Cloudy skies


Editorial July 23, 2010

While the monsoon – a subject of poetry, song and prose in the region – is romanticised as an event which breaks the stifling heat of early summer, the rains have in recent years acquired a distinctly darker side. This year we already have reports of at least 47 deaths. The worst damage has come in the Barkhan and Kohlu areas of Balochistan where flash floods caused by sudden downpour have claimed several dozen lives and affected some 10,000 people. There is a political as well as humanitarian connotation to this. With a heavy monsoon forecast for the year, we can expect worse to lie ahead, with the skies over many areas remaining distinctly grey. In the Punjab capital, the chief minister has zealously been attempting to restore order as civic authorities scramble to persuade him of their ability to remove the rain water which has inundated roads everywhere, whilst residents of smaller towns have been left to fend largely for themselves. This begs the question of why water accumulates every year and why civic agencies cannot get right the rather simple and basic job of keeping drains in working order? In Gujranwala, Sambrial, Sialkot, Sheikhupura and other urban centres the situation is catastrophic. Fallen trees have blocked even the largest roads cutting off links, water has flooded markets and residential areas and power has been suspended for hours.

In an age of civilisation, one would accept authorities to be able to cope better with rains. They are, after all, an event which occur every year. It is not too much to ask cities to be set up in a manner where they can cope with the downpours without falling into complete disarray. This is all the more crucial as the rains, like other natural hazards, target the most vulnerable of people. The plight of those who live in shanty settlements scattered across urban centres is truly grim; it is in the more impoverished localities too that gutters are blocked for the longest periods, that power wires are left unrepaired and where disease spreads fastest. We need authorities to pay urgent attention to the issue and do all that is possible to spare other lives being wasted before the months of rain end.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.

COMMENTS (1)

cmsarwar | 11 years ago | Reply Your editorial does not take notice of the well-thought out,far-sighted,meticulously planned and ably executed strategy of the Punjab CM,the great Shahbaz Sharif,to face monsoon related problems.Standing knee-deep in rain water,talking to the media,should be the ultimate in achievement for a model administrator.
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