‘Army might be given control of Kotri’

The peak of the flood that is heading towards the barrage has instilled fear in the people of the area.

Hafeez Tunio August 13, 2010

KARACHI: The army may be deployed at the Kotri Barrage in the next couple of days and given control of the area, hoped Sindh irrigation department officials on Thursday.

The peak of the flood that is heading towards the barrage has instilled fear in the people of the area as the water level continues to rise. Officials said that the total capacity of the Kotri Barrage is around 875,000 cusecs. But the water flow is expected to reach 900,000 cusecs.

“Besides, the conditions of both sides of all embankments are very weak therefore the barrages and areas beyond it have been declared very sensitive,” officials warned, adding, “The Hyderabad General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General Shoukat Iqbal, visited the area to review the situation.”

Sauleh Farooqi, the director-general of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Sindh, said the civil administration can only manage the water flow till 700,000 cusecs at the Kotri barrage. “If the water level increases, then we would need to call the army,” he explained.

Meanwhile, authorities are also deliberating on breaching an embankment near Sehwan to reduce the flow of water.

“The embankment is in the hilly areas and so there is hardly any population there,” sources said, adding, “The government can take the decision, if necessary.”

The PDMA and official sources have been revealing statistics on the number of villages inundated and the number of people affected. But they are tight-lipped when they are asked about the death toll.

Independent sources claim that at least 20 people including women and children had died because of the flood. The death toll can go up, they add.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PDMA director operations Khair Muhammad Kalwar said they are collecting relevant data regarding human loss and will share it with the media soon.

“According to the information we have, five people, two in Khairpur, two in Kashmore and one in Ghotki, have died so far,” he said.

According to the Sindh Abadgar Board, a representative organisation of growers, more than 900,000 acres of agricultural land has been inundated and farmers growing paddy, sugarcane, cotton and vegetables are going to suffer losses amounting to more than Rs10 billion.

“Sindh has suffered a historical loss and we cannot, at the movement, give an exact amount but I can definitely say that the loss is in billions,” said Abdul Majeed Nizamani, the Sindh Abadgar Board president.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Sindh health department said 241 camps along with 91 mobile teams have been set up in all the districts of the province.

“A total of 79,543 patients have been given free medical treatment since July 31,” he claimed.

But the truth is after the flood hit the kachcha areas, children have been suffering from various diseases. People have been sleeping with empty stomachs.

There is no home, no wealth and no hope.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2010.


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