ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has issued high alert in the wake of expected widespread heavy rain and flood, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, over the next five days.
Speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday, PMD Director General Dr Ghulam Rasul said a “very active monsoon system” would start affecting major parts of Sindh, including Karachi, and adjoining areas of Balochistan on Thursday, and its intensity would gradually increase.
Accompanied by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) coordinator Ahmad Kamal, the top weather pundit said the authorities should evacuate people from water ways, riverbeds and katcha areas to save lives and properties.
He said the provincial governments, district administrations and provincial disaster management authorities (PDMAs) had been updated on the developing monsoon pattern with a request to put in place emergency precautionary measures to minimise the losses.
Overall, the entire country was currently under an active monsoon system which might generate heavy widespread rains over the next four to five days, Dr Rasul said, adding that he had spoken to the Sindh chief secretary about the weather pattern while the NDMA had alerted the PDMAs.
In reply to a question, he said the 2010 flood was of “very heavy magnitude” which had originated from the northern region and taken time to reach Sindh. But this time, he added, the heavy monsoon was concentrating in Sindh where up to 500,000 cusecs of water was already flowing down the Indus at Guddu and Sukkur and the upcoming heavy downpour could aggravate the situation. He said the barrages in Sindh had the capacity to accommodate up to 1.2 million cusecs.
Answering a question, Dr Rasul said India was also in the grip of heavy monsoon with widespread rains, particularly in areas adjoining Punjab and Azad Kashmir. “Dams have been built there and, therefore, we will have to keep an eye on India because if it starts discharging the overflowing dams it could add to our problems,” he said.
He rejected a perception that PMD’s radars were dysfunctional and said that none of its seven radars across the country was out of order, though these were very old. At the same time, he added, the government was upgrading the weather forecasting mechanism and building capacity.
The PMD chief said the climate change was having adverse impact on Pakistan’s glaciers and causing extreme weather conditions like intensified monsoons, abrupt rainfalls and cloudburst events. He said it was not possible to avoid disasters or control rainfalls but losses could be reduced with human intervention through long-term planning for construction of dams and minimizing risks.
The NDMA coordinator said the provinces had been advised to ensure 100 per cent preparedness, adding that the disaster management and relief was now a devolved subject, but stock taking of emergency items was coordinated by the provincial governments with district administrations.
The federal government’s coordination and necessary support were needed when there were shortcomings at the grassroots level.