SUKKUR: People living near the Indus River in Sukkur believe that they face no major flood threat and the government and media have exaggerated the situation.
“I wonder why the government and media were exaggerating the flood situation when in fact everything is normal here,” said Hameed Bhatti, a resident.
The villagers residing near the river bank say low-intensity floods have passed by several times without damaging the surrounding settlements.
“It only happened during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s time when there was a major flood crisis in Sindh,” said Islam Qambo, who resides in the old Sukkur area.
Qambo disputed claims that the water level in the river was rising and the flow was more than 400,000 cusecs. “The fact that the pillars of Sukkur Barrage are still visible negates these claims. The irrigation department is unnecessarily asking people to evacuate, probably for other reasons.”
An irrigation official at the Sukkur Barrage told The Express Tribune, however, that people do not understand the gravity of the situation and are coming up with their own theories. “If the water measured at Guddu was more than 600,000 cusecs, it will definitely increase by the time it hits Sukkur,” he said. He argued that all higher authorities have indicated that floods were likely to hit the area.
There are three different points on the Indus where the water level is gauged — Sadu Belo temple, the Rohri suspension bridge and a small island where the shrine of Pir Sadaruddin Shah is located.
The water marks were around seven inches above the current level, indicating that the water level has gone down. But the irrigation engineer explained that since all gates of the Sukkur Barrage were closed, the flow had become constant.
The left bank of the Indus that comprises the kachcha areas of Larkana, Khairpur and Naushero Feroze is more vulnerable to flood devastation than the right. In Khairpur Mirs district, a warning has been issued to villagers at Ulra Jageer Bund and the evacuation process has started.
“The water is three feet high at Ulra Jageer and by midnight it is expected to reach eight feet,” said sub-engineer Lal Buksh Khaskheli at the emergency site of the bund.
Workers at the relief camps set up by various departments at the emergency site were hopeful that the water will not cross the bund.
However, the villagers in the area were concerned that the relief authorities only had food and water supplies that would last for a week. “How can we survive on such inadequate food and water supplies? The government should ensure proper arrangements,” said Asghar, one of the villagers. There was also a high alert at the Ripri Bund and relief camps were set up by the administration in the area, but so far, no flood situation was reported there.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2010.
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