Met office forecasts heavy floods in July-August
ISLAMABAD: Though floods have become annual feature for the last six years, the government has neither a ‘flood protection plan’ in hand since 2012, nor authorities look serious in taking it on priority amid forecast again of ‘heavy floods’ during July-August this year, ‘The News’ reliably learnt on Saturday.
“There is forecast that in July-August, floods can again hit the country, but when there is no plan, then how action can be taken to cope with the calamity, a top official of the Meteorological Department told ‘The News’ on condition of anonymity.
“Since 2012, not a single penny has been released by the government to mitigate the challenge, because there is no plan in hand,” he said. Floods normally affect the rural areas, while no government in the past has focused on it and is just allocating a billion rupees for it, but devastation and losses are in billions every year.
Interestingly, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had also rejected the proposed Rs177.66 billion 10-year National Flood Protection Plan (NFPP) on the grounds of being ‘cut-pasted’ and having unrealistic financial demands, a top official told this correspondent on condition of anonymity.
Officials who were given the job at the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) under the Ministry of Water and Power to formulate and typewrite the NFPP have apparently cut-pasted the previous plan’s material, as a number of misrepresentation of facts have gone into the new one, an official who attended the CCI meeting said.
Besides, the demand for the construction of politically-sensitive Kalabagh Dam went into the latest proposed plan that offended the chief ministers of the Sindh and KP, an official told The News.
Under the Water and Power Ministry, the commission formulated the ten-year plan through World Bank funding. Internationally renowned experts in water resources and flood management, “The Deltares” of Netherlands along with (Nespak) were engaged in this exercise.
Chairman FFC Asjad Imtiaz Ali said, “We are consulting with the provinces and in a month, we will again submit the proposed plan to the CCI for approval. This is ten-year plan, while in routine, every year a billion rupees are allocated and the amount is spent in consultation with provinces to strengthen the dykes or building new ones and other activities.”
When asked whether the CCI had rejected the proposed plan for being cut-pasted and having unrealistic financial demands, Ali said, “There was no such issue, however, some typo errors were there. We will be taking it to CCI almost having the same financial demands, however can be a little bit changed after having meetings with provinces.”
This flood protection plan will span over 2015-16 to 2024-25 and aims at integrated flood management by focusing on non-structural measures such as reservoir operations, flood forecasting and early warning, flood risk zoning, watershed management, flood proofing and insurance, disaster management and other measures, he said.
Pakistan is in world’s top ten countries which are most vulnerable to climate change. For the last six years in a row, floods have hit the country, devastating crops and properties, leaving thousands of people displaced and the economy suffering losses in billions.
The frequency of extreme climate events, shift of monsoon rainfall zone from North-east to North-west, intense, concentrated monsoon rains in short time of interval, inconsistent behaviour of monsoon and erratic flash flood events are the major future challenges. Pakistan being an agricultural economy, this also adversely affects its food security.
The 2010’s historic devastating flood had affected one-fifth of Pakistan. It displaced 20 million people, destroyed a million houses, washed away infrastructure and one tenth of standing crops and killing innumerable livestock.
It caused more devastation than combined damages of Asia’s tsunami, 2005’s earthquake in Kashmir and Haiti earthquake.
The World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates, in money terms, the 2010’s flood damages were to the tune of $10 billion. After that, almost every year the flood hit Pakistan inflicting billions of dollars losses on economy.
“During the past six years, overall damages due to floods are almost equal to total flood damages in preceding 60 years.” Floods are the most devastating natural disasters and are generally caused by heavy concentrated rainfall in the catchments areas during the monsoon season (July through September).