ISLAMABAD: The meteorological department issued fresh flood warnings on Wednesday, putting parts of Punjab and Sindh on alert.
The department warned of floods in Hyderabad district, which could spread devastation further south in Sindh, and issued a “significant” flood forecast for Kalabagh and Chashma in Punjab.
The met department also said that River Indus at Chashma was likely to continue in very-high to exceptionally-high flood, ranging between 0.78 million to 0.82 cusecs on Wednesday and Thursday. At Kotri, it is likely to attain a flood level ranging between 0.6 million to 0.8 million cusecs.
Local governments in both provinces also issued warnings about more flooding in the days ahead, although Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah acknowledged that the immediate danger had passed.
Punjab officials said that more than 90 per cent of the town of Kot Addu had emptied and that flooding had cut electricity and gas production, shutting down thousands of factories.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped government said that it would seek donations from wealthy Pakistanis and multilateral donors from abroad to rehabilitate flood survivors.
“We plan to hold separate conferences for national and international donors…possibly in three months when the rehabilitation phase begins,” Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters.
“It is going to be a major appeal,” he added.
On August 6, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had made a televised appeal to urge the world community, overseas Pakistanis and corporate leaders to generously help the country cope with the catastrophe.
The international community has so far contributed a little under $95 million in cash and kind to respond to what the UN has called one of the worst humanitarian crises any country has faced in recent years. The UN, earlier in the day, launched a flash appeal in New York for $459 million to provide initial relief – food, clothing and shelter – to flood survivors across Pakistan.
“We need much more than that,” Kaira said. “The donations [the government will ask for] will be in addition to the flash appeal.” More international aid has reached Pakistan, but it does not appear to be a match of the scale of devastation that the floods caused.
CUTS IN BUDGET
Already facing a grim fiscal imbalance, Pakistan would have to put another cut on its budgetary allocation for undertaking development initiatives such as building roads and water, electrifying villages and supplying potable water to the population.
Kaira said that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) – a constitutional body that makes important political and economic decisions involving the federal and provincial governments – would soon meet to propose the proportion of budget cuts.
He did not give a date for the meeting but an official at the Prime Minister’s secretariat said that it could take place next week when water levels in rivers were expected to recede.
NO LET UP
Kaira said that although water was receding from Sukkur and flowing downstream to Kotri, another wave would be reaching the city in the next 24 hours. “The consistent flow of water can erode more lands,” Kaira said, “and there are chances for more rains. There are still another 15 days of monsoon remaining.”
Besides Pakistan’s eastern rivers – Sutlej, Chenab, Ravi and Jhelum – are also in high flood, making the situation worse. “All this requires more preparation…updates have been issued to all departments,” he said. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune August 12th, 2010.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ