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Special Report:
Flood Crisis

1
 

 
Flood commission report be implemented

Flood Crisis Home

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the federal and provincial governments to implement the recommendations in the flood inquiry commission report regarding the alleged unauthorised diversion of floodwater through breaches, DawnNews reported.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing the petitions. The court ordered the governments to submit an implementation report after every 15 days.

In the 2010 floods, several ministers had been blamed for encouraging illegal acts promoting encroachments to save their lands.

The Flood Inquiry Commission submitted its 200-page final report in the Supreme Court, revealing that the negligence of the Irrigation departments of Sindh and Balochistan had caused a colossal loss of Rs855 billion to the national economy during the devastating floods of 2010.

After taking the report, the court ordered that the report be translated into Urdu and made public. The court held that orders for implementation of the commission’s recommendations would be announced on Tuesday.

 


According to the report, 1,600 people lost their lives and thousands were injured. Almost 4.5 million people lost their jobs, mostly in the farming sector. The Rabi crops for 2010-11 were badly affected and 20 million people became internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 7.0 million students were deprived of their academic session. The report said the encroachments contributed to obstructions in the flow of water resulting in flooding of many areas.

On December 15, 2010, the apex court had constituted the Flood Inquiry Commission, headed by Muhammad Azam Khan and comprising Fateh Khan Khajjak, A.W Kazi and Kh Zaheer Ahmed, to investigate the damages caused by the 2010 flood that engulfed Pakistan and caused unprecedented damage to life and property.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the matter on the letters of renowned lawyer Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, Deputy Chairman Senate Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, Dr Asad Leghari, Muhammad Rahim Baloch and advocate Zahida Thebo, requesting the chief justice to probe the matter of breaches in dykes and unauthorised diversion of floodwaters by influential people to save their lands.

Later, Marvi Memon, a PML-Q MNA, had also filed a petition on the matter. Memon requested that the court order the government to explain the reasons behind breaches in the dykes, canals and other irrigation infrastructure in Sindh and Balochistan during the floods.

“Thousands of acres of ‘katcha’ lands have been illegally encroached upon by local influentials or have been leased out at nominal charges, resulting in erection of private bunds. Construction of houses and other built-up properties has been allowed along riverbanks and canals. The local and provincial governments have themselves indulged in encouraging illegal acts promoting encroachments,” the report said.

The Commission recommended that it should be ensured that all the illegally-constructed structures on government lands, which had been destroyed by the recent floods, should not be allowed to be re-erected. It noted that some governments sold out their acquired lands in pond areas to raise revenue, while under the law, no construction of any infrastructure was allowed to be erected within a distance of 200 feet from banks of the river/streams.

The report noted had the Munda Dam been constructed, there would have been minimal damage downstream in Charsadda, Peshawar and Nowshera districts and Munda Headworks. The report further observed that the Tori Bund had not been repaired for the last many years.

According to the report, the flood loss is estimated at 5.8 percent of the total GDP and about 20 million people faced an acute shortage of food, while 3.5 million children’s education and 4.5 million persons’ livelihood were hit by the floods.

The report said the embankments were breached due to the negligence and corruption of the Irrigation departments. Local influential persons had encroached thousands of acres of land in katcha areas. Among those directly responsible for the deluge of Guddu are the chief engineer, in-charge XEN and their staff, the report said.

The report said major damage was caused due to lack of maintenance and repair of river embankments, canals and obstruction by major highways/motorways constructed by the Irrigation department and the National Highway Authority (NHA) and others across the country.

The report said that flood victims were not given help in time and because current early warning facilities in the country were of a limited nature. “There are only seven radars in the whole country. There is no coverage in the northwest of the country and Balochistan, including the coastal belt of 960 km,” the report pointed out.

The report said the chief and irrigation secretaries of Sindh had tried to conceal the facts while irregularities were found in the Sindh Irrigation Department. The commission recommended a 10-year audit of the department. The major reason for inundation of agricultural lands and abadis on the northern side of Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway (M-1) was the inadequate capacity of crossing bridges meant for the drainage of floodwater in rivers located between Peshawar and Mardan. The motorway virtually acted like a ‘bund’, obstructing the natural course of water flows into the area. The bed of River Kabul, upstream and downstream of the main Kabul River bridge, had silted up to an alarming level, which has decreased the waterway, the report said.

It is imperative for the NHA and Federal Flood Commission (FFC) to carry out a joint survey and study the roads network in the country to identify areas of possible flooding as a result of obstruction caused by these roads and take remedial measures to ease the pressure of flood at various potential locations, the report said.


Courtesy: The DAWN

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