Geography and climate: ‘Pillars of state vulnerable to rain’

CDA asks for an overhaul of Parliament House, Presidency and SC building to protect them from cloudbursts.

Azam Khan August 10, 2011


The key structures of the capital are not safe. Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Tuesday warned that the Presidency, Parliament House and the Supreme Court all need immediate “safety overhauling” to protect them from the rainwater.

“The buildings need to be waterproofed because the topology of the area has made them vulnerable to rainwater in several ways,” said an official. “We have no system to cope with a 176mm or more downpour,” he added.

Engineering Directorate sent this message to certain quarters, which was then confirmed by Member Engineering of CDA Abrar Shah. He said that the aforementioned buildings were situated adjacent to hills and the flow of rainwater towards them was unavoidable, referring to the Margalla Hills on two sides of the state-offices.

The warning comes at a time when heavy rains in the capital sent water gushing into the Parliament House on Monday. Secretariat blocks, Presidency and other important buildings got affected along with low-lying areas of the city. An official said that a reason for the water entering these offices was the flow it gained as it rained heavily in the nearby hills.

CDA Chairperson Imtiaz Inayat Elahi while reviewing the performance of Flood Relief Cell in the wake of Monday’s downpour said that such cloudbursts were unprecedented and unusual. The rain varied in its intensity even inside the city, with Saidpur receiving 176mm and adjoining areas of the capital receiving 30mm rain.

“Despite the extremely abnormal nature of the downpour, no major blockage of roads, no incident of loss of life and property took place due to prompt and quick action by CDA,” Elahi said.

However, the civic agency would still have to provide some explanation about the situation at the important offices of the capital. In its written reply that would be sent to presidency, CDA officials have cautioned that besides old concealed pipelines, fourth and fifth floors of the President House were in a “much dilapidated condition”.

The heavy showers of rain directly entered into the Presidency through cracks and holes on the roofs of these two floors, explained the Aiwan-e-Sadr Director from the civic agency in his written reply that was prepared in response to an explanation sought from the Presidency.

On the other hand, Abrar Shah claimed that if such a rain happened in Germany or any other European country the roads and buildings would also have been badly affected. Responding to a question, he said that CDA is working on 15 proposals to “enhance” the civic body’s capacity to control emergency-like situation during heavy rain.

At present, the capacity of drains is limited and at many points residents of slum areas divert the direction of these drains due to which rainwater cannot be controlled, Aiwan-e-Sadr Directorate wrote in their defense. Due to violations of drains, heavy losses could not be ruled out in future too, the statement read.

Aiwan-e-Sadr Directorate of CDA has no funds for maintenance of Presidency, while a minimum Rs10 million is required for the filings on the roofs of the building, it said in the reply.

However, before sending a reply to the President, Aiwan-e-Sadr Directorate of CDA also constructed a safety wall on the entrance of Presidency. CDA has also warned the residents of the katchi abadis (slum areas) to shift to safer places. The civic agency’s Directorate of Enforcement has carried out an operation to shift or remove the vulnerable katchi abadis on both sides the nullahs (streams and drainage canals) to avoid any unfortunate incident.

CDA member engineering said that four lawns of the Parliament House and a main lawn of President House also remained submerged due to the rain on Monday.

Heavy spell of monsoon rain has also managed to expose the quality of the roads in the federal capital -- several have taken a bashing during the Monday’s rain and have eroded in several places.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.


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