Fight or flight: Thousands abandon homes as river in Charsadda overflows

DC claims ‘situation is under control’, locals remain unconvinced.

Our Correspondent June 09, 2013
Locals inspect fields and houses in Guladad, Charsada flooded by the overflowing Jinday River. PHOTO: APP


Embankments along Kabul River worth Rs30 million were washed away on Saturday by rising water levels in areas including Jamat, Sarwai, Garhi Muhkam Shah, Tarkha, Weno Garhi.

Electricity poles were uprooted and washed away by the force of the flood, causing alarmed villagers to abandon their homes for safer places to avoid the catastrophes of the 2010 floods.

After people fled the area, Deputy Commissioner Charsadda Azam Khan Khalil visited the villages located on the river bank.

Khalil told journalists he considered the situation to be under control. “There are no signs of floods; people are panicking in fear of the horrific 2010 floods.” The deputy commissioner insisted the district government was ready to tackle any emergency situation and all required arrangements are in place. Social activist and an elder from Sarwai, Colonel (retd) Shams said they started vacating their houses and the area because otherwise they would soon be drowning in flood water, “just like 2010”.

DC Charsadda might have visited the area, inspected the rising water levels, but “the embankments have been washed away – how can it (the situation) be under control?” questioned Shams.

The flood water has swept away all electricity poles, and has spilled over onto the streets, pointed out the worried elder.

“Scores of people from small villages next to the river banks have started to leave their houses as they can see a flood-like situation emerging – despite the previous government’s construction of embankments,” said Jan Muhammad, a resident of one of the villages.

“The government wants nothing, but to drown us in these floods and collect more foreign aid on our bodies and destroyed houses,” he said, lashing out at the previous and current regimes.

“Government officials should not inspect the situation from helicopters; they should visit and help out those running in fear for their lives,” argued Jan. “Why would one leave their house if everything was ‘under control’? Is the government sane and the entire region’s population insane and so they leave the area?” said the angry resident.

Although the water levels are not so high; everyone is vulnerable – the embankments constructed by the Awami National Party’s government have washed away, reiterated Khair Muhammad, who had packed up his belongings and was preparing to leave his house. This makes the situation all the worse, he added. Khair was shifting to a safer location before his property was destroyed like in the previous floods.

“After living along the riverside for many years, we understand the water and its movements,” explained Khair. “These are flood conditions, even light rain on the northern hills can make things much worse,” he warned.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2013.


Hataf | 8 years ago | Reply

And where is the KPK government now? #PTI

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