The doors of the Parliament House had to usher some unexpected ‘state guests’ on Monday. Due to the heavy downpour in the morning, rainwater entered the meeting point of the lawmakers of the country. The meetings had to be cancelled after water started seeping into the committee rooms of the Parliament House.
Outside, roads turned into canals and parks into pools as the abundance of rain managed to alter the landscape of the capital for quite some time. The sewage system took the blame for its substandard performance and the routine of the denizens also got disturbed.
According to the Meteorological Department, till the filing of this report, more than 85 millimetres of rain had been recorded in Islamabad. Besides main avenues of the city, Allama Iqbal Colony G-7, J Salik Colony G-7/2, France and Sahiwal Colony along with other slum areas were most affected by the rainwater.
The intruding water left the residents of Allama Iqbal Colony in a quandary and the locals even staged a protest against the Islamabad administration for not providing them with timely relief. The water gushed into their houses and the luggage and valuables had to be shifted to the rooftop, but rescue official were nowhere to be seen.
The pouring rainwater also set some alarm bells ringing in Rawalpindi.
The water level was constantly rising in Nulla Leh, foreboding possibility of flooding, as overflowed drainage streams across the twin cities pumped rainwater into the already burgeoning drainage canal. An official from the Met office said that things were expected to improve after the rain had stopped.
The locals and officials from these areas said that despite the chronic problem of Leh getting flooded, the government has not succeeded in formulating a proper strategy to counter it. “New plans, new claims and new strategies come to the fore every year, but the damage caused by Leh remains a constant,” said Imtiaz, a resident of New Katarian.
Moreover, contrary to the tall claims of the authorities, they have not been successful in establishing a safe garbage dumping sites in twin cities, said an official. “For the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the parallel banks of Leh serve the purpose of garbage dumping site. Due to this, the low-lying areas along the canal are flooded,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Meteorological Department has predicted widespread monsoon rains and thundershowers in parts of the country between August 8 and 14. Met office said that monsoon is likely to remain active over Pakistan during second and third week of August.
In this phase, two to three strong weather systems are expected to approach the country.
Floods in Nullah Leh
In the Nullah Leh area, a total of 19 floods have occurred during the 59-year period from 1944 to 2002. On average the drainage canal has been flooded once in every three years.
Extreme flood years were witnessed in 1981, 1988, 1997 and 2001, the latter being the largest among the recorded events that was announced as a national disaster. The intensity and amount of rainfall caused the water level of Leh and its tributaries to rise remarkably. Most of the areas next to Leh remain submerged in water and the loss in Rawalpindi was colossal.
A total of 74 lives were lost and about 400,000 people were affected, 742 cattle head perished, 1,087 houses were completely destroyed and 2,448 partially damaged. Estimates indicate a damage of more than $0.25 billion to infrastructure, public and private property in those floods.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.