High-rise homes or not, we’re outta here!

Many residents of the high-rise buildings near the Indus River bank have also evacuated their apartments.


Hafeez Tunio August 23, 2010

KARACHI: As floodwaters approach Hyderabad, residents of makeshift houses are not the only ones who fear that that their belongings will be swept away with the torrents.

Many residents of the high-rise buildings near the Indus River bank have also evacuated their apartments, while others are living in constant fear that the floods may drown their homes.

Baqar Shah, a mechanical engineer who lives on the fourth floor of the Hyderabad Development Authority apartments in Nasim Nagar, has shifted his family to his native village in Badin, which he says is currently safe from floods.

“We have taken necessary belongings with us and have packed other things before leaving our apartments,” said Shah. He added that a large number of people who live in apartments have moved out, leaving one or two people from their families to look after their belongings.

Nasim Nagar, Sehrish Nagar, Latifabad No. 1 and 10 have been declared as “vulnerable points” by the irrigation officials, where the flow of water is currently 853,000 cusecs and is likely to exceed 900,000 cusecs.

In case of any breaches, high-rise buildings in the Agriculture Complex near Wahdat Colony Chowk, Faraz Villas, Abdullah Homes, Princes Town, Abdullah Town and Abdullah Blessings in Nasim Nagar, Husainabad and Latifabad, are likely to be flooded with water.

However, Manzoor Ahmed Shaikh, a chief engineer at Kotri, told The Express Tribune that there is no danger to any high-rise building located near the Indus River.

“We have issued notices to people living on the embankments, but Qasimabad and Latfiabad are safe. The water level is currently at a critical stage and the ‘vulnerable points’ are very dangerous, but the water can easily pass us by and move towards Thatta,” he said.

“I don’t want to leave my apartment because I know that 900,000 cusecs of water can pass us by easily. However, my family and neighbours are scared,” said Munawar Hassan, a retired irrigation department officer who lives on the sixth floor of the Agriculture Complex.

However, his cousin’s family, which also lives in an apartment, left despite Hassan’s numerous attempts to convince them that it was not as dangerous to stay as they believed.

“When the water will suddenly reach the car-parking garage, you will remember our warning,” Hassan quoted them as saying.

Dr Pardeep, who hails from Jacobabad, currently lives with his family of five in Abdullah Homes. He said that his family has been unable to sleep properly ever since they heard the news that the water level has exceeded 700,000 cusecs.

“I went to the Indus River with some other Hindu families a couple of days ago and prayed for safety from any kind of disaster,” said Pardeep, who explained that the Hindus refer to the river as the “Darya Badshah” (River King) and worship it.

“We can neither go to relief camps, nor to any relative’s house,” he said, adding, “God will save us. I think that the waterflow will pass us by without any losses.”

Meanwhile, most people are either moving to their native towns or their villages while those whose villages are located near the river are headed towards relief camps.

“More than 100 houses are constructed along the river bank, near Latifabad and Sehrish Nagar. More than 3,000 people have left Latifabad within the last two days and have sought shelter at camps, where the number of flood survivors has reached 12,000,” Sukkur Lashari, a local journalist, told The Express Tribune.

He said that camps in Latifabad, Qasimabad and New Sabzi Mandi are overpopulated and most IDPs are suffering from skin diseases and gastroenteritis.

“Around 200 pregnant women are also living at these camps where medical arrangements are unsatisfactory,” he added.

It was also learnt that people living at camps are not getting proper food while police officials are seen charging with batons towards people during the distribution of food. Official sources from the relief department also told The Express Tribune that funds amounting to Rs3 to Rs5 million - that are issued to various district administrations every day for food expenses -  are not being utilised properly.

Resources are being utilised in a transparent manner and the district administration attending to every flood survivor without any discrimination, said Hyderabad District Coordination Officer Aftab Ahmed Khatri, who added, “All government machinery has been mobilised and the protective embankment is being monitored round the clock.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2010.

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