Perilous picnics: Power cuts drive people to Swat River and sudden deaths

Deputy commissioner says policemen will be deployed along watercourse but toll has risen to 20 this year.



MINGORA:


Twenty people have drowned in Swat River this year, according to locals and social activists.


Prolonged hours of load-shedding and fluctuating voltage supplies compel people to go for a swim in order to escape the sizzling heat. But snow melting as a result of the hot weather has raised the water level, making the river a deadly recreational spot.

“Two people who came for a swim drowned on Wednesday, taking the total number of victims to 20 this year,” said Aftab Khan, a social activist who warns people along the Swat River against taking on the strong current.

Their bodies were recovered in the evening the same day and were identified as those of Akhtar Ali and Gul Rehman.

Residents of Swat say they go to the river because they have no choice. “We are suffering more than 14 hours of load-shedding every day. When we do have power, the voltage is so low that we can’t even run a fan,” said Iqbal Biland, a resident of Mingora. Biland visits the riverside with his friend to enjoy the cool breeze and take a dip in the water.

The district administration has already deployed workers to stop people from swimming in the river. “To further control the situation, I will direct the police department to deploy more cops, especially in the deeper waters,” Deputy Commissioner Mahmood Aslam told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.

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