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July 13, 2021

Unexpected monsoon shower causes agony to citizens with power cuts, inundated roads

July 13, 2021

An unexpected spell of monsoon rain on early Monday morning in Karachi surprised both the citizens as well as weather pundits as most of the city areas received light to moderate showers, resulting in inundation of low-lying areas, accumulation of water on major roads and power cuts in many areas of the city.

The rain started around 7am in most of the areas on Monday morning. Around three to four millimetres (mm) of rain was recorded in the first spell except for Gulshan-e-Hadeed where 17 mm was recorded. The intermittent rain continued till noon, during which different areas received 20 to 35mm of rainfall, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) officials said.

“An offshore trough in the Arabian Sea got activated on early Monday morning and under its influence, moist currents penetrated in the city which caused light to moderate showers in Karachi and its suburbs. We are expecting this phenomenon to continue till July 16, and in that period several spells of light to moderate showers are expected,” Met Office Karachi Director Sardar Sarfraz told The News.

He said they had forecast the first spell of monsoon rain in Karachi on July 15-16 but an unexpected developments in the Arabian sea resulted in the Monday showers. He added that a low pressure area formed in the Bay of Bengal was causing rains in India and it would result in more rains and showers in Karachi and other parts of Sindh in the days to come.

According to the latest reports, a low pressure area has formed over the eastern region of the Arabian Sea causing monsoon currents to penetrate in Sindh. Under its influence, rain, thunderstorms and windstorms with a few moderate to heavy rains at times are likely to occur in all the districts of lower Sindh till July 16 and central and northern Sindh till July 17, 2021.

The PMD said Gulshan-e-Hadeed received the highest rain where 35mm of rainfall was recorded, followed by the PAF Faisal Base with 32mm of rainfall. Saadi Town received 28mm, North Karachi 24.4mm, Landhi 18.5mm, Surjani 20mm, University Road 16.1mm, Nazimabad 12.2 mm, Masroor Base 11.5mm and Jinnah Terminal received 14.2mm of rainfall.

Electrocution incidents

A minor boy and two sacrificial animals died after suffering electric shocks in the city during the first rain spell of the year.

Twelve-year-old Hammad, son of Khursheed, died after he received electric shocks from a pole in the Al-Falah Society area near Malir Halt. The casualty was taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for medico-legal formalities.

Separately, two sacrificial animals died in electrocution incidents in Malir’s Millat Town and Federal B Area Block 7.

Civic problems

The rain caused complete collapse of the alternative route of the Malir Causeway to Kathore.

As usual, rainwater gathered at some of the busiest intersections of the city — Nagan Chowrangi and Qayumabad — and could not be drained for hours. Parts of Sharea Faisal and the road in front of the Jinnah Hospital remained inundated after the rain. Water also could not be drained off from some streets of Nazimabad, North Nazimabad and North Karachi. Areas surrounding the airport and City Tower on Sharea Faisal were also flooded, which caused hindrance to traffic movement.

Many areas of the city such as Gadap, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, FB Area, Clifton, some localities of Defence Housing Authority, Orangi Town, Saddar, Bahadurabad, Surjani Town, Malir and Korangi witnessed hours-long power cuts.

A spokesperson for the K-Electric (KE) said power supply to Surjani Town and New Karachi was suspended as they were low-lying areas.

The rain also caused sewage to overflow from various manholes. Due to the accumulation of wastewater at Jauhar Mor towards Nipa, the traffic movement remained at halt for hours, according to the Karachi Traffic Update.

Water accumulated at Hassan Square, University Road towards New Town, Tipu Sultan Road, Karsaz and other areas also slowed down the traffic movement.

A resident of North Nazimabad, Muhib Alvi complained of having no power since the first drop of rain fell in the city. He lamented that for 12 consecutive hours, he didn’t have power at his home. Same was the situation in Nazimabad where intermittent power failure was observed.

A Gulistan-e-Jauhar resident, Saira, shared how there was a power breakdown immediately after the rain. “The electricity supply resumed by 4pm and then there was another power outage at 6pm which continued until 9pm.”

A protest was held against the KE at Jauhar Chowrangi towards Perfume Chowk, which snarled up the traffic for hours.

Authorities’ response

Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah criticised the Pakistan Meteorological Department for its failure to predict Monday’s rainfall. “Today there wasn’t any prediction of rainfall by the Met Office,” he said and directed all the civic bodies, including the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the seven District Municipal Corporations (DMCs) to remain vigilant during the rainfall.

He ordered that the choking points of all the rainwater drains should be cleared and the authorities should keep watch on katchi abadis and hazardous buildings.

Sindh Law and Environment Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is tipped as the new administrator of Karachi, said Karachi was his own city as he would do his best to resolve the problems of the provincial capital as he visited various areas of the city after the rain.

“I was brought up in this city and I’m on the mission to resolve its problems,” he said. He remarked that the overall situation of drainage in the city was satisfactory. Personnel of traffic police and municipal agencies were present on roads to help out the citizens facing problems, he added.

Karachi Commissioner Navid Ahmed visited different areas of the city. He directed all the deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners to remain vigilant during the rainfall and remove the hazardous billboards from the streets of the city.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Laeeq Ahmed said that a contingency plan had been prepared for the monsoon. He said the KMC’s dewatering pumps remained on standby at underpasses. “Monday's spell of rain was premature, however it [motivated us to take] measures ahead of monsoon. As many as 25 water pumps have been increased and three teams of officers and employees are set up for better drainage of rainwater,” he remarked.

He said that joint efforts and strategy should be adopted as the situation would remain in control if every civic body performed its responsibilities. "Services of the Pakistan Navy, cantonment boards and disaster management authority may also be sought in case of any emergency," he added.

He explained that rainwater after 70 to 80 millimetres of rainfall could be timely drained in Karachi but in case of 150 to 200 millimetres it was difficult for them to drain out the water on time.

The DMC South carried out the dewatering work in different areas including the City Railway Colony, Civil Lines, Din Muhammad Wafai Road, ICI Bridge, Kharadar, Kutiyana Hospital, M R Kiyani Road, Muslim Gymkhana, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road, Bilawal Chowrangi, Dua Chowrangi, and Khayaban e Saadi.

South Deputy Commissioner and Administrator Irshad Ali Sodhar said that all officers and staff of the related departments were in the field.

‘Govt exposed’

Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said the first drop of monsoon rain exposed the reality behind lofty claims of the federal and Sindh governments as well as KE.

Quoting media reports saying that 70 feeders of the KE had tripped right after the rain started, he said that it had left a large number of neighbourhoods in the city without power.

He said that a large number of the residents of Karachi once again faced agony due to the incompetency and corrupt practices of the government and KE.

He added that the Sindh government had practically disowned the city.

KE’s version

KE issued a statement on Monday, in which it claimed that it worked proactively to restore power in the city following the first rain spell of the 2021 monsoon season.

Power supply to strategic installations, including the Dhabeji and Gharo pumping stations, was restored on a priority basis, while supply to other locations including hospitals and Karachi International Airport continued smoothly, read the statement.

The power utility claimed that approximately 80 per cent of KE’s distribution network remained operational during the three spells of rain on Monday and its teams continued to rectify localised faults as soon as the rain subsided.

It added that power supply to some areas was preemptively and temporarily shut down owing to the high prevalence of Kundas that could cause loss of life and property.

“As the Pak Met Department has forecast more rain in the upcoming weeks, we strongly advise citizens to remain safe and take all necessary precautions. Avoid leaving the house if there is standing water and maintain a safe distance from the electricity infrastructure at all times,” the power utility said.