Peshawar /Islamabad /Lahore - At least nine people were killed in rain-related incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to heavy rainfall while an emergency was declared in the province’s Lower and Upper Chitral districts till August 15. Heavy rain with strong winds and thunderstorms lashed parts of the province on Saturday, triggering landslides and destroying infrastructure. The rain continued intermittently through the day, resulting in a “large-scale devastation” in the district. The deluge also triggered flash floods in Chitral, which washed away bridges, roads, and livestock. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, several areas of the country are likely to continue to receive rain until July 26. The latest report issued by KP’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said nine people had died over the last 24 hours, including two in Swat, two in Battagram, four in Mansehra and one in Buner. The report further said that seven people had been injured, including three in Swat, three in Battagram and one in Mansehra. The PDMA said nine houses had been fully damaged while 67 were partially damaged. Separately, a notification issued by the Relief, Rehabilitation and Settlement Department said that the deputy commissioners of both districts had requested for an “emergency” to be declared in order to enable them to “launch immediate rescue and relief activities”. Therefore, the provincial government declared a rain emergency in the two districts with immediate effect, adding that it would remain in place till August 15 “for provision of relief [and] restoration of damaged communication network and water supply”. Meanwhile, KP Interim Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan directed the relief department and the district administration to remain on “high alert”. He directed authorities to immediately launch relief and rescue activities and to ensure that aid was provided to the affectees. The chief minister also ordered for the affected people to be moved to safer locations and asserted that the provincial government would help them “in every possible way”. The Punjab government on Sunday issued a red alert after reports that Indian dams along the Ravi and Sutlej rivers were reaching their maximum capacity which may prompt India to release a significant volume of water in the two rivers. “The government has taken the decision to immediately evacuate settlements located along these Ravi and Sutlej rivers to prevent any loss of life. Commissioners have been instructed to prepare a comprehensive flood relief plan, and illegal settlements in close proximity to the rivers will be evacuated and relocated promptly in case of an emergency”, Punjab Minister for Information and Local Government Amir Mir told a news conference here.
The minister said the reports that the Indian dams along the Ravi and Sutlej rivers were reaching their maximum capacity had heightened the flood risk. “Consequently, the government has issued a red alert as the primary focus of this action is to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents in vulnerable areas”, he said. Earlier, the Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi chaired an emergency meeting of the provincial cabinet which mulled an evacuation plan in view of the emerging flood situation. Secretary Irrigation apprised during the briefing that water level was increasing in the dams being built by India at River Ravi and Sutlej.
The dam being built at Ravi was filled with 90 percent water and the dam being built at Sutlej was filled with 70 percent, he further told the cabinet ministers. The cabinet was also informed during the briefing that there was a likelihood of more rains in the catchment areas of Ravi and Sutlej and India could spill more water in the two rivers. There is a danger of flooding in both the rivers.
The chief minister ordered the Irrigation department, PDMA, Rescue 1122 and the administration to remain alert with regard to the latest flood situation and spilling of water by India. Mohsin Naqvi directed to prepare a plan to timely evacuate the population present inside the bed of River Ravi and Sutlej. While ordering all Commissioners to take precautionary measures on an emergency basis, he directed that all preemptive measures should be given a final shape for the safety of village people present inside the bed of both rivers. Mohsin Naqvi asserted that no negligence or lapse will be tolerated under any circumstance with regard to timely evacuation of population. The chief minister directed that Commissioner Lahore and other divisional Commissioners should ensure implementation of the formulated plan in case of an emergency. He directed that the administration should constitute mobile teams to provide edibles and medical facilities. The CM ordered that the water situation in the rivers should be monitored all the time, adding that the concerned departments should be kept informed of each and every second about the arrival of water being spilled by India. Amir Mir said after the cabinet meeting that the risk of flooding had significantly increased, particularly with the water released by India, which has caused the rivers’ water levels to rise. “Presently, a substantial volume of approximately 22,000 cusecs is flowing through Shahdara. There are concerns that continuous rainfall in India may prompt India to release even more water into the Ravi and Sutlej rivers, potentially leading to the submergence of Shahdara”, he affirmed. He said the government will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide updates to the public as needed. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday urged the relevant departments to ensure elaborate preemptive measures to manage land sliding, urban and flash flooding incidents that might occur due to heavy floods. The NDMA in its Monsoon update shared that according to the forecast of the Meteorological Department, there was a possibility that heavy to very heavy rain would continue in the country during the next 48 to 72 hours.