Urban flooding risk looms over Karachi

Heavy rainfall is predicted to wreak havoc in the city given KMC's superficial management of the drainage network

Syed Ashraf Ali June 02, 2024


For locals in Karachi, perpetually tolerating the disastrous aftermath of rainfall in the city, the word monsoon rarely brings to mind piping hot fritters and tea since the ever-looming risk of flooded houses, power blackouts and blocked roads casts aside any aspect of joviality from the upcoming season.

The monsoon season which occurs during the hot summer months in Pakistan, brings a spell of torrential rainfall which spreads across most areas of the country. Unfortunately however, as the malign effects of climate change start taking the country in its grip, the monsoon season too has observed a significant change in the duration and intensity of its downpours.

"The upcoming monsoon season, which will probably begin from July 1 up until September 30, is likely to bring more than usual rainfall across most areas of the country including Karachi," forecasted Sardar Sarfraz, the Chief Meteorologist.
In Karachi, the recent forecast comes as a warning for the Sindh government and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), who despite facilitating reconstruction work of the Orangi Nullah and Gujjar Nullah have failed to clean and unclog the connections of the surrounding 45 large and 514 small storm drains, which could easily cause many areas of the port city to go underwater during the intensified rainfall.

"Karachi is at serious risk of urban flooding after the recent forecast of unusually high rainfall since its drainage network is in a deplorable state. Most of the big and small drains of the city are full of garbage and the cleaning work has not yet started," implored Muhammad Tawheed, an urban planner, who urged the local authorities to devise a rain emergency plan in order to deal with unexpected rainfall.

Contrary to Tawheed's expectations, an officer from the KMC, speaking on the condition of anonymity revealed that after the federal government carried out construction work on the Orangi and Gujjar drains, it paid no heed to restoring the numerous connecting branch drains, which could overflow during heavy rains, causing the nearby densely populated areas to flood.

Read also: Sea breeze to bring relief to sweltering Karachi

"There are heaps of garbage in the small drains located near Shahra-e-Noor Jahan, Nagan Chowrangi, Shadman Town, Five Star Chowrangi and KDA Chowrangi," said Atif Khan, Chairman of North Nazimabad Town.

"Similarly, Adamji Nagar, Shabirabad, Muhammad Ali Society, Dhoraji, Union Commercial Area and other places in UC-8 are low-lying. If the drains are not cleaned in time, there is a risk of flooding these areas," concurred Junaid Makati, Chairman of Jinnah Town UC-8.

"Flooding is a concern after raining spells because waste bins in the city are located just next to the rain drains where overflowing waste keeps collecting due to irregular cleaning. Moreover, roads in the city are not constructed in such a way that drainage can occur by gravity. Therefore, after a rainy spell, rainwater stays on roads for hours, even though the international time for drainage is barely thirty minutes," opined Dr Syed Nawaz Al Huda, a regional planner.

According to a report by the KMC, rainwater stands for several hours after every rain spell across 19 areas in Karachi including Tower, PIDC, II Chundrigar Road, Shaheen Complex, Jinnah Bridge on Sharae-Faisal, Nursery, Karsaz, Natha Khan, FTC Flyover, Airport, Gurumandir on MA Jinnah Road, Business Recorder Road, Old Vegetable Market on University Road, Civic Centre, NIPA Chowrangi, Rashid Minhas Road, Stadium Flyover, Liaquatabad 10 Flyover and Karimabad Flyover.

"A rain emergency plan is underway. As soon as the funds are released, cleaning of all storm drains, big and small, will be started," assured Senior Director Municipal Services, KMC, Anwar Baloch. The Express Tribune visited the office of Municipal Commissioner, Afzal Zaidi to inquire about the status of storm drains and the policy of KMC regarding monsoons, but he refused to respond.

Map of Karachi highlighting areas at risk of flooding. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Map of Karachi highlighting areas at risk of flooding. PHOTO: EXPRESS


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