ISLAMABAD - Chairman Federal Flood Commission Tuesday said water sector had been ignored in the past and currently there was no permanent Indus Water Commissioner, no member water WAPDA and many senior posts were lying vacant in the Ministry of Water Resources.

“There is no permanent Indus Water Commissioner, so how can we settle water issues with India,” Chairman Federal Flood Commission, Ahmed Kamal said while briefing the National Assembly standing committee on Water Resources.

The committee on water resources that met with MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur in chair was also informed that Pakistan was again under threat of flood due to heavy snowfall and fast climate changes. “If temperature reaches the level of 2015, it could be devastating and provinces must have to remain vigilant and active to cope with it,” official of the Federal Flood Commission said.  

The committee was briefed regarding the flood control plans of the federal and provincial governments. Yousuf Talpur asked the Chairman Federal Flood Commission Ahmed Kamal that what steps had so far been taken for coping and controlling possible floods.

Key posts in Ministry of Water Resources lying vacant

The chairman Federal Flood Commission said that this winter there had been heavy snowfall, so if temperature touched the level of 2015-16, there would be chances of floods and to cope with the situation the provincial departments will have to be vigilant and active. 

The committee was further informed that due to shifting in monsoon rainfall zone from north-east to north-west about 100 km, additional 25 districts of Punjab and KP came under severe threat of flood. “Due to climate changes, 14 districts of Punjab and 11 of KP which are normally safe from flood are now in danger,” commissioner said. “Pakistan’s water sector is in worst state, as it has been ignored,” the chairman maintained.

MNA Ali Nawaz Awan asked the flood commissioner that how did he pinpoint that these 25 districts were under threat? The chairman said these were specifically identified under a study.

Regarding monsoon, the committee was informed that metrological office would give its forecast in May 2019.

“In routine, the meeting of all provincial departments regarding flood is called in June. But, this year due to heavy snowfall and possible threat of floods, we have held this meeting in March,” said chairman FFC.

Due to floods, up to year 2015, Pakistan has faced losses of $38 billion and interestingly, half (or $19 billion) were from 2010 to 2015.In Pakistan, there is always threat of flood after almost every three years and the federal flood commissions always inform the provinces regarding floods in time.

The chairman said that there was no permanent Indus Water Commissioner, then how the water issues could be settled with India. Besides, there was no member water in WAPDA and also many senior posts were vacant in Water resource ministry. 

Asian Development Bank (ADB) had promised to give Pakistan $2.56 billion for coping with natural calamities, Chairman Federal Flood Commissioner said. For this purpose a special fund would be established.

“Besides that, a 10-year flood control plan of Rs332 billion is there for which we have asked the government to provide us Rs15 billion.”

The committee was briefed that radar system for weather telecasting had been upgraded in Islamabad and the same was yet to be upgraded in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Gilgit-Baltistan and KP province. The committee was further informed that due to shifting in monsoon rainfall zone from north-east to north-west about 100 km, additional 25 districts came under severe threat of flood.

The committee expressed strong displeasure over convening of IRSA meeting within three days’ short time period, having known about the meeting of the Standing Committee on same day & time (02nd April) at 11:00 a.m. and decided to bring it in the notice of the prime minister. Due to IRSA meeting, secretaries, irrigation departments of all provinces could not attend the standing committee meeting (which is eyes and ears of the Parliament) and meeting became meaningless. The committee decided that it would write to IRSA for not implementing the already decision of water distribution, it expressed anger over the IRSA for not implementing the committee directions. It also summoned IRSA and CDA officials in next meeting of the committee.

Farooq Azam Malik also said that there was very much efficient irrigation systemic in state of Bahawalpur, but the bureaucracy could not maintain it and now the farmers were facing the brunt.

The meeting was attended by Ali Nawaz Awan, Ch. Shoukat Ali Bhatti, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Ms. Kanwal Shauzab, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Riaz-ul-Haq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ehsanur Rehman Mazari and Munir Khan Orakzai.

Supra-glacial lake posing

serious risk

APP adds: Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA) Assistant Director yesterday said that Shisper Glacier has been surging at a normal rate whereas the supra-glacial lake formed aftermath was posing serious risk to local population and infrastructure.

Talking to APP, GBDMA Assistant Director said that Shisper Glacier had surged to 2300 meters since May 2018, which was surging 5m to 6m per day which means it would take 2-3 months for the glacier to reach Karakoram Highway (KKH) main bridge which was 5 kilometers far from the glacier.

“The experts claim that a thick ice wall of 1 km has been created on the glacier which has reduced the risk of outburst of the glacial lake, however, there is no threatening condition.

The glacier surge has damaged irrigated water channel near Aliabad village.  The glacier is overall 11.5 km long and has potential to cause serious losses if the situation does not abate, he added. However, it depends on the weather patterns, which would affect glacial melting process and cause flooding in the area, he said.