the 10 closed gates of Sukkur Barrage, the minister replied when asked about enhancing the discharge capacity of Guddu and Sukkur barrages.
The discharge capacity of Sukkur Barrage was 1.5 million cusecs and after the closure of 10 gates, it has been reduced to 900,000 cusecs. According to the minister, a firm from China is trying to construct a hydel power unit at Sukkur Barrage, which will produce 120 megawatts of electricity.
“Despite the devastating flood, Sindh achieved a bumper wheat crop of 4.2 million metric tons. I am optimistic that the paddy crop will also be a bumper crop.”
Three engineers suspended for ‘corruption’
The government suspended and transferred two Guddu Barrage engineers and a Sindh Begari Feeder engineer on charges of corruption during the repairs on dykes.
Sources said the Sindh chief secretary issued a notification on Thursday to suspend Guddu Barrage chief engineer Zahoorul Hasnain Qazi, Guddu Barrage superintendent engineer Irshad Memon and Sindh Begari Feeder executive engineer Amjad Jatoi.
The officers have been removed from their posts for their alleged involvement in accepting commission from the contractors, who are busy in repair work of Tori Bund and other dykes.
The government summoned all irrigation officers and took oaths from them, asking them to promise that they would not demand commission from the contractors before the repair work started, the sources claimed.
The sources said the chief engineer and subordinate officers broke the oath and took commission. Syed Zaheer Haider Shah has taken over as Guddu Barrage chief engineer.
The irrigation minister confirmed the suspension of the officers. “As a chief executive, the chief minister has the right to remove any officer on charges of negligence,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2011.