People associated with boating business at River Ravi are not happy with the low-level of water this monsoon.
Haji Younus Pehlwan, a contractor, says water in the river is no more than three feet deep. He fears a severe blow to his business after Ramazan unless there are ample rains in the coming days and the water level rises. “The number of visitors is very low in Ramazan. It usually rises after Eid,” he says. However, he adds, this year they had no high hopes.
Younus owns a fleet of 18 boats and motorboats and employs boatmen from nearby villages to ply these. He says with low-level of water in the river he does not expect a large number of families to turn up after Ramazan. “Our only customers will be the visitors to the shrine of Baba Ghulam Muhammad at Kamran Baradari island, vendors who sell eatables and flowers at the Baradari.”
Occasionally, he says, a few couples looking to spend some time by themselves also ride his boats to the Baradari after iftar.
The number of his customers is high on Thursdays because of the rise in number of visitors to the shrine, he adds. Shamim Bibi, a resident of Kot Abdul Malik, 70, is one such customer. She says she is one of the regular visitors to the shrine.
Kakki, a paralysed woman, and her physically-handicapped husband, Bashir, also make round trip to the Baradari everyday on Younis’s boats to sell flowers.
Met Office says there is no immediate chance of a flood in River Ravi. Deputy Director Ikramud Din says more rains are expected in the city in the coming days but there is no threat of a flood in Ravi at Balloki or Shahdara.
For residents of several villages on and close to the river bed, no flood is welcome news. Malik Sajjad, a resident of Khokhar village, says in case there is a flood they have to relocate to higher grounds. “We take along our family, cattle and other belongings but the crops we’ve cultivated in the bed are all destroyed by the water,” he says.
Qasim, a 25-year-old, who resides in a tent house on the river bed, says the critical months have passed and that there is no possibility of a flood now. However, he adds, their families remain watchful throughout the monsoon.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.
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