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August 8, 2018

Situation remains unchanged for Pindiites in Monsoon


August 8, 2018

When I was a pre-teen growing up in what was then called an old Rawalpindi, I recollect a conversation I had with my father. We were trapped at a street in one of the marketplace neighborhoods of the city because the rains had inundated that portion of the market. “It occurs every year,” I can recall telling him. “Why can’t they do something?” In total disgust, my father — a man with little time for ineptness and sleaze — responded, “Mark my words, it will be the same story when you get to my age.”

At that time, he was in his 70s. Nearly four decades later, the conversation came tumbling out of the niches of my head as I mulled over a newspaper snapshot showing the same street under water.

The downpour in the city was definitely severe late Monday night, but it has rained like that in the past. Time and again, the city has demonstrated its inability to deal with it. The tale was no different this year. In a most wild manner, the monsoon showed up bang on time for its business with the city.

The skies opened up and showered fluid generosity on the city. By the time the rain subsided, Pindi especially Fazal Town Phase-I, where we are living at the moment, was terribly floating in a sea of sewer water because drainage is virtually non-existent. That’s not all. The power grid that supplies the city is a jumble of outdated apparatus and deplorable upkeep.

Not amazingly, supply was disrupted. Most of the population was without electricity. And as if to make sure that the confusion was complete, the phone lines collapsed. Some other localities were also inundated in an overflow caused by relentless, heavy rains. “There was water everywhere except in the rivers,” a long-suffering resident grumbled, with a stroke of light-heartedness. The taps have run dry. “The other place where there was no water, but should have been, was in people’s taps,” the resident added in disgust.

The councilors, whose constituency incorporates much of the affected areas in the city, visited the areas and declared the situation to have returned to normal. Their remarks were widely perceived as being callous and insensible among residents whose homes were under water even as they spoke. In scores of other areas, the monsoon left students and employees marooned in a tsunami of mayhem, without drainage, without power and without phones. The civic agencies were clueless, even heartless, and citizens were left to fend for themselves. Why must the city suffer from this disgraceful absence of governance? Things don’t seem to change much for the ill- fated residents of this city.

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