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August 10, 2019

High alert declared as heavy rains likely to lash Karachi


August 10, 2019

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said on Friday “heavy to very heavy” rains were expected in Karachi from Saturday noon to Monday morning under the influence of a well-marked low pressure area that is entering into Southeast Pakistan from adjoining Indian states of Rajasthan, warning that two days of rain could create urban flooding like situation in Karachi and some other cities of lower Sindh.

“A well-marked low pressure area (LPA) that originated from the North Bay of Bengal now lies over SE Rajasthan and neighbourhood and under its influence heavy to very heavy downpour is expected in lower Sindh, including Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Karachi, from Friday night,” said Sardar Sarfraz, chief meteorological officer of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. while talking to The News on Friday night.

A rain-emergency has already been declared in Sindh by the provincial government by cancelling leaves of all government employees while the government has named several of its ministers and advisers as focal persons for different districts of Karachi and lower Sindh, including Saeed Ghani, Murtaza Baloch, Murtaza Wahab, and Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, to take care of people facing hardships due to the inclement weather.

Sindh Director General Health Dr Masood Solangi said leaves of all employees of the health department, including doctors, paramedics and nurses, had also been cancelled, health facilities had been put on high alert and the department would remain fully functional and operational in view of heavy rains that were expected to cause serious inconvenience to people in lower Sindh.

The PMD official said Karachi could start receiving heavy to very heavy showers from Saturday noon or afternoon that would continue till Monday morning, adding that around 100-150 millimetres of rain was expected in the city during the two days that could cause an urban flooding-like situation in some parts of the city.

Karachiites had faced immense hardships due to the accumulation of rainwater on roads, and an urban flooding-like situation in some parts of Karachi due to moderate to heavy rains on July 29 and 30, 2019, and experts said the situation could get worse if more moderate rains lashed at the city in the days to come.

As many as 28 people, including several children, had died in rain-related incidents, including electrocution, in the city, while miseries of people continued for several days as the city reeled to become normal.

International weather experts, including eminent international weather pundit Jason Nicholls, tweeted that a depression formed in the North Bay of Bengal had weakened into a well-marked low pressure area, heading towards Southeast Pakistan and would cause some good rains on Saturday and Sunday.

“A depression weakening to a well marked low will produce rain, some heavy, from eastern #MadhyaPradesh & NW #Maharashtra, including #Mumbai, to southern #Rajasthan & #Gujarat into Saturday, then across southeast #Pakistan, including #Karachi, on Saturday and Sunday,” Lead International Forecaster for Accuweather said in a tweet on Friday.

KWSB preparations

The Karachi Water and Sewage Board’s (KWSB) central complaint centre will remain functional 24 hours due to the impending rainfall. According to a press statement issued by the board, Managing Director KWSB Asadullah Khan had directed all KWSB staff to remain vigilant even during eid holidays. Sewage lines and manholes of the city had been cleaned prior to the rainfall, and the sewage lines, which collapsed in the last spell of rain, had been replaced.

The sidewalls of the rivers and drains of the city had been cemented, and it was also made sure that all water distribution and sewage pumping 3 stations of the board had generators installed with sufficient quantity of fuel in it. In case of power breakdown, the water and sanitation functions of the board should not be disturbed, the spokesman said.

In order to safeguard Gharo, Dhabeji and Pipri pumping stations, wild bushes and the rain drains in the surrounding areas had been cleaned while the low-lying areas had been safeguarded by making strong bund surrounding them. The board had also started repair work of the sunken sewage lines at Tipu Sultan Road, Gulberg Town and Hazara Site.

The work to replace 50-year-old sewage line at Share Faisal’s Hotel Metropole was almost completed. However, there were complaints of overflowing gutter in Gulshan and District Malir. According to the Karachi traffic police, due to the presence of sewage water on Rashid Minhas Road, the movement of traffic from Gulshan towards Nipa was slow.

IGP orders contingent plan

Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Syed Kaleem Imam issued directives to the police regarding the expected heavy rain in the province. An order was issued from the IGP’s office in which the police were directed to ensure proper implementation of rain contingency plans devised by the ranges and units concerned.

The order read that as a spell of heavy rain had been predicted, the traffic police should ensure that alternative routes were open for the traffic in case some roads were badly inundated. The police were also directed to coordinate with other departments to ensure drainage of rainwater.

The IGP asked the traffic police to ensure that broken-down vehicles were immediately removed from the roads during the rain so that they did not affect the flow of traffic.

The order read that all the district and traffic SSPs, SHOs and SOs should ensure their presence on the roads during the rain and traffic police should be deployed at traffic signals, roundabouts and U-turns. The range police were directed to assist the traffic police wherever their help was required.

The IGP directed that all wireless control rooms of the Sindh police should report the situation during the rain to the departments concerned so that they could take prompt action. Dr Imam ordered that the equipment kept in stores for rainy weather, such as raincoats and boots, be issued especially to officials on duties outside. He also directed the police to ensure that they had tents and boats that could be used at any place where needed.

The police chief also instructed the police to have sufficient amount of life-saving equipment and medicines in every police mobile van along with drinking water and dry food. Directives were also issued for topping up police generators and vehicles with fuel and maintaining constant communication not only among various tiers of the police but also with the district administration, all emergency services and relevant government departments and utilities, including K-Electric, the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company, Sui Southern Gas Company and others, to deal with any eventuality.

The IGP order read that the traffic helpline 1915 would provide information to the public about safety precautions and necessary actions during the rain including how to remain safe from electrocution incidents.

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