The floods in Punjab, which caused havoc in the southern part of the province, have now also affected central Punjab – with more areas under threat as the level of water rises throughout the province’s rivers. The worst affected areas include low lying areas in and around Rajanpur, Multan, Mianwali, Gujrat, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Chiniot. More flood water is expected to pass through these areas in the coming days. The Federal Flood Commission has warned that there were chances of abnormal flooding in Punjab. Even though Punjab has seen less deaths than either AJK or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, livestock and crops in the affected areas – spread over thousands of acres – have been severely damaged. The floods have not spared the already-inadequate infrastructure either. The ones who have suffered the most are the poor. Damage reviews usually show that households and businesses incur the majority of the damage during floods, followed by infrastructure and impact on education.
Just ten days ago, the Punjab government said that it had completed its pre-flood arrangements throughout the province. The government promised all the right things: that flood centres would be set up, army and Punjab Constabulary teams would be deployed in areas with high flood risk, and that drinking water, food and medical facilities would be provided. However, by and large nothing was done. Those affected by the rising water are stranded and government aid is nowhere to be found. Since there is no concept of insurance of houses, businesses or agricultural lands against flooding, those affected will be left to fend for themselves. The reconstruction of the infrastructure will take some time, as is apparent from the rehabilitation of areas struck by calamities in the past few years.
The provincial chief minister also recently announced a threefold raise in compensation in case of death from floods. Such superficial measures and statements rarely take care of the real problem. What the province needs is a long term, continued and increased investment in reducing flood risk.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2010.
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