Water shortages: Unscheduled spillway opening creates chaos

The amount of water discharged on Saturday exceeded the amount discharged in the entire monsoon season.

Rustam Ejaz August 30, 2011


The spillway of Rawal Dam was opened on Saturday without any prior notification or arrangement, cutting a vital link between Islamabad and its rural areas.

The district administration has not taken any safety measure at the Korang Nullah, according to official sources. The amount of water discharged on Saturday exceeded the amount discharged in the entire monsoon season, an official said, adding that the flow of water was extremely fast and its level was very high.

Water coming from Murree is stored in Rawal Dam and has no link with monsoon rains. The spillways in Murree are opened whenever it rains. There is no coordination between the district administration and Rawal Dam authorities, while no security measures have been taken either, which poses a threat to peoples’ lives.

Local residents expressed shock over the discharge of water on Saturday. Talking to The Express Tribune, they said they were not told about the spillway being opened.

They added that residents had to cross the Korang Nullah using a manual lift, which is located at a village near Zia Mosque on Islamabad Expressway. Motorists had to travel an additional 10 kilometres to reach Islamabad, they added. Rawal Dam authorities told The Express Tribune that the water level in the dam had increased in a very short span of time, due to which immediate action had to be taken.

According to official sources, the gauge level was recorded at 534 metres, and the spillway was opened at a level of 533.4 metres, so that the dam can hold back enough water in case of a flood situation.

The Islamabad deputy commissioner was approached for comments on any safety measures, however, he was unavailable.

Last summer, water was released during the night without any prior notice, due to which two people lost their lives.  The district administration’s response at the time was that the Rawal Dam authorities discharged water without notifying them first.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2011.


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