Steps to cope with rains, flood emergency discussed
KARACHI, June 19: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has directed all the departments concerned to strictly implement the ‘pre-monsoon contingency plan-2012’ so that possible losses during the predicted heavy rains and resultant floods could be kept at a minimum level.
Presiding over a meeting held at the CM’s House on Tuesday to review pre-monsoon arrangements, he directed all the deputy commissioners not to leave their respective district headquarters without prior permission from the chief secretary or the divisional commissioner concerned and effectively monitor the precautionary measures supposed to be taken by all the relevant departments.
Mr Shah directed the authorities concerned to strengthen and fully equip the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) and ensure availability of emergency material with the DDMAs at its headquarters enabling them to promptly respond in the event of an eventuality.
He also issued directives for acquiring tents, mosquito nets, blankets, life-saving jackets, boats, dewatering pumps, fire engines and ambulances. Coordinated efforts should be made by all departments to avoid duplication, he added.
The chief minister, however, observed that although heavy rainfall had been forecast, there was no need to spread panic among people, claiming that the provincial government had made effective plans to cope with any emergency.
“All stakeholder departments are well-prepared while the experience of relief and rescue activities over the past two years will also help them deal with such a situation efficiently,” he observed.
The chief minister asked the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and divisional commissioners to constitute relief committees at district and taluka levels with the task of risk management, rescue and relief operations, vigilance, transport and machinery arrangement, health and sanitation management etc.He directed all DCs to identify safe places for establishing tent villages and relief camps so that people could be shifted there immediately in the event of flooding in the low-lying areas.
Mr Shah also called for early completion of the remaining work on the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD). The irrigation secretary informed him that all the breaches caused by floods in the past had since been plugged while all bunds had been strengthened.
He said that construction of new drains in Jhuddo, Badin and Tando Allahyar was under way and 80 per cent of the work had been completed so far.
He further stated that lawmakers, local communities and growers’ representatives had been monitoring the ongoing work at different places, adding that the work would be completed before the June 30 deadline at any cost.
The chief minister referred to President Asif Ali Zardari’s earlier directive for the removal of encroachments from river embankments, and asked all commissioners, deputy commissioners, police and other relevant departments to cooperate with the irrigation department in this regard and take strict legal action against encroachers.
The Mirpurkhas commissioner told the meeting that the early forecast of heavy rains and possible floods by the NDMA and the Met department had sown fear among growers, who appeared reluctant to cultivate their crops.
Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo said that his department had faced many such challenges over the past couple of years and a strategy with improved measures was being evolved to cope with the rains and floods this year.
Foreign, private assistance
CM’s Adviser on Relief Haleem Adil Shaikh stressed the need for seeking the cooperation of the international community, NGOs and donor agencies, arguing that even developed countries could not cope with natural disasters alone. He said that the international community and foreign donors were ready to extend all possible assistance in such a situation as they did during the last year’s floods. “We only need to facilitate their assistance and properly guide them to the affected areas,” he said.
He told the meeting that the recent Durban conference on climate change was informed that in terms of environmental risk, Pakistan had jumped to number 16 from 29 in the list of ‘most sensitive countries’.
He also called for mobilising civil society and launching an awareness campaign to educate people of vulnerable areas about how to help themselves in the event of a disaster.
The meeting was briefed on the pre-monsoon contingency plan, stakeholders’ role and the coordination mechanism.
PDMA chairman highlighted the responsibilities of the revenue, education, police, agriculture, civil defence, livestock, fisheries, Met and other departments as well as the armed forces before, during and after a disaster.
Irrigation Secretary Babar Effendi said that the total length of flood protection infrastructure was 1,325 miles, which include frontline bunds (875 miles), loop bunds (331 miles) and flood protection bunds (119 miles). All vulnerable points had been strengthened, he added.
About long-term combating efforts, Mr Effendi mentioned that after 2010 floods, 76 schemes for upgrading of system were identified for which a loan was negotiated with the Asian Development Bank.
He said that other Abklani arrangements as per consumption would be streamlined while stone stocks at vulnerable points had already been arranged and machinery like excavators, tractor trolleys etc would be deployed at every 10 miles along bund lines.
He said that a master plan for the left bank of the Indus had been prepared by M/s Louis Berger for upgrading of the drainage system. He informed the meeting that in all, 242 electricity and diesel dewatering pumps were available at the Benazirabad, Nasir, Hala, Jamhsoro, Mithrao and Tharparkar divisions.
Among the others who attended the meeting were Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Rehabilitation Minister Muzaffar Shujra, Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and commissioners of Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Larkana and Sukkur divisions.—APP