A rain emergency has been imposed in Badin. The district is being evacuated along with two other tehsils as it prepares for a possible repeat of the 2003 rain devastation.
“We are evacuating people from Badin, Shaheed Fazil Rahu and Tando Bagho tehsils with the help of the army and Rangers,” DDO HRM and Finance Dadlo Zohrani, told The Express Tribune. According to Zohrani, who is coordinating with the focal person, DDO Revenue Asif Tufail, the estimated population of the three tehsils is between 600,000 and 700,000.
“I can’t tell exactly how many of them are going to be affected,” he said. “So far we have set up 30 relief camps in school buildings and empty offices.”
The Badin DCO, Kazim Hussain Jatoi, declared emergency on Thursday afternoon after talking it over with army, Rangers, police, revenue, education and irrigation department officers.
According to the Meteorological Centre Karachi, Badin received 148 millimetres (mm) of rain by Thursday noon. Despite the situation, calls went unattended at the Met observatory in Badin. A journalist, Malik Ilyas, claims that the rain hit the 300 mm mark by 3 pm citing to the Met department.
People are being pulled out from areas submerged in two to three feet of water in and the district administration has asked the army and some NGOs for boats.
According to Ilyas, any deaths due to the rain were not reported until Thursday evening. Badin, like other rain hit-districts of Sindh, has been without electricity since Wednesday morning. The situation is likely to persist unless the rain stops.
The Hyderabad Electric Supply Company could not be reached to confirm when the power supply will be restored. The rain has also destroyed cotton, tomato, spices and other crops sprawling over tens of thousands of acres.
Concerns about the LBOD
The Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) is a winding drain that begins at Ghotki at the top of Sindh and travels all the way down to the sea at Badin, collecting sewerage as it goes. The drain has been a source of trouble for people of Badin.
During the monsoon rains in 2003, the waste water backwashing from the drain ruined agricultural land and affected more than 100,000 people.
“So far it has withstood the pressure of rain,” said Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida) Managing Director Ehsan Laghari. He hoped that the drain would hold out if the rain did not intensify. Sida has deployed staff along the drain in Badin to watch it. “In 2003, the LBOD burst after the same amount of rain that fell today,” he told The Express Tribune.
The situation may get out of control if the rain continues for another three days, he added. However, according to Sida sources, the drain’s condition is critical and there is a 50-50 chance that it will flood. “The work required for the drain’s rehabilitation is not yet complete as the Sindh Water Sector Improvement Programme (WSIP) is still putting together recommendations for it,” they said.
Apart from the LBOD, other 10 to 12 nullahs (drains) in the district are also problematic. “Their capacity has reduced due to an accumulation of silt and people tend to make breaches as outlets for the water during the rainy season.” By Thursday evening, there were three breaches at Ameer Shah nullah and one at Pachas Mori.
The sea is another problem as tidal waves grow stronger in August. The high tides mean the sea rejects water from the river and outfall drains. To make matters worse, the LBOD’s Tidal Link and Cholri Weir, both built to channel drainage towards the sea, were destroyed during a cyclone in 1999 and were never rehabilitated completely.
Meanwhile, one of Sida’s precautionary measures was to close the two canals supplying Badin from Kotri Barrage.
“The gates of the Akram Wah and Phuleli canals were closed on Thursday but the impact of water which is already in the system (canals and distributaries) will take 12 to 14 hours to subside,” said Sida spokesman Hizabullah Mangrio.
The canals are closed because water consumption for agriculture stops when it is raining and the excess canal water would only lead to floods.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.
For pictures of the monsoon rain, view slideshow here