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Flash floods leave thousands stranded in city’s suburbs

Zeeshan Azmat & Ammar Shahbazi
Monday, August 05, 2013 
From Print Edition
Torrential rains have wreaked havoc in the low-lying suburbs of Karachi with a number of residential towns in Malir district submerged under rainwater reportedly as high as 15 feet.
Thousands of people have been stranded and many other rendered homeless by heavy downpours and flash floods over the past two days in New Rizvia Society, Amroha Town and Saadi Town, which fall under the KDA Scheme 33 off the University Road.
Residents had to wait for hours before rescue workers arrived for help as the area was inundated by the gushing currents of rainwater that swelled in the absence of a proper drainage system.
Reportedly the flash flooding was caused by a breach in Thaddo Dam in Gadap on Malir River, which originates in the Kirthar hills.
“It came like a tsunami at around 9:30 last night,” said Farhan, who lives in PIA Society near KDA Scheme 33. “I ran inside the house as the water broke the wall of our compound and kept gushing in.”
The residents of PIA society then had to break open the opposite wall to divert the deluge toward Bhittaiabad, a shanty settlement.
Experts blamed the flooding on the systematic encroachment of the storm water drains and the absence of proper maintenance that the city administration had overlooked over the years.
“You cannot expect the sewerage lines can drain away storm water,” said Intikhab Ahmed Khan, a technical officer at the Karachi Water and Sewage Board. “The drainage system of storm water is essential in low-lying areas and they are present there. But when there is no proper maintenance, like cleaning, such crises are bound to arise.”
Citizens in Safoora Goth and its adjoining areas were warned through mosque loud speakers on Saturday night to evacuate their homes when the flooding began.
The power was shut due to a technical fault as some 15,000 families remain trapped in their houses with all roads clogged. In Saadi Town, the water level is still rising reportedly.
“We do not have electricity or the fuel to turn on the generator. My mother is sick so I cannot take her out in such a situation. We just had dates and water for Iftar last night and it has been almost 36 hours [since we’ve eaten anything],” said Ahmed from Safoora Goth.
A Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) official, requesting anonymity, blamed the previous government for the debacle, claiming that in the past five years utter confusion prevailed as to who actually was responsible for the civic management of Karachi.
“There was no concrete plan and practically no planning. In the past five years, all Karachi had in the name of authority was musical chairs,” he said.
The absence of relief efforts was conspicuous in these areas. The KMC administrator was fired on the previous day and the affected people have been left to fend for themselves.
Apart from the volunteers of a political party of the neighbourhood, and later the army, the people are managing on their own.
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