ISLAMABAD: While fears surrounding the endurance of Sindh’s frontline barrages in the face of unprecedented floodwaters had apparently begun to subside, the government on Thursday issued fresh warnings for the Sukkur and Kotri barrages.
It is feared that water from the flooded eastern rivers – Sutlej, Chenab, Ravi and Jhelum – can combine with the fresh floodwaters in the Indus to make the second wave in Sindh as big as the first one.
A warning was also issued for two more cities in Sindh – Thatta and Hyderabad – and some districts in Punjab – Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Hafizabad and Mandi Bahauddin –due to flooding in Chenab.
The new surge of around a million cusecs of water is likely to reach Sukkur on the evening of Aug 14, and an exceptionally high flood is expected to persist there for more than 24 hours, according to the latest warning issued by the metrological department.
The first flood surge has, however, started receding at Sukkur and is now moving downstream towards Kotri where the barrage is being closely monitored, said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.
The minister said flood is now threatening Thatta and Hyderabad which may be submerged if floodwater overflows protective embankments along the Kotri Barrage. The provincial government, he added, was evacuating people from the low-lying areas around these cities.
The second flood wave in Indus River is currently passing Taunsa and it may get as large as the first one when it reaches Sukkur over the weekend.
Kaira said the discharge at Sukkur may peak around a million cusecs, almost similar to the one which had already passed through it.
“This peak is also dangerous…This is an alarming situation,” Kaira said.
The minister said the most dangerous thing about the situation was the persistence of floods over a two-week period.
The situation may worsen with forecasts of more rains in Azad Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, including the catchment areas of Chenab. Fresh rains would continue through Sunday.
In Sindh, federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that all relevant institutions and organisation were working to overcome the threats of possible breaches at Sukkur and Kotri barrages, which had constantly been sustaining high water discharge pressures.
In the meantime, meteorological department issued a fresh flood warning in River Chenab at Marala.
It said high flood discharge level, ranging between 200,000 and 250,000 cusecs, is expected to pass there on Thursday and Friday.
A similar flood level is expected at Khanki in Chenab over the same period, with the potential to inundate low-lying areas of Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Mandibahauddin districts.
River Indus at Guddu is likely to attain exceptionally high flood level, ranging between 900,000 and 1,000,000 cusecs sometime between Thursday evening and Friday.
Under this scenario, flooding in low-lying areas of districts Khairpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Sukkur is expected.
According to latest hydrological conditions, River Indus at Sukkur is likely to attain exceptionally high flood level between 900,000 and 1,000,000 cusecs on Aug 14 and 15 with the potential to submerge low-lying areas of Sukkur, Larkana, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and ausheroferoze districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2010.