Authorities did not learn from 2010 floods because water channels remained without embankments ever since, causing more damage this time.
PESHAWAR - While floods are a calamity, mismanagement and encroachments are considered to be major reasons behind the flood’s destruction.
The floods first demolished the buildings constructed on riverbanks and later also damaged other infrastructure. In Kalam, the famous Honeymoon Hotel, which had been constructed close to river water, was washed away, although the owner had spent huge money reportedly to make it flood-resistant. The same hotel had once been washed away in the 2010 floods.
It merits a mention here most of the riverbanks in hilly and plain areas lack embankments, which could have stopped or controlled the flood devastation. While the 2010 floods had wreaked havoc, the government did not learn from that saga and continued to ignore the issue. The rivers in Swat valley were without embankments in the 2010 floods and even after that catastrophe, the authorities failed to construct proper embankments along the rivers, resulting in ongoing floods that have caused more damage than even the previous floods.
Speaking to The Nation, Swat Hotels Association president Zahid Khan said that in the wake of the 2010 floods, the government should have constructed proper embankments on the rivers, but it didn’t.
“In the 2010 floods, the water level was 300,000 cusecs but this time it was recorded far lesser ie 180,000 cusecs. Still, it has caused more damage and washed away 50 small and big hotels and 200,000 kanals lands in the scenic district”.
It merits a mention here that the Swat Expressway project has also become a bone of contention since many local elders want the route to be constructed along the river while the government plans to construct it through the middle of the Swat district.
“If the Expressway is constructed along the river, it would also ensure the construction of embankments in the river, right from Chakdara up to Fatepur area in Swat. On the one hand, this will ensure flood protection from the river in Swat and on the other, it will also increase the scenic beauty of the area, which attracts a huge number of tourists,” Zahid Khan said.
He said there were three maps, one to construct the expressway in hilly areas, the second to construct it in the middle of the district, and the third to construct it along the River Swat.
“Now they have decided to construct the expressway through the middle of Swat district. And this is an Rs60 billion project, but if it is constructed in the middle of the district, it will cause an Rs600 billion loss in the form of destroying fruit orchards, houses, other buildings, etc. Also, it will chop 500,000 trees, which would be a huge loss violating the environmental laws.”
The Nation contacted Deputy Commissioner Junaid Khan to discuss the issues regarding the region. However, he did not comment on the matter. A message regarding the issues raised was also shared with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan through his WhatsApp number, but he also did not comment on it.