The Great Derangement

Published: September 29, 2019

This rainy season in Sindh, especially Karachi, is receiving unusual heavy rains. This should be enough to convince us of the harsh reality of climate change. The Met office had predicted in early September that rains would continue till the end of the month, but there was no preparedness on the official side, both by the Sindh government and the Karachi’s civic agencies.

Usually, Karachi receives little rain. It rained in the city from Sept 24 till Sept 27. It rained every day in those four days. On Sept 27, nature was in full fury. It rained ferociously accompanied by strong winds, lightning and thunder. On Sept 27, six rain-related deaths occurred. Five died from electrocution and a boy drowned in the Lyari river, which was in spate due to continuous rains. Two brothers, aged 14 and 11, died of electrocution in a working-class locality after rainwater entered their home. Two men riding a motorcycle died from electrocution when an electricity wire snapped and fell on them in SITE area. An eight-year-old boy died from electrocution in his home.

So far this rainy season Karachi has received several spells of heavy rain and many people have died in rain-related incidents. After every spell of heavy rain, almost all roads in the city presented the scene of urban flooding. The problem of water accumulation on roads and streets was compounded by choked drains. In many areas of the city, a mixture of rainwater and gutter water has been standing for over a month. This has caused craters and ditches on roads and streets. Recently the provincial government has launched a campaign to clear the city of accumulated garbage. In several areas of the city, garbage has been lifted but the problem of gutter overflows and broken roads persist.

Ministers, officials and political commentators are, however, in a state of denial. Formerly we used to hear about rain emergencies. But now nothing of the sort is happening. Now governmental apathy seems to be trying to get better of nature’s fury. A writer has described climate change as ‘The Great Derangement’. Our response to this seems to be ‘greater derangement’.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2019.

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