ISLAMABAD: With the monsoon around the corner, Pakistan’s top agency dealing with natural disasters has warned provincial governments to be on their toes for massive floods especially in lower Sindh and southern Punjab.
“It is going to be more dangerous this time…we need to be watchful and can not take it light,” National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chief Zafar Qadir told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
“We have asked the provincial governments to be vigilant and focus on preparedness and early response…we will have to put systems in place before it actually starts,” said Zafar as the authority prepares for a meeting on Monday.
The NDMA chief said the whole of lower Sindh including Thatha, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mirpur Khas, Umer Kot and Hyderabad districts were most vulnerable to flooding and hill torrents.
Similarly, districts of Muzaffargarh, Rajan Pur and Layyah in south Punjab were also at risk, not only from breaches in dykes on either side of Indus but also, from torrents flowing downwards from highlands.
Balochistan, especially the eastern parts of the province, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were relatively less likely to be hit by major floods this time, added Zafar Qadir.
His warning came amid a prediction by the metrological department of five to 15% above-normal rains this monsoon, posing a daunting challenge for the agencies like NDMA, its provincial arms and other humanitarian organizations.
Director General (DG) Met Services Arif Mahmood told The Express Tribune that the first monsoon system would enter Pakistan in the first month of July and there were predictions of up to 15% more downpours this season compared to an average of the past 30 years.
A pre-monsoon system, Mahmood added, would enter the country from southwest on Tuesday to cause from light to moderate rains all over Pakistan. This, he said, would bring some relief to people by lowering temperatures down.
Arif said the meteorological department was not in a position to predict with pinpoint accuracy the amount of rains expected in various parts of the country or issue a flood warning.
The department, however, would keep on issuing advisories from time to time, the chief added.
Pakistan has faced worst flooding of its history in 2010, affecting one fifth of the country’s population and rendering several hundred thousand homeless from Himalayas in the north to the deserts of Sindh in the south.
Next year again, a comparatively low intensity floods hit the country especially parts of lower Sindh.
Islamabad and the United Nations (UN) launched flash appeal to seek financial assistance from the international community but the response was lackluster because of doubts about Pakistan’s integrity to spend the money properly.
NDMA chief Zafar Qadir said the lack of funding was a major problem in dealing with natural disasters.
This year, he added, Punjab and Sindh government had not responded so fast to authorities’ call for allocating a significant amount for coping with floods.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.