Loopholes in infrastructure are causing the city to collapse in bits and pieces as inclement weather continues its assault. Poor drainage and encroachments that dot the bursting metropolis aided in the overflowing of Bhudni nullah on Sunday, suspending traffic on Charsadda Road. An emergency was declared by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government and teams of divers and rescuers were dispatched to Palosai, Nasir Bagh, Achini Bala and localities near Budni Pul on Charsadda Road.
“Residents in Usmania Colony on Warsak Road have placed sand-filled bags on the sides of the nullah to protect houses from flooding,” said a local government councillor, Manzoor Ali. Four days ago on Thursday, the same colony had flooded with waste when garbage and rainwater mixed and seeped into houses and shops. However, the problem repeated itself on Sunday when the nullah flooded.
Some residents also took shelter on roofs. Standing water caused traffic to suspend on Peshawar-Charsadda Road, disconnecting parts of the district.
According to DC Riaz Mehsud, the district government diverted traffic from the route, and asked transporters to use the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway instead to go to Charsadda. Ambulances were also deployed in vulnerable areas.
Rescue efforts and encroachment
Rescue 1122 teams have so far helped 40 people evacuate houses. The teams faced difficulties in evacuating the residents as encroachments blocked their access. Some people were also reluctant to leave their houses despite the flooding.
When contacted, Rescue 1122 Spokesperson Bilal Faizi said the teams included divers who were on the run—visiting flooded houses in rescue boats—to ensure timely evacuation and avoid loss of life.
Faizi added mostly children and older adults were the ones stranded.
Minister for Information Mushtaq Ghani also visited Bhudni Pul and monitored the situation. He directed the district government, police, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and Rescue 1122 to forcibly evacuate people even if they refuse so that loss of life can be avoided.
Warnings and arrangements
The PDMA had issued flood warnings and asked residents living on sides of the nullah to vacate their houses. But the warnings were repeatedly ignored, said PDMA officials.
PDMA Flood Warning Cell said 16,102 cusecs of water was flowing in Bhudni nullah; nullahs on Warsak Road and Gulbahar also overflowed, filling the streets with water and even entering nearby houses.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2015.