Pakistan’s Meteorological Department issued warnings of high-intensity rainfall and destructive thunderstorms to Sindh and Balochistan. It is expected that the remnants of cyclone Gulab will wreak havoc and cause urban flooding and damage to vulnerable infrastructure in both the provinces from September 28 to October 2. The only matter of concern right now is, will each government be able to make sufficient arrangements to counteract the potential harm that may be done to the land?
More often than not, climate change is cited as the primary cause behind why urban flooding is a frequent phenomenon in our cities. While there is some truth to this fact, the majority of the fault lies with the dilapidated sewerage and drainage structures particularly in Sindh and Balochistan. Roads often transform into rivers, cars can be seen floating away, people lose their lives by drowning or getting electrocuted through the fallen lines in the water, the transmission of diseases amplifies due to still-standing water and infrastructure is especially damaged beyond repair. All this is a regular occurrence in a city like Karachi whenever it gets a slight taste of rain even. In the rough terrains of Balochistan, landslides which cut areas off from civilisation and can crush individuals under it are triggered almost immediately after heavy downpour.
These are problems that are easily avoidable so long as the government shows initiative and commits to it for the long-term. Many development plans have been introduced—like the Karachi Urban Development Programme—but none have proved to be successful in alleviating the pressure off of the already stressed drainage system. Furthermore, with the Meteorological Department issuing warnings the night before an expected storm, there is little time for any preventative action to be taken. It seems unlikely that the government will be able to install the necessary equipment needed to prevent flooding, or at the very least minimise it.
This is an issue that we deal with on a yearly basis but still, a permanent solution has not been employed. Every season that we brush the matter under the rug, we risk countless lives and livelihoods of citizens.