ISLAMABAD   -   In view of the extreme flood forecast in the upcoming monsoon season, the Federal government has asked the provinces for the immediate removal of the encroachments in the floodplains of river water ways through enactment of River Act.

While chairing the 54th Annual Meeting of Federal Flood Commission, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda urged the provinces and Federal line agencies for prompt approval of their respective floodplain management Acts and their strict enforcement to prevent the encroachment in the waterways on permanent basis.

The annual coordination session of the Federal and provincial authorities held here reviewed preparedness for upcoming Monsoon Season.

The meeting was attended by Muhammad Ashraf, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Ahmed Kamal, Chief Engineering Adviser & Chairman Federal Flood Commission and other senior officials of the related Federal and provincial government organisations, including representative from Pak Army to discuss all issues related to 2019 flood preparedness.

All the stakeholders briefed the meeting on pre-emptive measures taken to minimise the effects of damages in the event of occurrence of floods.

During the meeting, the provinces have shown concern over the reduction of the funds for the flood protection projects, official source told The Nation.

The meeting was informed that due to encroachment in floodplain and water ways the passage for flood water has reduced and the places where earlier one million cusecs flood water could easily pass cannot accommodate now one lakh cusecs of water, said the source.

The Minister said that there is dire need to remove the encroachments in the floodplains of river water ways through enactment of River Act and its strict enforcement by the provinces to reduce the losses to the public and private properties and precious human lives from likely floods in the coming monsoon season.

Vawda noted with concern that the encroachments in the river waterways besides major Nullahs by the masses in provinces are so frequent and in such magnitude that even the low floods create havoc in the communities the recent example of this is the case of 105,000 cusecs outflow from Jhelum River at Mangla.

Official of Flood Forecasting Division, Pakistan Metrological Department  (PMD), Lahore apprised the meeting that this year’s monsoon rains will be normal with above normal rains expected in Northern Areas (GB, KP, Punjab, AJ&K) which coupled with westerly incursion and snow melt may result into an extreme flood event.

The meeting expressed dissatisfaction over the late submission of priority flood protection projects by the provincial governments and hence their late implementation.

The Secretary Ministry of Water Resources urged the provinces and Federal agencies for timely submission of PC-Is of emergent nature flood protection projects being funded through the Federal Government PSDP so that their timely approval and implementations can be ensured in the best public interest towards protection from floods.

Faisal Vawda directed all concerned to remain vigilant with reinforced and round-the-clock coordination throughout the monsoon season.

Meeting was further informed that PMD’s and WAPDA’s related equipments are fully functional.

WASA Rawalpindi and District Government, Rawalpindi were directed for the complete clearing of Lai Nullah beds/ sides at critical locations from waste material dumped by the locals and also removal of encroachment at different places in compliance with the early warning system installed.

In view of forecast of rains and expected urban flooding, the provinces were advised to be fully vigilant and clear all storm drains in cities and towns especially in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Islamabad etc.