Balochistan, already beset with so many problems, has been facing the wrath of incessant monsoon spells. The torrential rains are inflicting heavy losses to the life and property in different areas, which have been cut off from the rest of the country. Official statistics state that since June 1, when the first spell hit the province, a total of 111 citizens have lost their lives while heavy downpour has completely torn down 6,077 houses and partially damaged more than 10,000 homes. Hundreds of families are still awaiting relief in their areas submerged in water. Leaving the masses at the mercy of a natural disaster and government institutionsâ unpreparedness to deal with such calamities tantamount to criminal negligence.
This year, like every year, sufficient measures were not taken to prevent infrastructural damage in the relatively underdeveloped villages and small towns most heavily affected by floods. The infrastructure of the areas that are susceptible to flooding, like those along the rivers, should be reinforced and made resistant to heavy rainfall and inundation. Otherwise, the exorbitant costs of
rebuilding and renovating the damaged roads, bridges and buildings will keep adding up and we will remain caught up in an endless cycle of rebuilding towns and villages, only to have them demolished and inundated every year. As usual, in the face of unforeseen weather patterns, the lack of preparation for the floods has left victims to survive on their own.
The fact is that each year we are forced to rely on last-minute, emergency relief operations and this is a failure of the state, particularly the Provincial and National Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA and NDMA). Because floods in the wake of changing weather patterns have become a permanent annual issue in Pakistan, and are only threatening to get worse due to global warming and the subsequent melting of the glaciers in the peaks of the north, long-term measures need to be taken to enable the irrigation system of Pakistan to handle the increased water flow. The bunds and dykes need to be strengthened, more reservoirs and dams need to be built and the capacity of the existing dams, which is greatly diminished due to siltation, needs to be bolstered. It is foolhardy of the state to not prepare for such disasters before they hit and then scramble to rebuild and evacuate the affected areas after significant destruction has already been caused.
The disaster management authorities do not have sufficient personnel and equipment on hand in times of crisis, forcing them to rely on voluntary rescue workers and the military to help evacuate people and mitigate the damages. There is a need of taking precautionary measures to ward off these threats with better preparation.