LAHORE - The participants of a seminar Tuesday stressed the need for building huge water reservoirs including Kalabagh Dam to mitigate flood disasters as without building reservoirs country cannot cope with the post-flood devastation completely.

“Due to government’s silence over Kalabagh Dam, Pakistan is suffering a loss of billions of rupees annually and early construction of the dam is inevitable for survival of Pakistan. If government fails to take any practical steps, poverty and hunger will be endless fate that may lead the country to irrecoverable disaster,” they reiterated at the seminar arranged by the Actionaid Pakistan and PDMA here at a local hotel.

The representatives from different departments, including PDMA, DDMA, Civil Defence, Metrological Department, Rescue 1122, Women Development Department, PIDA, NGOs and Media actively participated in the seminar and shared their experiences of the 2010 flash flood. The representatives also discussed with the participants of the seminar of their future plans as to how they will response to any future disaster in a better way.

The speakers observed that further delay in gathering a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of unduly politicised Kalabagh Dam will cost this country and its coming generations very dearly.

Actionaid manager Saqlain Daud, while briefing about his organisation, said that main agenda of Actionaid is poverty alleviation, which is due to injustice. He said that Actionaid has been working with active participation of several other governmental and non-governmental organisations in flood-hit area, where after-effects of flood are still can be witnessed. He appreciated the relief work of Civil Defence, Rescue 1122 and PIDA, however stressed the need for improving their services. He said that monsoon rains have not started properly but several incidences of canal breaching have been occurred and due to which some localities faced the problems.

Nisar Ahmed Sani, coordinator of PDMA, while sharing his future plans, said that his department is going to register all those NGOs working for flood relief, so that their services could properly be utilized at the time of need.

Shakeb Ahmed of Civil Defence said that if we provided some staff we can arrange trainings of the people at union council level and create awareness regarding evacuation from flooded areas. He said that the volunteers of Civil Defence reach the areas where no one can go for the relief of flood effectees.

Dr Irshad from Rescue 1122 said that his department started work in Muzaffargarh in 2009. He said the after-effects of floods are still there as often several youths are found to be drowned to death in village ponds, which were filled up due to flood 2010. The representatives from Metrological Department said that if early warning system is set up, we can avoid the devastation of floods to much extent.

PIDA chief engineer Anjum Nazir said that the existing dams are constantly silting up, leaving ever-decreasing capacity to store water.