Advocacy group’s warning: Sindh’s 62pc area still prone to flood
HYDERABAD, June 20: The People’s Accountability Commission on Floods, an alliance of civil society activists, academicians and writers, has warned that 62 per cent of Sindh is still vulnerable to disaster in the event of flood because the government has failed to rehabilitate the natural rainstorm drains.
The warning came during launch of a report by commission members Prof Ismail Kumbhar, Punhal Sario, Taj Mari and Faheem Raza on the “situation of river embankments and natural drains in the context of anticipated monsoon in Sindh” at the press club on Wednesday.
They said the government had failed to restore old natural drains and take adequate steps to rehabilitate the Left Bank Outfall Drain network. It was feared, therefore, heavy rains in monsoon season might again cause widespread damages, they said.
They said that 62 per cent of the province, which was dependent on natural drains, was without a functional drainage system because of heavy encroachments on drains and 38 per cent depended on LBOD and other drains to drain out rain of flood water.
Although the Sindh government had passed “Sindh Irrigation (Amendment) Act 2011” to declare encroachments on waterways a crime but it had failed to prepare a contingency plan and remove the obstructions from natural drains of Dhoro Puran, Suhni Dhoro, Digri Dohro,
Bhai Khan Dhoro, Hakro Dhoro, Phithoro Dhoro and Naro Dhoro. Dhoro is Sindhi word for natural rainwater drain.
Encroachments on these drains had caused heavy damage during last year’s rains but failed to stir the government into action. The officials concerned only paid lip service and did nothing on ground to prevent a repeat of such disaster, they said.
They said that ongoing repair work on drainage system would not be completed by June 30 and if flood struck before the deadline it would undo all the work.
No remodelling of the drainage network had been done and work had remained confined to rehabilitation of sections damaged by rains, they said.
If heavy rains struck, Umerkot, Jhuddo, Naukot, Digri, Pangrio, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar would suffer a great deal and Badin and catchment area of LBOD would be devastated.
They said that de-silting of drains had not been carried out in Tando Muhammad Khan district where the overflow from drains caused damage last year.
Dhoro Puran was a natural drain, stretching from Jhuddo to Badin, and had a capacity of carrying 20,000 cusecs of water but large-scale encroachments had shrunk its flow to 100 cusecs, they said. Its bed used to be 300 feet but now it was just 25ft.
They expressed concern over quality of repair work on banks of canals and dykes of the river. Rs17 billion had been spent on repairs in 2010 and 2011 but the dykes and banks were still in bad shape, they said.
The government had failed to redesign and widen Khairpur-Larkana bridge as recommended by Chinese experts because its narrow span blocked flow of river water, they said.