Monsoon season has already started in Pakistan. And with that comes temporary respite in the lives of people from the scorching heat in July and August. However, with this season, some calamities come as well – floods – that test the capacity and preparedness of the state against natural disasters. The first of many flash floods wreaked havoc in Azad Kashmir’s Neelum Valley yesterday. Both humans and as well as immovable properties sustained losses.

While authorities have already undertaken rescue operations, the officials fear that the death toll may rise further. But what were the concerned authorities doing all these days? Were they not aware that 2019 might be the year of super floods? In any case, the failure to respond promptly is what defines our bureaucracy. They fail the people whom they are supposed to protect from any threat be that natural or human-made. Monsoon is the season when authorities need to be on their toes to halt any possible tragedy.

And the flash floods will hit the mainland as well. As early as April, the chairman Federal Flood Commission (FFC) had warned that the monsoon pattern this year could cause super flood this year during monsoon season while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources. Have the concerned authorities both at provincial and district levels devised any strategy to minimise the damages that the floods might cause? Because what happened in the Neelum Valley tells us that authorities did not do their homework despite early warnings.

Provincial authorities may have discussed the plans and measures against the flooding season; however, will these measures minimise the damages and losses is the real question. Punjab’s Chief Minister (CM) Usman Buzdar has given his approval to change the name of the Cabinet Committee on Floods to the Cabinet Committee on Disaster. Is this change of name helpful in averting the floods in any way? It is also worth asking to ask the provincial government about the rehabilitation plan that it has up its sleeve. Punjab government has met at least to discuss and overview its preparations against floods that can hit the province. What are other provincial governments up to?

And the focus of the FFC meeting that the representatives of the federal and provincial governments attended last Friday was to expedite the legislation to bar encroachments on the riverbeds and flood plains. But what was missing on the meeting’s agenda was an overview of the provincial disaster management authorities’ (PDMAs) capacity to deal with the seasonal floods. Until and unless the government ignores the capacity building of PDMAs, no meeting will help in protecting people from floods that often turn into disasters.