The capital city’s civic agency still seems to be ill-prepared or inefficient to implement its contingency plan to avoid flood-like situation during the rainy season.
Islamabad, perhaps, is the only capital city where there is no proper drainage system. The Capital Development Authoriy has not yet installed waste disposal plant in the city that’s why residents throw waste into streams and even the agency has no proper system in place to clean streams from filth to allow smooth flow of rainwater which causes backflow, an official of the CDA’s Building Control directorate said. He said CDA’s emergency plan is still on paper.
The recent rain spells exposed the agency when rainwater entered important buildings such as the President’s House, Parliament House and Supreme Court. Illegal sewage lines in katchi abadis also create hurdles in smooth flow of rainwater. The rainwater also flooded katchi abadis in G-7/1, G-7/2, G-7/3, G-8/1, F-7/4 and F-6.
The slum dwellers had been cautioned by CDA through public notices to move to safer places and were warned that in case of failing to comply with official warnings these structures will be demolished and the residents will be responsible for any risk involved. “Neither did the residents comply with CDA notices nor did the civic body take any action to move them to safer places,” the official added. Director Aiwan-i-Sadr Abdul Sattar Achakzai confirmed this and said that a public notice had been regulated by CDA to inform the general public to remove all illegal sewage and drainage connections from streets and streams immediately.
“These illegal connections were the main causes for backflow during the recent rain,” he added. At present, the capacity of drains is shrinking and residents of katchi abadais divert the direction of these drains at many points, due to which rainwater cannot be controlled to enter into the houses, he said.
To identify vulnerable points in the monsoons, the civic agency had carried out a detailed survey of the city and identified 28 flood-vulnerable locations. “Subsequently, CDA had issued notices to flood-vulnerable slum dwellers living close to streams flowing through different parts of the federal capital, asking them to shift to safer places but to no avail,” CDA spokesperson Ramzan Sajid said.
CDA had also established a flood relief cell at the Directorate of Emergency and Disaster Management, Fire Headquarters, situated in G-7/1, he said, adding that people have also been warned to strictly follow rules and regulations and connect sewage and drainage lines of their houses and buildings with the main lines.
Sajid said there were directions given by CDA Chairperson to expedite the process of cleaning streams to allow the smooth flow of rainwater and avoid any untoward incident. But, he said, CDA has no system to cope with a 176mm or more downpour. The Chairperson while reviewing the performance of the Flood Relief Cell in the wake of recent downpours said these cloudbursts were unprecedented and unusual.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.
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