LAHORE: More than half a million people inhabiting settlements in the bed of River Ravi and along its banks will need relocation in case of a flood, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The settlements from Babu Sabu to Niazi Chowk including Ghoshal, Shafiqabad, Akram Park, parts of Union Council 84 and the areas surrounding the Saggian Bridge will be most vulnerable in case of a flood in River Ravi, a CDGL official said.
The areas from Niazi Chowk up to Bund Road that include Bhamian Gughian, Khokhar Pind, Karo and Mehmood Booti will be relatively less exposed, he said. The official said that there were numerous thickly populated slum settlements in these areas. “We will have to evacuate all these settlements if the flow in Ravi reaches 90,000 cusecs,” he said.
Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, the district coordination officer (DCO), said the district administration was prepared to face any situation. He, however, denied an immediate threat, “The water level in the river is low. There is no immediate threat to the settlements in its surroundings.” Bhutta said that all arrangements were complete and notices had already been issued to the people inhabiting the endangered areas.
Muhammad Ajmal Shad, the Flood Forecasting Division Lahore director, told The Express Tribune that the water flow in the Ravi stood at 21,400 cusecs. This, he said, was below the low-flood discharge of 50,000 cusecs. Shad said that there would be a threat to settlements along the banks if discharge in Ravi exceeds 90,000 cusecs. He mentioned that discharge at Jassar (the point where Ravi flows into Pakistan) normally remains around 2,000 cusecs. On Saturday, however, it was recorded at 4,900 cusecs, he said. “It is premature to say that there will be a risk of flood,” he said, “The situation can change if India decides to open the gates of the dams it has built on Ravi.”
The River Ravi originates in Himachal Pradesh in India stretches up to 720 kilometres before flowing into the Chenab in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2010.
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