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August 10, 2020

Rain havoc

Editorial

 
August 10, 2020

Torrential rain, notably in Balochistan and Sindh, has virtually brought life to a halt in parts of Sindh and almost the whole of Balochistan. Both provinces are ill-equipped to deal with rain, with extremely poor drainage both in cities and in rural areas. In Balochistan, where rain swept across virtually the entire province, parts of the Makran Coastal Highway were so badly damaged or that land link with the province was suspended with other parts of the country. The rain torrents created in hilly areas damaged houses and in some cases swept away livestock. The Pakistan Army has begun an operation to rescue people and offer relief. But what is needed most badly of all is a system to take away rain water and prevent it from either collecting in specific areas or creating torrents on paths which include houses, agricultural land or other properties.

The situation in Sindh is not much better. Districts including Dadu have been pelted by the unending rain which fell throughout Saturday damaging houses and creating pools of water in low-lying areas. For Karachi, which already knows the disaster rain can bring, the situation has been even graver. The city has experienced several days of rains and then the even heavier downfall on Saturday caused long power cuts, electrocutions and at least nine deaths most of them as a result of electrocution. There were also reports of roof collapses and damage to houses which had been poorly constructed and lay mainly in low income areas. This is all a consistent feature of the rain and other natural disasters in the country. Almost inevitably, they hurt low-income groups and the poor, compared to the wealthy who may face some discomfort but can generally be assured of safety in their homes. For the poor who live in shanty towns the tin, clay houses and other weak structures they use cannot protect them from the onslaught of the weather. The poorly laid out wiring system in these areas by K-Electric adds to the misery with power shutdowns lasting over a day now being reported from some parts of Karachi.

Meanwhile, in Balochistan people have been confronted with rivers that have suddenly appeared in their villages and around their houses. They have few means to tackle such a calamity or save themselves and their belongings. While rain in the country had been forecast for some time, not much planning seems to have been done to offer any relief to people most likely to be hit by it. The result is massive damage to the welfare of people and also the expensive infrastructure. It will take time and effort – and most of all, will – to rebuild the roads that have been torn apart in Balochistan. The disaster will also add to the perception of people that they are poorly looked after and for this reason alone as well as others future calamities of a similar kind must be mitigated through prompt action.