While the recent spell of rainfall added joy to Eid festivities for many, it also brought grief, hardships and sufferings for others, exposing the reality behind the city’s civic agency’s tall claims of cleaning and maintaining drains and sewerage systems.
As rain continued for the third day, three children were killed on Wednesday when the wall of their house collapsed in the outskirts of garrison city. The incident occurred in Kotli Sattian, where Ahmed Nawaz, a taxi driver by profession, told the police that his 16-year-old son and two daughters aged five and 10 were killed after being buried under the debris. Three other children and relatives who were in the same room survived unhurt, Nawaz said.
According to SHO Khalid Satti, the police and locals reached the house soon after the incident and dug out the bodies.
Meanwhile, several residential areas and major roads in Rawalpindi remained inundated due to heavy rainfall that started right after Eid prayers on Monday. Rainwater accumulated in the streets and created havoc for those visiting friends and family for Eid or going to graveyards for prayers.
The affected areas were Muslim Town, Service Road, Kurri Road, Chirah Road, Muhallah Imambargah and Pirwadhai, where vehicles could be seen stuck in water, creating a traffic mess.
While commenting on the situation, social and political worker Muhammad Ali Shahzad Bhatti blamed the Water and Sanitation Agency for failing to clear Nullah Leh of silt and solid waste. Earlier, the authorities had claimed that all drains had been properly cleaned and there was no danger of flooding during the monsoon season.
Residents faced great difficulties because rainwater inundated streets and gushed into their houses due to poor cleanliness arrangements made by the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board, , Tehsil Municipal Administraion, Wasa and the City District Government.
At the same time, the increase in water level in Nullah Leh has also increased the risk of possible floods.
Amid predictions of heavy rainfall and possible flooding in Nullah Leh, the City District Government has put the concerned departments on red alert and cancelled the Eid holidays of all employees. The residents of low-lying areas have also been warned to keep their belongings safe to avoid financial losses caused by rainwater gushing into houses.
Wasa Managing Director Raja Shaukat Mahmood also said that the police, Rescue 1122, Wapda, Rawalpindi Cantonment Board and education department have also been put on high alert to cope with any possible flooding in Nullah Leh. Help from the 111 Brigade, which has all the necessary lifesaving equipment, has also been sought, he explained.
Moreover, the authorities of Rawal Dam and Simli Dam have been urged to warn people residing in surrounding areas before releasing water. Chlorination of water schemes in rural areas and vaccination against water-borne diseases is also underway.
The control room will function round-the-clock and residents can call 051-9261504 in case of any emergency.
However, despite three days of rainfall, the water level in Simly Dam, Rawal Dam and Khanpur Dam - the major suppliers of water to the twin cities - did not increase to a great extent. The water level in Rawal Dam increased by only 1.5 acre-feet, while an increase of nearly 15 acre-feet is still required to meet the water requirements of the twin cities.
The water level in Khanpur Dam, where the water level increased by 1 acre-foot, is still at dead level, and the situation in Simly Dam is also unsatisfactory.
Mahmood added that the water level in the dams will only increase after heavy downpour in Murree and Margalla Hills. The Met office has predicted heavy downpour on Thursday, which will improve the situation, he said adding, the three dams only have a month’s supply of water left for residential use. (With additional input from Usama Zafar & Peer Muhammad)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.