In the time of floods

The Flood Commission constituted by the Supreme Court on the monsoon floods last year, has blamed the irrigation departments of the various provinces for negligence and corruption, which led them to breach various dykes and embankments, and led them to worsen the situation rather than improve it. The report noted in particular that the Tori Bund breach had behind it years of neglect of maintenance, and apart from that, the department had planned to repair it was part of the Flood Plan for 2010, but did not. The Commission found that the department conducted last-minute removal of earth to fill the pits in the river and that the Chief Engineer Taunsa, the PMO Jinnah Barrage, the Chief Engineer Guddu and the XEN Guddu were among those personally responsible. One of the findings was that if Munda Dam had been built, there would have been minimum damage to Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera districts.The damage would have been further reduced if Kalabagh Dam had been built. In fact, the water that went down to the sea would have been stored for the shortage, if not drought, which has been predicted for this year. It seems previous estimates, that the failure to build the dams would mean that shortages would have to be shared, are incorrect. The failure, especially to build Kalabagh Dam, also means that floods will have even worse effects. Not building Dams now does not mean shortages, but increased damage. It is ironic that the epicentre of the floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has been those districts that the ANP considers strongholds. Even as the ANP continues its opposition to Kalabagh, the power it supports so strongly, India, goes on violating the Indus Waters Treaty by carrying out a huge programme of dam construction on Pakistan’s waters. It will argue later that Pakistan itself neglected construction of any dams to harness the potential of its waters, and thus created a new reality which India was to exploit. The role of pro-Indian forces in this turn of events should be known.The Supreme Court has set an example worth emulating by other branches of government in ordering the publication of the report. The exposure of officials who were responsible for worsening the effects of the floods would facilitate the government in taking action. With a fresh monsoon around the corner, it would only be appropriate to implement the commission’s recommendations. – Nation