Flooding risks: Top irrigation officials told to assess obstructions on water channels

Marvi Memon files petition on how far problem has been fixed.

Our Correspondent March 06, 2013
Monsoon floods killed 371 people and affected nearly 4.5 million in 2011, the second time in two years. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


Marvi Memon has landed the irrigation secretaries of Sindh and Punjab in hot water. She told the Supreme Court that she is not satisfied they have entirely cleared rivers of squatters, once again putting these areas at risk of flooding.

“As far as Sindh is concerned”, she told three Supreme Court judges Tuesday, “the irrigation authorities have not taken any action against the landlords encroaching on the riverbed, especially in parts of Badin.”

Memon had filed a petition that was being heard by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justices Gulzar Ahmed and Sheikh Azmat Saeed.

Monsoon floods killed 371 people and affected nearly 4.5 million in 2011, the second time in two years. The worst flooding in history took place in 2010, when catastrophic inundations across the country killed almost 1,800 people and affected 21 million.

The irrigation departments of the two provinces had been asked to comment on how far they had followed through on recommendations made by the Flood Commission 2011. The commission was formed by the Supreme Court to look into the way the riverbanks, embankments and canals were breached, leading to the flooding. And the judges were not satisfied with the certificates and response given by the irrigation departments.

The authorities had said that 80% of the encroachments were removed and they were working on the rest. The Sindh irrigation secretary told the court that the department had done whatever was possible within its means to clear the water channels of obstructions. His response drew the ire of the bench, as Justice Saeed observed whether the provincial irrigation department was admitting to incompetency when it came to the challenge of removing encroachments.

Memon also expressed her dissatisfaction. “I am not satisfied with the response of the authorities after going through their bulky report regarding the implementation of the commission’s recommendations.”

The court then directed the secretaries of irrigation of Punjab and Sindh to visit areas affected by the 2010 floods and examine the encroachments on river beds and water channels. The secretaries have to submit a response to Marvi Memon’s objections by the next hearing set for March 20.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2013.


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