The first heavy monsoon spell in Mirpur wreaked havoc in a recently-constructed urban centre on Sunday.
Scores of houses in New Mirpur city were flooded, some damaged, while a number of roads were submerged following downpour. Soil in some blocks of the city caved in, destroying boundary walls of various houses, blocking sewerage lines and developing fissures in the newly-constructed houses built to accommodate families displaced as a result of the Mangla Dam Rising Project (MDRP).
Residents of the new city have blamed the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the Mangla Dam Resettlement Organisation (MDRO) for their loss, claiming that the devastation is a result of poor construction.
“The rains have revealed the poor quality of all construction work in the city,” said Sardar Attique Ahmed, a resident of the new city.
Mangla Dam Affected Young Action Forum Chief Organiser Madassar Jiraal said his organisation had been trying to bring to the attention of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government the faults in the construction work in New Mirpur City, “but no one was ready to hear our pleas”. He said that several houses have developed cracks as soil around their foundations has been displaced by rainwater, while a number of main and link roads have also been damaged as a result of soil caving in.
He added that soil has mostly been displaced in areas that where filled with mud during construction.
Tasleem Anjum, another resident, said that some sewerage lines and flash drains have been clogged by displaced mud and is causing inconvenience to residents as well as pedestrians.
Residents have demanded the AJK government to take notice of the poor construction work in New Mirpur City and take necessary measures to avert further destruction in the newly-established urban centre during monsoon.
No spokesperson of the MDRO was available to comment on the situation; however, an official, requesting to remain anonymous, said that Wapda, and not the resettlement body, is responsible for the construction work in the city.
Despite repeated calls, no official of the Wapda office could be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, the district administration has warned people to stay away from the banks of Mangla Dam, and those settled in the areas have been asked to relocate. The dam’s water level has been rising swiftly due to rains and melting of Himalayan glaciers. Its water level was recorded at 1,163 feet as on Monday, against a dead level of 1,140 feet.
Wapda has already announced to raise the reservoir’s water level to its highest level of 1,242 feet by the end of the year.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.