Coordination needed with India, Afghanistan to mitigate flood threatPakistan
ISLAMABAD: All the relevant authorities looking at ways to mitigate and counter flood threats have stressed the need for improved coordination with India and Afghanistan regarding details of heavy water flow from these countries.
At the Inter-Agencies Meeting for Floods Mitigation on Wednesday, officials were informed that river coordinates were not received well in time from India, resulting in loss of life and property in Pakistan.
The meeting was chaired by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Omar Mehmood Hayat who stressed the need for enhanced coordination between relevant agencies in the country.
“At the same time there is a need to improve the ‘early warning’ arrangement on water inflow from eastern and western rivers so that timely and effective response may be initiated to avoid losses,” he said.
Meteorological Department Director Muhammad Hanif also cautioned the participants of the meeting over the looming threat of floods in urban centres in the coming month. The problem of floods in cities is closely connected to unchecked urbanisation and blockage of drains.
The meeting was informed that along with flood hazards from heavy rainfall in catchment areas and glacial melt, the release of water from across both borders — in the eastern and western rivers of Kabul, Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — left Pakistan vulnerable.
The NDMA chairman noted: “As an upper riparian neighbour, India should cooperate by timely sharing information on water outflow from its rivers and actual rainfall recorded as stipulated in the Indus Waters Treaty.”
The meeting decided that the Pakistan Commission for Indus Waters should take up the matter with their counterpart in India, to address the matter before upcoming monsoon floods.
However, the meeting was informed that there was no immediate threat of water release from India as most of its reservoirs were well below maximum capacity level.
Mr Hanif told the officials that the monsoon season was likely to stay below normal in the second half of monsoon — August and September. These months are usually considered ‘flood season’ as late July rains usually fill up the reservoirs.
The participants of the meeting also inquired about the capacity of the Met Office in determining the flood situation across the border. Met Department told them that the country’s two main radars in this regard were underperforming. The weather radar at Mangla was established around 25 years ago and is obsolete, another radar system was established at Sialkot in 2007, but it has been underperforming due to lack of proper maintenance.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2017