KARACHI: Residents of Karachi are likely to play host to thousands of people from across the province in the coming weeks as flash flood victims make their way to the metropolis after losing almost everything they owned to the relentless torrents.
“We moved to Karachi as most cities and towns across Sindh are situated on the right side of the Indus River and are in danger of facing more floods. This is the only city safe from this kind of disaster,” said Anil Kumar, who was once a resident of Ghauspur, Kashmore.
He and his family are currently living at his maternal uncle’s house in Clifton. The arrangement is temporary, up until Kumar, who is an engineer, finds a place to rent. His uncle will be unable to house the entire family once Kumar’s brothers also arrive in Karachi.
Meanwhile, Kumar and his wife, Reeta, have been unable to sleep properly for the past four or five days. They were informed that their house in Ghauspur was robbed after they left while the city’s main bazaar had also been looted by criminals.
We took gold and money with us when we left home but had to leave everything else behind, said the couple.
Before they came to Karachi, Kumar’s family had been moving from one place to another to escape the floods. Warnings followed them wherever they went, forcing them to find another town or city where they could live safely.
“When we were told that our city might be hit by floods, we moved to a relative’s place in Kandhkot. We had to leave, however, when officials announced that Kandhkot will also be hit after breaches in the Tori Bund,” said Kumar, adding that that he had also planned to go to Hyderabad but had been dissuaded when he was told that it had also been hit.
“Most of the Hindus who lived in Kashmore moved to Karachi, Hyderabad, Shikarpur, Larkana or Quetta when the warnings started coming in,” said Kumar, who claimed that 80,000 people from the flood-affected areas have been shifted to safer places.
The rest are stranded as the Indus Highway has been completely submerged underwater, he added.
Although the floods have hit the kachcha areas the hardest, residents of Keti Bunder, Thatta, Shikarpur, Karampur, Khanpur, Lakhi Ghulam Shah, Sultan Kot, Gharhi Yasin, Dhakhan and Jacobabad have also decided to move to safer places out of fear.
Shikarpur is surrounded by canals, which have sustained multiple breaches, after which the water is moving towards the city at an alarmingly fast pace, said Hassan Qazi, a lecturer who is also thinking of moving to Karachi with his family.
He is not the only one, he says, as a large number of people from Shikarpur also want to move to Karachi after breaches were reported in Raes Wah, Sindhu Wah and Beghari Shaakh.
“The government has said that they cannot handle the floods. The role of the political parties seems dull and the international organisations working on disaster management have yet to turn up,” said a disheartened Qazi, who added that he does not want to risk his family’s security in such conditions.
Around 824,666 people from 2,444 villages in 19 districts of Sindh have been affected by the floods. A total of 629 villages have been flooded, sources from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) revealed.
The government is planning a breach near Ali Wahan to reduce the pressure of water in the Guddu and Sukkur barrages in efforts to save the structures, sources added, claiming that the government’s predictions about the intensity of the floods had failed.
PDMA director general Sualeh Farooqui told The Express Tribune that the water level at Guddu and Sukkur has reduced substantially after water was released through canals. He added, however, that the danger was far from over, not only for the kachcha areas, but also the established settlements.
“Larkana, Kamber-Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Shikarpur and Dadu have been alerted to the fact that they will be affected if breaches continue to take place. However, the scope of loss cannot be predicted,” he said.
Most of the roads have been submerged under water and there is no way to reach relief camps, said Farooqui, who added that millions of people had suddenly arrived at these camps, making relief efforts very difficult for the government to handle.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2010.
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