Floods are expected to persist for another week in Sukkur, the government warned on Tuesday but played down fears that the pressure by more than a million cusecs water could burst the Sukkur Barrage.
Speaking at a news conference, a top official from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said that water from the second wave of flood will reach Sukkur in a couple of days.
State Information Minister Sumsam Bokhari said that the city still faces a real threat but the barrage is unlikely to be damaged by floodwaters – heaviest in the country’s history.
The minister added that all official agencies including the military are on heightened alert to cope with any situation that may arise out of the ensuing disaster. “We should be on our toes [to save Sukkur],” the minister said when asked whether the barrage was likely to burst.
The NDMA official said that the water from new floods might reach Sukkur to supplement the ones already passing from the city’s barrage, which can aggravate trouble for relief operators.
The warning comes amid a prediction by the flood forecasting division of the metrological department that River Indus at Kalabagh is likely to attain a very high flood level ranging between 690,000 to 780,000 cusecs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The river in Chashma is also expected to attain an exceptional high flood level ranging between 780,000 to 820,000 cusecs during the same period, and the level of water at Kotri will remain between 600,000 and 800,000 cusecs, according to the prediction.
The NDMA official said that the government will continue with the rescue and relief process till November, before initiating the rehabilitation of the survivors.
The World Bank will begin damage assessment soon after relief activities end, possibly by November, he added. The minister said the government might hold a donor conference to raise funds for rehabilitation once the assessment is done by the World Bank. “Before that we can’t be certain about the scale of the destruction,” he added.
He also said that the construction of Kalabagh Dam will only be considered if a political consensus is reached.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.
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