Flood and Sits-in Damaged Pakistani Economy

By Zaheerul Hassanhydro_projects_chenab_river

Nine lac cusec high flood water tide of River Chenab leaving behind miseries, destructions, deaths and after rocking the provinces of Punjab and Sindh has now entered into the Arabian Sea.

On 3 October 2014, while addressing the International Donors Conference in Islamabad, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has shown concern over the continuous depleting economy due to flood 2014, internally displaced persons (IDP)   and ongoing operation, Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. Dar asked the donor countries assist us in rehabilitation of internally displaced persons of North Waziristan was obligation of the international community.  He also appealed international community to aid the flood-affected victims in Pakistan.
According to the official reports, flood has affected 5, 00,000 people and 3,450 villages across the province of Punjab. The government sources also disclosed that 35,000 families were provided Rs.25, 000 per family, compensation amounts. The heirs of those who were killed during the floods were given 1.6 million, each by the Punjab Government.
Chairman National Disaster Management Authority, Saeed Aleem told the participants of the conference that floods affected 23 districts of Punjab, 10 of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five of Gilgit Baltistan.

However, according to independent surveys, due to the floods, over five lac people have been affected and more than 112 villages smashed to the ground till now. The standing crops over 1.681millions of land completely destroyed. The large scale-devastation caused to the live stocks, major crops of   cotton and rice. In coming days, the flood damages would definitely prove a great set back to country’s economy since shortage of daily commodities would definitely   increase in prices leading to unrest in flooded areas.
The complete rehabilitation of flood affected people would likely to intensify the government problems in the presence of crumbling economy, poor security and political environment. Unfortunately, most of the politicians both from government and oppositions probably believe in photo sessions and are busy in political point scoring.  The sit-in of Islamabad also caused heavy damage to already depleted economy of Pakistan. In this regards, China has postponed her president’s visit to Pakistan. It is worth mentioning here that Chinese president was supposed to announce the investment of 35 billion dollars package during his visit to Pakistan. Thus, due to political instability in the country foreign investment has been stopped.

However, Pakistan Armed Forces as usual came out to rescue and rehabilitate the calamity-hit people. Since 5th September,   15 helicopters have flown for 306 hours and 300 boats have operated round the clock to rescue more than 47000 people.  115 tons of rations have been dropped for flood marooned people in these areas.  Pakistan Medical Corps has also established 20 medical camps and provides medical care to flood victims.  During this relief operation, while rescuing the civilians, one Junior Commissioned Officer Naib Subedar Anab Shaheed, and a soldier embraced “Shahdat”(martyred).

It is also mentionable here that Flood 2010 so far was one of the major natural disasters in the history of Pakistan. Consequently, enormous loss of life, massive destruction to property, ruining towns and villages, smashing industrial machinery and shattering power plants made the country’s functions freeze.  According to UN Report, in that flood, the distribution of affected population is as follows: Punjab (8 million), Khyber Pakhthunkhwa (4.7 million), Sindh (1 million), Balochistan (273,000), other (32,000).  But this time major sufferers among the people were from Punjab.  Post flood report of year 2010 recommended certain solutions to control the damages of such type of natural calamities but none of the concerned department paid any heed to the suggestions presented in the report.
The report mentioned the constructions of major dams and repairs of Dams’ dykes.   Prior to rainy season, the governments have not taken serious steps to improve the conditions of the barrages.  Moreover, all political leaders from government and opposition failed to develop consensus over construction of Kala Bagh Dam. Here, I would like to mention that even PTI, the popular political party of KPK has not made any attempt to convince the people regarding the construction of Kala Bagh Dam. Probably, chief of PTI Imran Khan is only interested in refusal of paying electric bill and criticizing the government over energy crisis. But due to his KPK vote banks Imran Khan is least interested in resolving energy crises by supporting Kala Bagh Dam.

Indian water flow has also proved another serious setback for people living along Chenab basin. As per NDMA Chairman, the people residing there have not followed flood alerts sounded from time-to-time by respective local administrations.  He also stated that in previous flood, the wave was of 3,00,000 cusec water in the river Chenab but  now in 2014  it was of over 9,00,000 cusec, so “the situation is extraordinary”.
As per the provisions of the treaty, flow of rivers, the Ravi, the Sutlej, the Beas, the Jammu Towi, the Chenab and the Jhelum are being transmitted to Pakistan through telegram since 1962. Broadcasting of floods, flows of rivers, the Ravi, the Jammu Towi and the Chenab is also being done since 1974.  Subsequently on the request of Pakistan, an agreement has been signed between the commissioners for Indus Water of India and Pakistan in 1989 to communicate the flood flows of  the Ravi and the Sutlej rivers to Pakistan on telephone from 1st July to 10th October every year.

In this context, a control room is operated round the clock in the Indus Wing for the above purpose.  Although India has given warning before releasing the water,  but   tide of the water was much higher than as informed. It is also pertinent to know that  India is allowed to build dams on run of the river water on three western rivers given to Pakistan under the Indus Basin Water Treaty, and so is Pakistan. But as per sub-paragraph 8(h) of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 (IWT-1960); India is entitled to construct an ‘incidental storage work’ on Western rivers on its side on two conditions; firstly, only after the design has been scrutinized and approved by Pakistan and secondly, storage capacity should not exceed 10,000 acres feet of water.  Therefore, storing more than 30,000 acre water for 27 days and then releasing 9000 cusec water tide in one go is a deliberate try to ruin Pakistan.
In fact, Indian authority has constructed 17 hydro projects and water storages dams over Chenab River. She has attained the capability of stopping the flow of water in Chenab River for 27 days. It means by constructing barrages and storing water, India h violated the Indus Water Treaty.

Now, just after the water attack, India has also started firing on working boundaries of Sialkot and Kashmir. Indian Border Security Forces in unprovoked firing,  killed seven people (including two kids) in Jandrot and Sialkot boundaries since first October. In this regards, Pakistan has made strong protest and USA also showed concern over Kashmir issue and emphasis on the resolution of burning issue between Indo-Pakistan. Therefore, Moddi government’s non serious attitude might push two regional nuclear countries into war.
Concluding, I would say that government on internal and external fronts should take some serious active steps to tackle the threat to the country’s economy.  In this context, UN should be approached to arrange donation in settling down IDPs and flood affected  people. The leaders of sits-in should join parliaments and carry out negotiations with the government to resolve on-going political crisis. Moreover, Pakistan should ask international community to force India for resolving Kashmir and water issues under UN resolutions.

The writer can be approached though zameer36@gmail.com.


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