- Underprepared to address as always
An early monsoon season has arrived in the country, already claiming lives and causing damage to property. An estimated 22 people have died post flooding in Neelum Valley where 150 houses were obliterated and considering the magnitude of the destruction it is unlikely that any bodies will be retrieved let alone any chance that some of the affected being rescued alive. Making rescue efforts even more difficult are the various roadblocks leading to the village while communication lines are down as well. Meanwhile in Upper Dir flash floods have swept away roads and bridges restricting commute while in Swabi various standing crops have been destroyed. The situation, although less severe, is not much different in Urban areas. Lahore has witnessed heavy downpour, around 40mm, over the weekend resulting in two deaths (electrocution and roof collapse) while the MET office has predicted more rain in the coming days. Similar downpour was witnessed in other parts of Punjab as well. Every year monsoon season rains batter various parts of the country and although predictions are made by the relevant departments, not much is done to either prepare for the worst or remain ready to execute efficient and timely relief and rescue measures.
The limitations of the drainage systems in most cities are well known as year after year they fail to handle excess water on the roads resulting in huge puddles on crucial arteries causing heavy traffic congestion. Although it is a tall order to expect provincial governments to improve the infrastructure within a short span of time at least a plan to do so should be formulated and implemented before next year’s rains. In the meanwhile a more effective way of clearing the roads and directing traffic is necessary. With temperatures steadily rising every year melted ice water from the north and monsoon rains have started to coincide leading to more flash floods. It is imperative that areas most vulnerable are evacuated in a timely manner, at least in the short term. Better equipment should be made available to the MET department to predict such events more accurately. Previous governments have failed to formulate an effective strategy to cope with annual rains. One hopes with new governments in parts of the country most affected by monsoon a more comprehensive strategy is adopted this year.