Devastating floods have once again washed through the lives, homes and hopes of the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, leaving the scenic valleys of Bahrain, Kalam and Swat – popular picnic spots for tourists – submerged and presenting the picture of utter disaster.
As many as 193 people have died so far while 10,761 houses have been fully damaged in K-P, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) revealed on Saturday. Beyond Swat, the floods have also affected the districts of Nowshera and Charsadda, leaving entire houses inundated and leaving their inhabitants no choice but to evacuate. Around 959 livestock animals have also been killed in the natural calamity, according to PDMA data.
“I have never seen a flood like this. The water has washed everything away,” said Subhan Khan, a resident of the town of Bahrain. “People have lost billions of rupees as floodwater damaged hotels, houses and everything else. Everyone is just busy desperately trying to save their loved ones,” he told The Express Tribune, complaining that he had not seen a single government official helping people. “Everyone is working on their own to save lives.”
Shafeeq Gigyani recently launched we site for flood-affected people called, ‘floodpk.com’. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said that the recent flood is more alarming and devastating than the 2010 flood. “In developed countries, when they see or face such situations, they learn from it but in Pakistan, we never incorporate any lessons from the past. If we had taken precautionary measures then such devastation would not have occurred.”
“Billion Tree Tsunami was just politicised by the political parties and the government never stopped or arrested the timber mafia. If they had done so in the past, then such a situation would have never have taken place,” Gigyani added. He said that due to political differences, consecutive governments changed their policies and climate change was never deemed a priority. “Until the political parties are on the same page, we will continue to face such situations,” he lamented.
Environmental economist and associate professor Muhammad Rafique pointed to climate change as the main factor behind the intensity of the floods. He also pointed out that most of the worst affected hotels and houses were constructed right on the river belt. “The PDMA and other departments had already warned them of climate change and predicted the floods, but the government and other concerned departments did nothing to sensitise and make people aware so they can migrate to safer places in time.”
K-P Weather Department Deputy Director Muhammad Fahim confirmed that the floods this year were much worse than the ones in 2010. “Although a natural disaster cannot be stopped, the damage it causes can be reduced or even avoided with good policies and proper planning,” he added.