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Friday January 27, 2023

Manchhar Lake breach hits 40,000 villages

The breach will reduce the pressure of water entering the lake by 30pc, says officials

By News Desk & Our Correspondent
September 05, 2022
View of embankments being made at Manchar lake. — Screengrab/File
View of embankments being made at Manchar lake. — Screengrab/File

KARACHI: Authorities Sunday breached the Manchhar Lake’s dyke to save the country’s largest lake and reduce the pressure of water entering the reservoir amid catastrophic floods across the country. People of over 40,000 villages were affected by the breach.

Sehwan’s Deputy Commissioner Captain (retd) Fariduddin Mustafa said that a cut had been made in the dyke of Manchhar Lake at RD-14 near Baug-e-Yusuf. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of the largest lakes in Asia.

“After the breach, the water will enter the Indus River by passing through Kiranpur village and Indus Link,” according to the Sindh Irrigation Department. The breach will reduce the pressure of water entering the lake by 30pc, said officials. “The next 24 to 48 hours are crucial for the lake,” the deputy commissioner said, adding that there was pressure on the lake’s dykes from RD-54 to RD-58.

On the other hand, pressure increased on embankments to protect Johi and Mehar cities from flooding. Residents are dumping stones and other flood-fighting materials to reinforce the dykes. Matiari city and the National Highway are feared to be submerged as the gate of the Chandan branch at Rohri Canal could not be repaired despite the passage of several hours. The authorities, however, are transporting people from five union councils in Sehwan to safe places.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the controlled cut was made to divert waters from Sehwan and to ease pressure on the lake. “Even my house in Bajara has been inundated after floods entered my village where my father was born and now my second village will be inundated by water in the wake of the controlled cut,” he added.

He said that Sehwan city was being protected and work would be done at Indus Link to save Bhan Saeedabad. He would review the planning for shifting and accommodating affected people in camps, adding that he was in Sehwan to finalise the planning.

Addressing a press conference at the Rawal House, Tando Jam, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said the Manchhar Lake had been breached to save Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad. He said that five union councils including Jafarabad, Wahur, Channa, Aarazi and Bubak would be affected by the cut in the lake and arrangements had been made to shift people from there. He said that 563 people had died and more than 22,000 injured so far while over 672,000 people were staying in relief camps. He said that more than 100,000 cattle had also been killed in the province.

He added utility stores had been given an order for 115,000 ration bags but only 8,000 bags were received, adding that it had been decided to give orders to private vendors. Meanwhile, the kachta area of Kot Durrani Mehar was completely submerged by water as the flood situation has become serious in Shahdadkot district. A 70-feet crack occurred in the Khosa Simm Canal in Meeru Khan, tehsil of Shahdadkot, after the water level rose in the Indus River. After the Khosa Simm Canal burst, water quickly entered the adjacent villages.

Sindh Minister of Universities and Boards Mohammad Ismail Rahu has said that 221,004 people and 41,360 families had been affected due to torrential rains and floods in Badin. He said 33,500 people and 6,650 families were affected in taluka Badin, 91,095 people and 18,400 families in taluka SF Rahu, 37,300 people and 6,860 families in taluka Matli, 27,000 people and 4,500 families in taluka Talhar and 32,109 people and 4,950 families in taluka Tando Bago.

The flood water level rose to 7 feet at Ring Bund in Mehar city of district Dadu. It is surrounded by water from all sides as hundreds of villages and settlements have come under water. Due to water entering Kolachi city, people were forced to migrate to safer cities. Qazi Arif, Gaji Khuwahar and Dhamrah canals have overflowed with water from the Indus Highway, which feared the closure of the Mehar-Larkana road.

The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has said that River Indus continues to flow in high flood in the Sukkur-Kotri Reach and in medium flood at Guddu while complete normalcy has returned to the River Kabul. According to a daily report, the River Indus is discharging normal flows at the rest of its structures (Tarbela, Kalabagh, Chashma and Taunsa). Other main rivers of the system i.e Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej continue to flow with normal discharges. Tarbela Reservoir Management authorities are maintaining it at its maximum conservation level (MCL) of 1,550.00 feet since August 28, whereas the Mangla Dam is at an El:1,188.55 feet against its MCL:1,242 feet (50.41 percent storage still left).

The National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC) said that overall 3,146 people had been evacuated to safer localities, including 479 people during the last 24 hours. For restoring the communication infrastructure and raging lakes, Peshawar Corps Engineers opened the Bahrain Bridge, which helped authorities to connect people in the Swat Valley.

Moreover, the Frontier Works Organization (FWO), along with the National Highway Authority (NHA), assisted by Rawalpindi Corps troops, opened the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to light traffic. Army Aviation helicopters operated 307 flights and evacuated stranded people from different flooded areas. During the last 24 hours, army helicopters operated 31 flights and evacuated 479 people to safer localities, the NFRCC said. Moreover, 44 tons of rations and medicines were transported by the army helicopters during the last 24 hours.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, Sunday saw 24 deaths due to floods. In a provincial breakdown, 19 were killed in Sindh, three in KP, one each in Balochistan and Punjab. This takes the death toll to 1,314 across the country since mid-June when the deadly floods and rains began to wreck the country. In Balochistan, M-8 was blocked due to land-sliding in the Wangu hills. In KP, N-95 was blocked. At the N-50, the road was opened to traffic except the breached section of the Sagu bridge. In Sindh, N-55, Meher Johi Canal to Khairpur Nathan Shah was submerged and the road was closed.

Hira Ikram, a physician at a camp established by Britain’s Islamic Mission in Sukkur charity, said many people had scabies, gastrointestinal infections and fevers. “With over 400 (children) dead, they make up one third of overall death toll. Now they are at even greater risk of waterborne diseases, UNICEF and other global agencies should help,” he tweeted. UNICEF, in fact, delivered tons of medicine, medical supplies, water purifying tablets and nutritional supplements to Pakistan.

Stressing the need for medical supplies amid the devastating floods, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has said that almost 47,000 displaced pregnant women have been housed at relief camps in different areas of the province. “More than 134,000 cases of diarrhoea and 44,000 cases of malaria have been reported in the province,” Pechuho said.

Many flood victims, including women and children, are complaining of psychological distress after losing their homes, loved ones and livelihoods, officials added. Public and private health officials said diarrhoea, cholera and other waterborne diseases had started killing both adults and children in the flooded areas in different districts of Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab, while people had also started losing lives due to malaria, but no accurate figures were being provided by health officials.

“Over 17,242 people, including men, women and children, were treated for skin infections at 442 fixed and mobile camps in Sindh. Diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid and dysentery are the second most common diseases among flood affected followed by respiratory infections. Around 14,869 cases of waterborne diseases and 13,326 cases of respiratory illnesses were treated on Friday at 442 medical camps, established by the Sindh Health Department,” an official of the Directorate General of Health Sindh told The News.

Earlier, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed the need for providing healthcare facilities to almost 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the rail link in Balochistan could not be restored. The floods had severed the train link between Balochistan and the rest of the country, causing inconvenience to passengers, who were left stranded at Sibi and Jacobabad railway stations, railway officials and travellers said. 

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