The people of disaster-hit Badin suffered another blow as the dykes of the Guni-Phuleli saline drain finally gave way and the salt water overflowed.
About 250 villages were inundated and had to be evacuated. Badin DCO Kazim Hussain Jatoi imposed Section 144 that prohibits people from making deliberate breaches in waterways in their desperate attempt to drain their homes. Right now, the district administration is also helping the irrigation stem the flow of water spilling over from the Ameer Shah saline drain.
The drain did not overflow because of the rain in the district but because of water flowing into it from the districts upstream – Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Nawabshah – that were hit hard by the downpour.
Badin is home to 123 fresh water channels which are fed by three canal systems, and 118 saline water drains. The drains either fall in the Left Bank Outfall Drain or into the sea.
In the past few weeks, the district felt some hope – the number of relief camps had gone down to 92 from 414 – indicating recovery. But on Monday, the number rose to 134 again with up to 39,000 people rendered homeless.
The Pakistan Navy rescued around 500 people but thousands of people are still believed to be stranded in villages. Others have erected makeshift tents along the roadsides, as the fields across the roads are lost under three to four feet of water.
“This time around the faulty drainage and irrigation system has led to the flooding,” admitted a Sindh Irrigation Drainage Authority (SIDA) official.
The official also feared that the LBOD will overflow if the rains persist. “It is carrying water four to five times more than its capacity of 4,600 cusecs.” At reduced distance (RD) 245, where SIDA has a base camp, the water hit a height of 15.5 feet – only half a foot below the spill-over level.
The drainage authority has asked the district administration to prepare for a large-scale evacuation from the areas of Tando Bago and Golarchi tehsils. They feel the situation will be disastrous if the LBOD water levels continue to rise.
According to a report by the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) the River Indus is at a low level flood at Guddu-Sukkur reach, and the level of the river is rising at the Sukkur Barrage.
The Pakistan Metreological Department predicted heavy rain in Sindh in the next 36 hours. Mirpurkhas received 63mm in the past 24 hours.
The monsoon rains have destroyed 255,000 acres of cotton crops in Sanghar – three quarters of the 340,000 acres sown in the district. Agriculture is the backbone of Sanghar’s economy and the Sindh Small Growers Association has urged the government to declare the district calamity hit so that they too can have their agricultural taxes waved and be granted soft loans.
On Monday, figures released by the Sindh Agriculture Department showed billions of rupees in losses to the district’s crops. Though Sanghar emerged unscathed from the first wet spell, the downpour from August 30 hit the area hard.
Initial surveys suggest that 30% of Sanghar’s 35,000 acres of sugarcane crop have been destroyed completely.
According to the Khairpur DCO, Abbas Baloch, over one million acres of farmland has been inundated. The army was called to Faiz Ganj and many areas have been cut off.
In Thatta over 50 villages have been flooded. “The deluge affected 1,565 villages where 24,220 houses have been razed while another 26,600 have been partially damaged,” Tando Muhammad Khan DCO Syed Barkat Rizvi told the CM, adding that 250,000 people have been badly affected in total. The district government has set up 70 relief camps to accommodate 8,419 rain displaced people.
With additional information from PPI and AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.