Several riverbed settlements in Athara Hazari, Jhang, have been inundated by water released from Mangla Dam on River Jhelum. Residents of almost 30 villages said that they were not prepared and had been left to fend for themselves.
Abdul Aziz, a resident of Chandana, said villages including Thathi Gul, Khokhar, Ahmad Abad, Sangra, Aliyana, Sahjhar, Macchiwal, Jhok Bharani, Kot Maldew, Umrana, Naik Ahmad, Athara Hazari and Munday Syed were submerged in flood water.
“Almost all of the residents were caught unawares,” he said.
Athara Hazari Assistant Commissioner Syed Ehsan Raza told The Express Tribune that the Mangla Dam authorities had released 72,000 cusecs water into River Jhelum because of de-silting work at the dam.
The river, he said, had changed its course and flooded villages around Athara Hazari.
“The villages are situated on what used to be the riverbed…it has been dry for many years and several settlements have appeared. People have constructed houses on the riverbed,” he said.
Raza said that they had constituted several rescue teams to help the stranded villagers onto safe ground.
He said that no lives had been lost and because the villagers had already harvested the wheat fields, there wasn’t much damage to crops.
Officials of the Health Department has also set up camps, he said.
“We helped villagers transport their belongings to safe locations.”
Preparing for floods
Bahawalpur DCO Imran Sikandar Baloch supervised a rescue drill at Head Punjnad on Friday. The practice drill was conducted to prepare for a possible flood situation in the area.
Several officials of the Rescue-1122, Health, Agriculture, Police, Revenue, Civil Defence and Information Departments participated in the practice drill.
Rescue-1122 officials gave a demonstration of how to save a person from drowning and administer first aid.
Camps were set up at safe locations.
District Zimidara Pier, Flood Protection Pier, Left Marginal Pier, Colony Protection Pier, Shekrani Pier and Head Panjnad Pier were examined for possible vulnerability.
Baloch directed officials to remove encroachments on the piers.
The DCO expressed satisfaction with the rescue drill and told the participating departments to improve their capacity.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2015.
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