Dozens of villages flooded as dams overflow in district West

Army had to be called in for rescue efforts as one track of the Super Highway remained closed for hours

Sameer Mandhro July 31, 2019

KARACHI: Dozens of small villages near the Northern Bypass were flooded on Tuesday as the first spell of the monsoon rain continued to lash the city for the second consecutive day. The rainwater gushed onto the main Super Highway from the Lat Dam, which overflowed and stopped at the median dividing the two sides of the motorway, which ultimately proved be the saviour for Saadi Town and its adjacent areas. The Super Highway, meanwhile, was blocked for traffic for hours.

Residents of the residential societies built along the Super Highway panicked as they heard news of the incoming torrent. Meanwhile, dozens of heavy and light vehicles were stranded on the Super Highway, leading from the Northern Bypass to the Toll Plaza. Rescue workers and officials of the district administration reached the site to control the situation, but given the circumstances, the army was requisitioned to assist the rescue efforts.

Dozens of villages, including Shahbaz Goth, Wazir Goth, Rasool Bux Brohi Goth and Gabol Goth, located in the area were flooded, with scores of families moving to safer ground out of fear that the situation could deteriorate in case of a breach in the Thado and Lat dams.

Saving grace

Pointing to the three-foot-high wall that acts as the median on the Super Highway, a villager, Abdul Sattar, said that the water was gushing so fast that it would flood Saadi Town and other residential areas located on the right side of the road. "The water could not cross the wall," he added.

Sattar told The Express Tribune that the roads leading to the villages were submerged in knee-deep water. "We can't even go to our relatives' houses and there is no contact with them," he informed this correspondent, adding that the water was coming from the hilly areas of Balochistan. "It happens when heavy rains fall in the mountains, but there is no planning to handle it." He said that he, along with his friends and other villagers, were engaged in the rescue work since early morning.

Residents panic

A resident of Saadi Town, Danish Rehmani, told The Express Tribune that though the situation was not like that in 2013, there was panic among the residents. "The news of villages flooding is coming from other side of the road [Super Highway]," he said, adding that some of his friends living near the Thado Dam were in critical situation.

Observing the situation, Rehmani, like other residents, has purchased rations for a week. "Currently, fear exists and residents are not leaving for any safer place but if it [rain] continues, it will certainly bring no good news for residents on this side of the road," he said.

Another resident of Saadi Town, who had gone to observe the situation around the Super Highway, said that the situation would be critical if the administration failed to take appropriate measures soon. "It [water] is coming to our area but I think the administration will be able to limit its flow," said Kamran Ahmed.

"At least 15 smaller villagers have been badly disturbed by the recent rains," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) president for Sindh chapter and area MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh said. "I have myself visited these villages and found them flooded." He said that all these villages were located in the limits of District West.

The PTI leader blamed the Sindh government for poor infrastructure. "There is panic among the villagers," he said. "No one from the government has reached them yet." He said the situation had been created due to the small dams constructed by local PPP leaders.  He added that several villagers were disconnected from the city.

For his part, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, who visited the area on Tuesday, said that there was currently no danger of flooding in Saadi Town, Scheme 33 and their adjoining areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2019.

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