Monsoon upon us: PDMA warns of urban flooding in Karachi

Low-lying areas of Malir and Lyari at risk of flooding from the swelling of rivers

Oonib Azam July 22, 2015
Raindrops fall on the window of a vehicle. Karachi witnessed 12mm of rainfall on Tuesday night and some light showers on Wednesday but there is a forecast for heavy rainfall starting Thursday. PHOTO: INP


After the first spell of monsoon rains hit the metropolis on Tuesday night, warnings of urban flooding have been issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

According to PDMA assistant director Ajay Kumar, the warning has been issued on the recommendation of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. "There are chances of flash floods in low-lying areas of Karachi, such as Malir and Lyari," he said, adding that it was possible that the nullahs attached to the river belt may experience some floods.

Meanwhile, the met office forecasted heavy rainfall in the city starting today and lasting till Monday. The heavy rains can cause urban flooding. "Around 50 to 60mm of rain is expected in a day," said a met department official. "We have seen in the past that the city comes to a standstill with only 20mm of rainfall."

Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui insisted that all municipal departments are ready. "We have made our best possible efforts, the rest is in the hands of God," he said.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation's (KMC) senior municipal director Masood Alam warned that the city will be submerged in rainwater as it was impossible for their department to clean all storm water drains due to encroachments.  "Around 60 per cent of the waste that enters the drains is solid waste, which is supposed to be managed by the district municipal corporations," he said. "We clean the drains one day and the second day people start dumping their trash in them."

Meanwhile, water board's managing director Hashim Raza Zaidi said that most sewage lines have been cleaned. People should not open the manholes to drain out rainwater, he urged. "This damages our sensitive sewerage lines."

Neglect exposed

Mere 12mm of rainfall on Tuesday night exposed the incompetence of the KMC, the water board and the electricity utility. The mild thunderstorm started at around 11pm on Tuesday but caused 120 of K-Electric's 1,450 feeders to trip. Parts of DHA, Clifton, Korangi, Federal B Area, PIB Colony, Soldier Bazaar, Saddar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Liaquatabad, Garden, New Karachi, North Nazimabad, Site, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Landhi, Shah Faisal and Malir faced power outages.

KE spokesperson Osama Qureshi accepted their failure but went on to add to compare Karachi to cities in North America to claim that Karachi's power breakdown was not as bad as some of the cities in the US and Canada. "The power failure on Tuesday night was not a breakdown," he said. "A breakdown is something due which the entire city plunges into darkness. There were a few faults last night and our teams were present on the ground." He insisted that all the faults were restored by 5am. On the areas that were without electric supply until Wednesday evening, he said they must be areas with power thefts.

Citizens' plight

It was merely five minutes after the first rain drop fell that power supply was cut off in DHA Phase II, said a resident, Yusra. "Power supply was restored at 9am after more than 10 hours and then it was shut down again at 11am," she said.

North Nazimabad Block-J resident Ali Asghar also cursed the power utility for the prolonged outage. "We did not have water for 10 days and now that the tanker finally arrived, we had no power to get the tank filled up."

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.