The first spell of monsoon rains that hit the country’s financial hub on Saturday left parts of Karachi paralysed bringing some areas of the city to a grinding halt.
While most of the experts believe that the heavy rain inundated several areas, including Saadi Town, the residents of the area have contrasting views.
The locals allege that a breach in the newly constructed Gaddap weir is what caused the flooding. Manzoor Jokhio, resident of Ghulam Muhammad a village located near Thado Dam said that the dam spilled over at around 9pm on August 3. “It overflowed, but that is not what caused the flooding in Saadi Town and its surrounding villages,” he added.
Supporting Jokhio’s view, Rafique Chhutto another resident of the area told The Express Tribune that it was the newly constructed dam, Lat Dam, officially known as Gaddap Nai, which caused the flooding in the nearby areas. “Saadi Town is on the route of the natural flow of rainwater,” he claimed, adding that the Thado dam had never caused any damage since its construction 10 years ago.
Thado Dam is located in Gaddap Town, some 18 kilometres from the highway while the Gaddap weir is 16 km from the main road but the route to water for the weir is just 10km from the dam.
Pointing out at the site of the Thado Dam, Chhutto asked: “If there was a breach why it is still filled with water and why is the Lat Dam empty?” He traced the natural routes of both the dams and said that water from the Thado Dam falls in the Malir River while the water stored in the Lat Dam takes a route that passes through Saadi Town, Safora and Pehalwan Goth.
Supporting the view Mehrab another local stated that the spillover was because the weir was constructed closer to the dam. “The weir was to be constructed about 10 km away from its present site,” he said adding that the change in site was due to the ‘influence’ of landlords in the area.
Breach in Gaddap weir took place on its right side on Saturday evening, sweeping away trees, roads and shanties, crossing Super Highway and finally hitting Saadi Town and its adjacent residential areas. The sudden flood caused chaos not only for people living in residential schemes but also those villagers who are living in Gaddap Town for years.
Former Sindh relief minister and chairman of the Pakistan Relief Foundation (PRF), Haleem Adil Sheikh, also alleged that the destruction following the floods in Saadi Town and other villages was due to the newly constructed weir. “It is the location of the dam that is selected in haste,” he said. “The floods will occur in the areas in future, if proper investigation is not conducted,” he added.
Sheikh demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter saying, “The dam has been constructed on the natural route of rainwater. It is a serious issue. Several villages had been hit and there could be massive destruction in the city in future”.
Irrigation officials, however, deny this, saying that it is the ‘delay in releasing of funds which has halted the construction of five more weirs’ which consequently caused the damage.
“It is not the dam but the weir which caused the damage due to the heavy rains,” said Jam Mitha Khan, advisor in the irrigation department. Khan, who is also the project director superintendent engineer of the Small Dams Organisation Circle Sindh, rejected all allegations by villagers and Sheikh, saying that the site was not changed under any ‘influence’. “The site was selected by dam experts and the work on the dam is still under way,” he maintained.
“The weir is just a barrier and could stop rainwater for 24 to 48 hours. We’ll have to construct five to six such weirs to manage the water,” Khan revealed. “It could make the whole area green if all proposals are implemented in later and spirit,” Khan added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2013.