Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar areas under water again
The weak dykes along the Left Bank Outfall Drain miserably failed to contain the onrush of rainwater from Sanhar and Umerkot districts.
The LBOD is a 385km long ‘drain’ that was built in the late 1990s with the help of World Bank money to try to tackle water logging and salinity. It is an artificial waterway from Nawabshah down to the sea and is supposed to drain out or carry municipal waste, saline subsoil water, to put it crudely. And while it is difficult to go into the details here, it is important to mention that the LBOD has often been the subject of controversy and politics and has generally acquired a bit of a grim reputation.
The drain has developed its third cut which is 80-feet wide at 287 reduced distance near Naukot Town.
Vast areas of both Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar were underwater again because of this fresh cut. The remaining people living in the already marooned areas were forced to vacate their homes and move to safer areas in Tharparkar district.
LBOD Director Zaheer Memon had reached the spot with his staffers from the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority. He said the cut is being filled with the help of heavy machinery.
PPP Tharparkar MPA Arbab Lutfullah and Tharparkar DC Mohammad Nawaz Soho also visited the site. Lutfullah said the drain had a capacity of carrying 4,000 cusecs of water into the Arabian Sea and Shakoor lake, but was overflowing with over 10,000 cusecs of water.
He said more cuts are feared if there is more rainfall in catchment areas in the coming days and if rainwater does not recede in the submerged areas.
The MPA placed blame on a design fault in the LBOD and said it was the main cause behind cuts since 1999 when the same drain had wreaked havoc in Badin district.
Lutfullah said the local PPP leadership had asked Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to carry out a survey of the existing flows of the drain and Puran Dhoro, a dead stream.
People living along the banks of the LBOD in Ameer Bux Kaloi village near Malkani Sharif told SAMAA Digital that flows in the drain were rising in their area. They demanded senior government officials fortify the weak points of the drain to avoid more cuts.
Grand Democratic Alliance MPA Barrister Hasnain Mirza had slammed the senior government official of Sindh over their failure to plug the cuts in the LBOD and other drains in Badin.
He had said that those displaced because of these cuts were not being provided the required relief and food items. Mirza had asked the authorities concerned to mend their ways.
Barrister Mirza asked the PPP leadership to do away with lame excuses. After the 18th Amendment, it was the prime duty of the provincial government to act swiftly and prudently during natural calamities, he said, adding that officials of the NDMA were in direct contact with him and were doing their best to extend help to the affected people.
Earlier, two wide cuts in the LBOD during the heavy downpours in late August had already created havoc in the villages in Badin, Mirpurkhas and the barrage areas of Tharparkar district.
This drain has caused massive destruction as many as five times in the region with the first time being during the terrible 1999 cyclone and then in 2003, 2005 and then again in 2011.
It is supposed to be the biggest drain of Asia, which had not only washed away standing crops and inundating nearby towns and villages, but also killed several hundreds of people in flash floods.
Two days ago, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had visited flood-affected areas of Naukot Town in Mirpurkhas. He visited the Left Bank Outfall Drain near Roshanabad and inspected the ongoing repair work to plug and fortify its dykes.